A Comparison of Music Characteristics of Funeral Music from Croatia, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom


  • Waldie E. Hanser Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands
  • Ruth E. Mark Department of Cognitive Neuropsychology, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands
  • Ad J. J. M. Vingerhoets Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands


emotion, funeral music, international comparison, music characteristics, Spotify


Music forms an integral and essential part of funeral rituals worldwide, but has to date received little systematic research attention. Recent investigations into funeral music used in the Netherlands showed that it is lower in tempo and valence, less energetic, and more acoustic than popular music. Funeral music is also often in a major mode. The present study sought to replicate these findings for a Dutch (NL) funeral music sample and to expand upon previous knowledge by investigating the audio features provided by Spotify, namely: valence, energy, tempo, acousticness, instrumentalness, mode, and danceability for funeral music samples from Croatia (HR) and the United Kingdom (UK). First, values of music characteristics for funeral music used in HR, N = 388 pieces, NL, N = 500 pieces, and UK, N = 439 pieces, were compared to values of popular control music from each country separately. Previous findings were replicated: for HR, NL, and UK, funeral music displayed a similar pattern as described above. Second, the values of Spotify audio features for funeral music were compared between countries. Analyses revealed significant differences between NL/UK and HR, namely lower valence and energy and higher acousticness (only HR-UK) and instrumentalness for NL/UK compared to HR. Effect sizes were, however, small and are likely due to differences in music selections. These results suggest that, even though there is much diversity in music pieces and songs, funeral music within and across these European countries is more alike than different in terms of its audio characteristics.