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Can emotion in music be reduced to a number of scientifically derived formulas, such as an appogiatura, or a succession of appogiaturas. A recent Wall Street Journal Article reports on research implying that this is so.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203646004577213010291701378.html

Here’s a refutation of the work of these scientists.

http://www.newmusicbox.org/articles/sounds-heard-anatomy-of-a-truth-bender/

Tomasino

Last edited by tomasino; 03/01/12 07:15 PM.

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NO


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I get very irritated, there's an emotion for you, when musicians discuss music and emotions.

I for one cannot measure emotions in music but I can hear tempo change, dynamic change, and so on.

I find it more accurate to discuss music using musical terms ... but that's just me.

I'll take a look at those links but won't post anything more in this thread. smile



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We've had this discussion before and the answer is still a resounding NO.



"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

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I can't speak for the analysis of the emotional aspect of music, but I can say that the structural side (i.e. music theory) can be constructed and studied rigorously and extensively by mathematicians. For example, the twelve-tone equal tempered system that we use today is completely taken for granted, but it wasn't always around. Mathematicians had to give the correct ratios between tones using number-theoretic methods.

It's a very rich area!


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I try to avoid clicking on links that take me to Murdochistan.


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The answer is definitely not a resounding no. I can't stomach the arrogance of someone who can claim to possibly know such a thing.

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Can music be productively studied by science?

Is it a 'no' or 'yes' answer? Is a resounding 'yes' just as arrogant as a resounding 'no'? How can we be so certain in either case? I'd say, we don't know yet. Possibly, in the future.

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There's a mathematical explanation for pretty much everything...we'll find one for music eventually.


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Originally Posted by Cheeto717
There's a mathematical explanation for pretty much everything...we'll find one for music eventually.


Assuming that there will be a mathematical explanation for music because there is one for "pretty much everything" is a very un-mathematical attitude to take. smile


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And for what it's worth, those interested in this subject should definitely read the first chapter or two of Lerdahl and Jackendoff's GTTM.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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Originally Posted by Dave Horne
I get very irritated, there's an emotion for you, when musicians discuss music and emotions.

I for one cannot measure emotions in music but I can hear tempo change, dynamic change, and so on.

I find it more accurate to discuss music using musical terms ... but that's just me.

I'll take a look at those links but won't post anything more in this thread. smile


I'm with you. But there's also a disconnect between the title of the thread and the question. 'Music' isn't the same as 'emotions in music' - so I was misled into expecting a different sort of discussion.

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Originally Posted by pianomie

. . .there's . . . a disconnect between the title of the thread and the question. 'Music' isn't the same as 'emotions in music' - so I was misled into expecting a different sort of discussion.


You see a "disconnect!" You should see the "disconnect" I see. I originated this thread by linking to an article on the subject in the Wall Street Journal, as well as to a well considered response to that article. I found these articles to be stimulating, wanted further discussion, and was hoping they would provide the needed grist.

There is no indication, thus far, that even one respondent to my original post has so much as glanced at the first paragraph of either article.

Did I expect too much? Maybe so. Maybe I should have paraphrased each article--rather than the tease of the thread's title about music and science--and then linked to the articles. Maybe that would have been better, and more stimulating of a discussion. But on the other hand, if people wouldn't take the trouble to click on a link, why would they go to the trouble of responding at all. Why not simply ignore the thread. I would have been OK with that. Instead, there are eleven responses, and to me, each one reads like a "disconnect."

Tomasino

Last edited by tomasino; 03/02/12 07:23 PM.

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I read both the WSJ article and the refutation the other day (as well as Alex Ross's commentary on the newmusicbox piece on his blog, therestisnoise.com).

I think the original article is effectively refuted in the newmusicbox article, which reveals the WSJ piece to be superficial at best. Some of the musical techniques in the song, like the octave leap in the voice part, are so common (not to say hackneyed) as to be almost boilerplate. Myriad songs achieve similar effect by a half-step key change in the last third of the song. And the vaunted appoggiaturas? There are enough melismatic turns that it would be hard to single out any one of them for its particular effect. There's a lot of that in pop these days.

Of course, you can spot tricks in classical music too...I enjoy Mahler's many 9-8 resolutions (is that an appoggiatura too?), but I can see where they can be tiresome after a while.

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Originally Posted by tomasino
Originally Posted by pianomie

. . .there's . . . a disconnect between the title of the thread and the question. 'Music' isn't the same as 'emotions in music' - so I was misled into expecting a different sort of discussion.


You see a "disconnect!" You should see the "disconnect" I see. I originated this thread by linking to an article on the subject in the Wall Street Journal, as well as to a well considered response to that article. I found these articles to be stimulating, wanted further discussion, and was hoping they would provide the needed grist.

There is no indication, thus far, that even one respondent to my original post has so much as glanced at the first paragraph of either article.

Did I expect too much? Maybe so. Maybe I should have paraphrased each article--rather than the tease of the thread's title about music and science--and then linked to the articles. Maybe that would have been better, and more stimulating of a discussion. But on the other hand, if people wouldn't take the trouble to click on a link, why would they go to the trouble of responding at all. Why not simply ignore the thread. I would have been OK with that. Instead, there are eleven responses, and to me, each one reads like a "disconnect."

Tomasino

You're right. I didn't read the articles because I am not interested in a supposed scientific explanation for 'emotion in music'. I don't think it objectively exists, but is something perceived differently by different people.

And annoyed as you may be, you gotta admit that 'scientific study of music' is *not* the same as 'scientific study of emotion in music' - unless you equate music with emotion, which I absolutely do not.

Also - as another member said - I don't go to Murdochland as a question of principle. I just don't. Ever.

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Originally Posted by Dave Horne
I get very irritated, there's an emotion for you, when musicians discuss music and emotions.

I for one cannot measure emotions in music but I can hear tempo change, dynamic change, and so on.

I find it more accurate to discuss music using musical terms ... but that's just me.

I'll take a look at those links but won't post anything more in this thread. smile



I just cannot imagine that anyone with real artistic integrity would think that emotion cannot come through music. Music isn't math. It isn't science. It deals (sometimes) with human emotion.... keyword being HUMAN. Emotion is such a basic human part of life, how could people argue that it has no place in music? That is just beyond me........ beyond me.

A month ago I played a gig at two schools for kids grades 1-4, mostly 1st graders, with a violinist. We played some Beethoven and Franck. When asked what they pictured during the Franck, those 1st graders, who knew nothing about classical music, these kids - or some of them I should say, maybe 4 or 5 - actually said "wedding". For those of you who don't know, the Franck violin sonata was written as a wedding present to his good friend, violinist Ysaÿe. It caused me to shiver a little bit when they said that. Isn't that cool? When we played the third movement, all of those kids answered that the movement was very sad and reminded them of various sad events which occurred in their lives. One girl even said it sounded like two people breaking up. What do you make of that? Why should we turn music into something snobby when we make it mandatory to deal only with musical terms - tempo, articulation, harmony. What about the real essence of so many of these great works - there is such a huge emotional basis for so many works.

I'll probably regret getting into this, so I'll follow your example and try to not post in here anymore. Just felt I should say the above.

Last edited by Pogorelich.; 03/03/12 12:08 AM.


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Originally Posted by Pogorelich.


I just cannot imagine that anyone with real artistic integrity would think that emotion cannot come through music. Music isn't math. It isn't science. It deals (sometimes) with human emotion.... keyword being HUMAN. Emotion is such a basic human part of life, how could people argue that it has no place in music? That is just beyond me........ beyond me.



There is some music that is devoid of emotion, unless you call deadness and vapidness an "emotion". Muzak (or elevator music), for example, is specifically designed to not trigger emotions.


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There is science, math, emotion, and so many other things in music.

I don't fully know how to explain it, but I'll continue loving it and making it the best I can!!

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That's why I said "sometimes".



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Originally Posted by Pogorelich.
Originally Posted by Dave Horne
I get very irritated, there's an emotion for you, when musicians discuss music and emotions.

I for one cannot measure emotions in music but I can hear tempo change, dynamic change, and so on.

I find it more accurate to discuss music using musical terms ... but that's just me.

I'll take a look at those links but won't post anything more in this thread. smile




I just cannot imagine that anyone with real artistic integrity would think that emotion cannot come through music. Music isn't math. It isn't science. It deals (sometimes) with human emotion.... keyword being HUMAN. Emotion is such a basic human part of life, how could people argue that it has no place in music? That is just beyond me........ beyond me.

A month ago I played a gig at two schools for kids grades 1-4, mostly 1st graders, with a violinist. We played some Beethoven and Franck. When asked what they pictured during the Franck, those 1st graders, who knew nothing about classical music, these kids - or some of them I should say, maybe 4 or 5 - actually said "wedding". For those of you who don't know, the Franck violin sonata was written as a wedding present to his good friend, violinist Ysaÿe. It caused me to shiver a little bit when they said that. Isn't that cool? When we played the third movement, all of those kids answered that the movement was very sad and reminded them of various sad events which occurred in their lives. One girl even said it sounded like two people breaking up. What do you make of that? Why should we turn music into something snobby when we make it mandatory to deal only with musical terms - tempo, articulation, harmony. What about the real essence of so many of these great works - there is such a huge emotional basis for so many works.

I'll probably regret getting into this, so I'll follow your example and try to not post in here anymore. Just felt I should say the above.


Pogo, I love your story about the kids somehow picking up on "wedding" in the Franck piece! Out of the mouths of babes.....
I wonder if perhaps this thread might not be better titled "Can the way our emotional responses and neural systems react to music be productively studied by science ?" -- I think the answer is a qualified yes in the sense that brain science can likely give us some insights into what happens when we hear and react to music. Can it provide the reductionist explanation that that is ALL that is involved in listening to and responding to great music? I doubt it (and hope not!)

Sophia

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