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Towards global music digital libraries: A cross-cultural comparison on the mood of Chinese music

Xiao Hu ( University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong)
Jin Ha Lee ( University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 12 September 2016




The purpose of this paper is to compare music mood perceptions of people with diverse cultural backgrounds when they interact with Chinese music. It also discusses how the results can inform the design of global music digital libraries (MDL).


An online survey was designed based on the Music Information Retrieval Evaluation eXchange (MIREX) five-cluster mood model, to solicit mood perceptions of listeners in Hong Kong and the USA on a diverse set of Chinese music. Statistical analysis was applied to compare responses from the two user groups, with consideration of different music types and characteristics of listeners. Listeners’ textual responses were also analyzed with content coding.


Listeners from the two cultural groups made different mood judgments on all but one type of Chinese music. Hong Kong listeners reached higher levels of agreement on mood judgments than their US counterparts. Gender, age and familiarity with the songs were related to listeners’ mood judgment to some extent.

Practical implications

The MIREX five-cluster model may not be sufficient for representing the mood of Chinese music. Refinements are suggested. MDL are recommended to differentiate tags given by users from different cultural groups, and to differentiate music types when classifying or recommending Chinese music by mood.


It is the first study on cross-cultural access to Chinese music in MDL. Methods and the refined mood model can be applied to cross-cultural access to other music types and information objects.



Hu, X. and Lee, J.H. (2016), "Towards global music digital libraries: A cross-cultural comparison on the mood of Chinese music", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 72 No. 5, pp. 858-877.



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