Date of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Type



School of Music

Director of Thesis

Dr. Alexandria Carrico

Second Reader

Dr. Amanda Schlegel


This research’s purpose was to examine the perception of humor, both generally and musically, and to provide an overview of how humor has been incorporated into Western European instrumental music from the Medieval Age to the 20th century. In order to evaluate this, the researcher conducted a listening survey to gauge how well college music majors perceive humor in instrumental music. The survey consisted of eleven total listening excerpts approved by the Music History faculty at the University of South Carolina School of Music. Nine excerpts were coded humorous, and two excerpts were coded non-humorous for control. There was a total of twenty-seven respondents, but only nine were usable (N = 9). The remaining eighteen survey responses that were unusable were not included due to incomplete surveys or extremely low survey completion times. The survey results indicate that exposure to humorous music and knowledge of historical and cultural conventions of the time period increases the perception of humorous elements in the music. Finally, the researcher outlines potential teaching strategies for incorporating humor in Western European instrumental music into high school music appreciation curriculum.

First Page


Last Page