Musically Evoked Emotions

The GEMS is the first model and rating instrument specifically designed to capture the richness of musically evoked emotions.

The GEMS model is based on multiple studies that included a wide range of music and listener samples. The model comprises nine categories of musical emotions (see Figure below). This domain-specific model accounts for ratings of music-evoked emotions more powerfully than multi-purpose scales that are based on non-musical areas of emotion research. In addition, we also showed that the experience of the musical emotions tends to activate distinct emotive brain sites (click here to download this article).

As a corollary to the model, we developed the Geneva Emotional Music Scales (GEMS). The GEMS has 9 scales and 45 emotion labels and is now frequently used in studies on music and emotion. Shorter Scales, the GEMS-25 and the GEMS-9 have also been developed.

The article describing the original work has been the most cited article between 2008 and 2013 in the APA Journal Emotion:

Zentner, M., Grandjean, D., & Scherer, K. (2008). Emotions evoked by the sound of music: Characterization, classification, and measurement, Emotion, 8, 494-521.


  1. Click here for more information on the GEMS Scales
  2. Click here to request the GEMS-Scales
  3. Click here to see a televised documentary on the GEMS-Emotions

Illustration of the GEMS model