Although studies of musical emotion often focus on the role of the composer and performer, the communicative process is also influenced by the listener’s musical background or experience. Given the equivocal nature of evidence regarding the effects of musical training, the role of listener expertise in conveyed musical emotion remains opaque. Here we examine emotional responses of musically trained listeners across two experiments using (1) eight measure excerpts, (2) musically resolved excerpts and compare them to responses collected from untrained listeners in Battcock and Schutz (2019). In each experiment 30 participants with six or more years of music training rated perceived emotion for 48 excerpts from Bach’s
Well-Tempered Clavier( WTC)using scales of valence and arousal. Models of listener ratings predict more variance in trained vs. untrained listeners across both experiments. More importantly however, we observe a shift in cue weights related to training. Using commonality analysis and Fischer Z score comparisons as well as margin of error calculations, we show that timing and mode affect untrained listeners equally, whereas mode plays a significantly stronger role than timing for trained listeners. This is not to say the emotional messages are less well recognized by untrained listeners—simply that training appears to shift the relative weight of cues used in making evaluations. These results clarify music training’s potential impact on the specific effects of cues in conveying musical emotion.