Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why would anyone listen to sad music?

video

See also the San Francisco Classical Voice.

ResearchBlogging.orgHuron, D. (2011). Why is sad music pleasurable? A possible role for prolactin Musicae Scientiae, 15 (2), 146-158 DOI: 10.1177/1029864911401171

3 comments:

Neil van der Linden said...

It is more than about sad occasions. Most compoaer's (Bach!, Rahbani Brothers!) and most musicican's (Beatles!, Umm Kulthumm!, Mos Def!, Bob Marley, Amalia Rodrigues!) music in the minor key is more popular than their music in a major key.



It is more than about sad occasions. Most compoaer's (Bach!, Rahbani Brothers!) and most musicican's (Beatles!, Umm Kulthumm!, Mos Def!, Bob Marley, Amalia Rodrigues!) music in the minor key is more popular than their music in a major key.
However a compoer like Mozart was able to play brilliantly with the keys. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (clearly in major!) is no less melancholic than the first part of the g minor symphony, nr 40, which actually is quite uplifting.
And it is remarkable that Umm Kulthumm made an uplifting event of a concert performance of her Al Atlal, which partly is even written in the Maqam Sabah, the saddest mode in Arabic music, with so many microtones that it has an extra note in the scale, it is not an octave but a nonave, so to speak.

Meanwhile I always notice that popular Dutch music like that of Gordan or Jan Smit, always in major key, has an annoying and depressing effect on me, while whole masses seem to merge into rapture when this music is played. While those adorers might be even annoyed by Moazart's 40th or Beethoven's 5th in c minor, let alone by Mahler's opening section from the 5th symphony.
It would be interesting to see whether there is a cultural stratification

It would be interesting to see whether there is a social stratifiction element in the appreciation of 'sad' music.
But it is also interesting to investigate whether the Beatles' Michelle (in minor key) is 'sadder' than the Beatles' Yesterday (in major although with quite a few minor chords in it), both being comparable as they are slow songs from about grossly the same period of their repertoire.
Neil van der Linden

Pieter de Rooij ( www.tonalties.nl ) said...

Professor Huron’s explanation of the effects of ‘hormonal releases’ (switching things simply ‘on’ and ‘off’ as it seems) in our complicated bodies is interesting and relevant but seems to me too ‘mechanical’ and too limited. In my opinion a broader view – by taking into account ideas and models from biology, musicology, anthropology, sociology, psychology and philosophy - is necessary to get to a more profound view and a deeper understanding. For instance, what came to my mind immediately here is the ancient Greek Aristotelian notion of the ‘cathartic experience’. Where Huron talks about ‘a good cry’ (starting at 03’56”) it seems to me he’s referring to a similar experience and I think his words ‘a good cry’ could be replaced by ‘catharsis’. The kind of research Huron talks about is definitely important and useful, but his view and vocabulary seem to me, - as far as I can judge his words and interpretation in this video-presentation – too limited, or even too narrow-minded. There’s no simple answer and a broad-minded (multidisciplinary) approach seems to me the way to go from here. [Pieter de Rooij / www.tonalties.nl ]

willimek said...

Why do Minor Keys sound sad?
If you want to answer the question, why minor chords sound sad, there is the problem, that some minor chords don't sound sad. The solution is the Theory of Musical Equilibration. It says, that music is not able to transmit emotions directly. Music can just convey processes of will, but the music listener fills this processes of will with emotions. Similar, when you watch a dramatic movie in television, the movie cannot transmit emotions directly, but processes of will. The spectator perceives the processes of will dyed with emotions - identifying with the protagonist. When you listen music you identify too, but with an anonymous will now.
If you perceive a major chord, you normally identify with the will "Yes, I want to...". If you perceive a minor chord, you identify normally with the will "I don't want any more...". If you play the minor chord softly, you connect the will "I don't want any more..." with a feeling of sadness. If you play the minor chord loudly, you connect the same will with a feeling of rage. You distinguish in the same way as you would distinguish, if someone would say the words "I don't want anymore..." the first time softly and the second time loudly.
This operations of will in the music were unknown until the Theory of Musical Equilibration discovered them. And therefore many previous researches in psychology of music failed. If you want more information about music and emotions and get the answer, why music touches us emotionally, you can download the essay "Music and Emotions - Research on the Theory of Musical Equilibration" for free. You can get it on the link:
www.willimekmusic.de/music-and-emotions.pdf
Enjoy reading
Bernd Willimek

Post a Comment