Emotions to Music

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Reply Tue 12 May, 2009 09:54 am
An interesting question sprang up into my mind just the other day while I was listening to some music. It seems like a given fact that music can induce emotions within the listeners. However, combined with various packets dealing with metaphysics and some pieces of knowledge I had of the mind, I had quite a difficult time trying to figure out why we feel the way we feel when we listen to music.

So, the basic question boils out to this: Where do you think the emotions we get from listening to music come from?

Notice how the sound of nails scratching the blackboard can make everyone in the classroom just drop. Also notice how jazz music seems to appeal to a certain kinds of people while it repels the other ones. Why and how do you think the same genre, the same song can elicit different reactions?
 
Elmud
 
Reply Tue 12 May, 2009 07:20 pm
@Philly CS,
Power of suggestion maybe.
 
Yogi DMT
 
Reply Tue 12 May, 2009 07:28 pm
@Philly CS,
Well the sratching of chalkboard is just unerving sequences and jazz is an acquired taste but as far as emotion inducing music i have two theories. One is that different music has become commonly understood to relate to one kind of mood or another. Another is the actual sound has an effect on the brain and body, slow simple sounds will slow your heartbeat and relax you while chaotic speed metal may cause your heart to race and you may get pumped. Either or, a music can truley effect a person's mood if they get lost in the music, which really isn't that hard. Good songs and song you like are easy to just drift away in the music and let it take full effect on you.

One other suggestion is that the lyrics might have an impact on your. I think its more to do with the speed of the beat and rythem and then the frequency of sound that a song uses. Two things will impact our mood in songs that is the speed of the music and the frequency (high and low). Whether these factors have an effect on us because our society has common understood one thing to be another or if naturally our brain reacts different ways to different sounds is the question at hand.
 
Elmud
 
Reply Tue 12 May, 2009 08:09 pm
@Yogi DMT,
Don't know much about the analysis of it. Certain songs make me think of a certain person, a certain circumstance, things that happened in the past. Things happening now. When listening to music, I find that we all have a lot in common about things.
 
Yogi DMT
 
Reply Tue 12 May, 2009 08:18 pm
@Philly CS,
That is an interesting point. Music could trigger past experience and various memories. This could be an interesting experiment to do one day because i am a huge music listener and definitely feel like some songs effect me in some ways as opposed to others.
 
Catchabula
 
Reply Tue 12 May, 2009 08:35 pm
@Philly CS,
Everything on this subject has been said by Marcel Proust. I hope I'm not violating copyright by reproducing a piece of text of him as an appetizer. The site is:

The Allmusic Blog Who Wrote the Vinteuil Sonata? A Musical Mystery

"The year before, at an evening party, he had heard a piece of music played on the piano and violin. At first he had appreciated only the material quality of the sounds which those instruments secreted. And it had been a source of keen pleasure when, below the delicate line of the violin-part, slender but robust, compact and commanding, he had suddenly become aware of the mass of the piano-part beginning to emerge in a sort of liquid rippling of sound, multiform but indivisible, smooth yet restless, like the deep blue tumult of the sea, silvered and charmed into a minor key by the moonlight. But then at a certain moment, without being able to distinguish any clear outline, or to give a name to what was pleasing him, suddenly enraptured, he had tried to grasp the phrase or harmony - he did not know which - that had just been played and that had opened and expanded his soul, as the fragrance of certain roses, wafted upon the moist air of evening, has the power of dilating one's nostrils."

Some may remember here that old Europe has also something to offer in matters of culture. But I won't start my eternal rants again ;-) .
 
Sympathypains
 
Reply Wed 13 May, 2009 06:17 am
@Philly CS,
As far as triggering memories, I believe this is a big part of why things like classic rock can be listened to by it's generation for years on end. It's more about remembering a time when life was more fun and one had less responsibilities in one's youth.

Also the movie soundtrack phenomenon seems to be big deal these days. People relate the song to the feeling they had in the movie. A good example was Feris Beuler and the Twist and Shout scene. The song was twenty years old but went back into the charts just because it was in an uplifting scene in the movie.

As far as emotion goes, I agree with the physiological and heart beat theory regarding rhythm, and probably sounds of nature that are either soothing or energizing or a whole spectrum of emotions as far as textural emotions goes.

With melody, I have no idea.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Wed 13 May, 2009 01:46 pm
@Sympathypains,
I think that the melody of the song and the lyrics play a big role in terms of the emotions they induce. For me, both the instrumental and the lyrics have an affect on how I feel. I think that music itself is an expression of the human condition and human emotions, and so it is only natural for it to induce emotions.

As far as why the same song can inspire different emotions, I'm not so sure. I think that maybe it has to do with the mood the person is already in, or maybe the emotional tendencies of the person.
 
Elmud
 
Reply Wed 13 May, 2009 03:57 pm
@Sympathypains,
Sympathypains wrote:


With melody, I have no idea.
I think that A-minor and the complimentary minor chords that go well with it, (I play by ear so pardon the vagueness), create a feeling of mysteriousness. On the other hand, a combination of D, C and A, create a feeling of brightfulness or cheerfulness. Traveling from D to C, you can go from Happy to serious. I have a few combinations that remind me of the personality of a certain person and they bring out certain feelings in me. But, hey. I'm an oddball that way.
 
Catchabula
 
Reply Wed 13 May, 2009 07:44 pm
@Philly CS,
Here's a funny little thing that was sent to me some time ago. It seems we are a joyful people:

YouTube - Centraal Station Antwerpen gaat uit zijn dak!

There's more to music than an individual experience... ;-)
 
Aedes
 
Reply Wed 13 May, 2009 08:13 pm
@Philly CS,
The specific emotions we attach to various musical sounds are well known to be cultural. What is sad to some cultures is not sad to others. In other words, neurologically a minor third is not inherently sad while a major third is inherently happy.

That's not to ignore the powerful effect of music to elicit emotional responses. That is the mastery of composition -- to adroitly use consonance and dissonance, tension and resolution, to evoke responses in the listener.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Wed 13 May, 2009 09:20 pm
@Philly CS,
I agree that the composer or song writer can toy with the listener to evoke certain responses in the listener. In my own song writing, one thing I like to do is contrast major chords with minor chords to create a kind of ambiguity that leaves the listener to interpret whether the overall mood is either sad or kind of redemptive. Also, using certain chord progressions outside of the major/minor paradigm can evoke other emotions and thoughts that are atypical in much music in recent history. By using lyrics and music combined, a musician can convey much more than what the words can say alone.
 
Sympathypains
 
Reply Thu 14 May, 2009 09:55 am
@Elmud,
Elmud wrote:
I think that A-minor and the complimentary minor chords that go well with it, (I play by ear so pardon the vagueness), create a feeling of mysteriousness. On the other hand, a combination of D, C and A, create a feeling of brightfulness or cheerfulness. Traveling from D to C, you can go from Happy to serious. I have a few combinations that remind me of the personality of a certain person and they bring out certain feelings in me. But, hey. I'm an oddball that way.


I somewhat agree,(as Nigel Tufnel said, "people hear D Minor and instantly start to weep. It's the saddest of all keys." YouTube - Lick My Love Pump ) yet why do minor or major chords invoke different emotions, is my question.
 
Elmud
 
Reply Thu 14 May, 2009 05:33 pm
@Sympathypains,
Sympathypains wrote:
yet why do minor or major chords invoke different emotions, is my question.
Well, I don't know. Guess I wouldn't be inclined to try and analyze that one. Kind of like a good stew. don't know what in it but, tastes good.
 
Caroline
 
Reply Fri 15 May, 2009 12:11 am
@Yogi DMT,
Yogi DMT wrote:
Well the sratching of chalkboard is just unerving sequences .

What about cotton wool? I get the same horrible sensations of that shudder when you listen to nails on a chalkboard when i touch cotton wool, if im wearing woollen clothes and someone runs there hand over it i shiver and pull away, just the mere thought of it does the same, apparantly im not the only one who suffers this, i cant have my feet on the settee without shuddering, i constantly moisturise and moisturise my hands because if i touch stuff and they're dry i shiver. I just wondered where this comes from, it's not a problem but i would like to get a grip on it.
 
7skullz
 
Reply Wed 27 May, 2009 01:39 am
@Philly CS,
Well, listen to Rammstein's Mein Herz Brennt. It is a soothing sound in the beginning, then is interupted by the rather (APOLOGIES) harsh German. To me, thats like the calm before the storm, and is backed up by a following of the line: Mein Herz Brennt! and then an epic fight like seen, where it seems to build up until the pent up emotion is released, so to me its like preparations, then the war, then victory! Yeah I go back to war quite a bit...


-Skullz
 
salima
 
Reply Wed 27 May, 2009 03:49 am
@Philly CS,
Philly_CS wrote:
An interesting question sprang up into my mind just the other day while I was listening to some music. It seems like a given fact that music can induce emotions within the listeners. However, combined with various packets dealing with metaphysics and some pieces of knowledge I had of the mind, I had quite a difficult time trying to figure out why we feel the way we feel when we listen to music.

So, the basic question boils out to this: Where do you think the emotions we get from listening to music come from?

Notice how the sound of nails scratching the blackboard can make everyone in the classroom just drop. Also notice how jazz music seems to appeal to a certain kinds of people while it repels the other ones. Why and how do you think the same genre, the same song can elicit different reactions?


according to metaphysics, isnt everything made up of vibrations? so the music resounds with or against each listener, producing variable effects, some as innocuous as making them uncomfortable or as mindbending as inducing a trance and state of ecstasy.

some primitive people used drums to work themselves into a frenzy before going to war. i have heard some pretty primitive drums, and they can bring out some very amazing changes in the temperament of the listener. they can reach the limbic brain in the most civilized person.:cool:
 
Nameless 23232
 
Reply Sat 11 Jul, 2009 05:22 pm
@Philly CS,
I agree with the suggestion that rhythm can be integral to the inducement of a particular emotional reaction to music. I would add that the sound itself can induce different emotional responses, for example the harshness of a drum in comparison to the softness of a violin, and interestingly enough the flexibility of the instruments to swap roles, the violin can sound quite harsh and the drum quite soft and when the pace quickens the emotional effect can abruptly change.
I think the emotional effectivity of lyrics is profoundly subordinate to that of instruments but certainly it can add something.
I personally find ambient and repetitive music to be the most emotive.
 
ValueRanger
 
Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2009 10:14 am
@Philly CS,
A well-rounded Kundalini Yoga practitioner, that equally understands layered reality and how sonar frequencies divide/unite chakras, can regress an individual to non-sequitur memories.

Not only does sonar technology help parental empathy during pregnancy, but this give-and-take reality is an ongoing value exchange that can even treat cancer.

One of the greatest things you can ever endeavor to do in your lifetime, is to learn to self-evaluate through well-balanced sensory adaptation. The levels of excitement, and, indeed, the opposing levels of rest, are that much more enhanced as you evolve in visceral~ethos (ethos contains viscera in the set, just as torsion space conveys energy).
 
Dave Allen
 
Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2009 11:42 am
@Sympathypains,
Sympathypains;63025 wrote:
Yet why do minor or major chords invoke different emotions, is my question.

I suggest you (and everyone else) check out "How Music Works" by Howard Goodall on YouTube.

In it he explains the theory behind melody - it seems like each and every human instinctively recognises 5 notes that form the basis for folk music world over. As Goodall explains they are as characteristic of humans as the five fingers of the hand (semantic quibbling about thumbs and mutations to be saved for another day if you please).

This taken it is likely that the five notes might be some sort of evolutionary legacy - perhaps related to mating or alarm calls of hominid ancestors.

The five notes form the basis of the pentatonic scale (pentas - Greek for five). Now extra notes have been added to the five by different cultures, in the west we use 8 notes (plus various sharps and flats), in India there are more than 20. But the same five do seem universally used.

Now in the harmony episode he explains the clever bit, if you pluck a note on an instrument like a harp what you actually hear is a chord, each note is really made of two or more quite audibly different notes. You can reveal these notes on a stringed instrument (guitar will do but harp is best) by muting the string at certain lengths and listening for the harmonics. These notes are quite audible - but quieter than the main note and harmonic with it - so you parse them as a single note when you hear a string being plucked.
YouTube - How Music Works 3 - Harmony - Part 2
Once it was found what these "hidden notes" were western composers first thought of harmonising them. For example the hidden notes in the note C (called the first) include E (called the third) and G (called the fifth). Because instruments used by western composers such as lute and spinnet easily facilitated playing multiple notes at once (other cultures at the time did not have many instruments like this) it led to them experimenting with harmony. If you play C, E and G at once what you are doing is playing a chord - C major.

Minor chords are played by lowering by third by a single step - so the E in C major becomes the E flat in C minor.

That's the theory - now for the hypothesis:

Why do major and minor chords (and by extension scales and keys) help evoke strong emotions?

Well, I reckon the major effects a strong positive response due to being one of these "naturally" recognised notes beefed up to the max. It is something we naturally respond to in the singing voice but amped up due to the hidden notes being made explicit and harmonic. Hence why major chords are often thought of to be uplifting "happy" sounds.

A minor chord is slightly dischordant, it is literally emptier because of the reduction of the third. In effect you are hearing something that, subconciously at least, you recognise as missing something. Hence why minor chords are often thought of as unsettling "sad" sounds.
 
 

 
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