cnev wrote:So then can someone explain exactly how one plays with emotion?
That's my question too.
NoteBoat wrote:Crow, are you familiar with Leonard B. Meyer's book "Emotion and Meaning in Music"?
Thanks for the tip. I will find that book.
He also examines the positions of the formalist (the meaning of music is intellectual, expressed by the relationships found in the music itself) and the expressionist (the relationships found in music are capable of exciting emotions in the listener).
I don't think Stravinsky had the listener's feelings in mind. Unquestionably music can excite emotions in listeners. Do we as musicians need our own emotions to be involved in order to make good music -- music that excites emotions in others? Stravinsky suggests we don't; we do that through "tacit and inveterate agreement" and "convention." An example would be the convention that major keys are "happy" and minor keys are "sad." This speaks to the point about musical form setting up expectations. People have come to expect happy-major and sad-minor associations, and we play to (and with) those expectations.
Heinrich Schenker's works also examine musical meaning, and if I remember correctly, so did Leonard Bernstein's Norton Lectures on "The Unanswered Question."
In my personal view, music is a language, and languages express things. If I tell you about a red car, I'm making the assumption that your experience of red matches my own, and that we both have the same general idea of what a car is.
Yes, through "tacit and inveterate agreement." We have generations of mutual understanding about the terms "red" and "car." If musical language "expresses" anything, Stravinsky seems to say, it does so through the same means....
...even if you don't have a vocabulary in a musical genre, you can appreciate it for the rhythms and cadences - just like language. A few years ago I went to Brazil to study samba in its native state; I didn't speak Portuguese, but I loved the sound of it.
Have you ever been insulted in a foreign language & loved the sound of it? I have. Maybe you have, too!
Communication is tied in to the state of the listener; tomorrow my image of a red car might be a dark pink VW beetle. Language presupposes the minds of the speaker and the audience align... as long as both act like they do, communication takes place - even if I haven't put my exact red car into your mind.
Excellent points. The suggestion seems to be however that if I want listeners to dig my mood, my music has to "act like" their musical preconceptions of my mood. Play the blues, make all kinds of facial expressions, major for happy & minor for sad....
Alan, try the Firebird Suite.
I don't think it will leave you cold.
"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream." - Frank Zappa