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How do you create the illusion of emotion in your compositions?

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Sorry, comparisons may be odious - but it invariably seems that the meek and incompetent like them the least. If one never tries to measure up, then the bar is just set low - where the meek and incompetent feel comfortable. Nothing I said was destructive, it was just highly critical. I don't listen to, or write music to be impressed, or to impress. But I won't listen to incompetent or insipid music, and I try my best not to write it. You need to get over your hangups and try to write some music of significance yourself. I may be here for a joke and a bit of a chat of this forum, but I am first and foremost only interested in improving my own musical skills. I await the return of Fredrick, because he really is a good composer, and upon that count it is his opinion I deeply respect.

Amongst real men Gordon there is a hard and fast rule - put up or shut up. Competition is not the essence of, nor should it ever be the driving force for artistic endeavour. But, insofar as we recognise pedigree in achievement at all, then even artists necessarily vie with each other to achieve a certain station. Once again, though, notional egalitarianism awards wimps and incompetents - they get a medal just for trying.

I certainly don't think that Bach, Beethoven, Shostakovich, or even Debussy were averse to, disengaged from or afraid of competition. Only someone arguably as miserable as Salieri, though, got it all wrong. Don't worry, buddy, if my worst enemy wrote what I thought was a great piece I would be the first to tell him. That's not even just down to integrity, it's just being what we call in Australia - a real man, admittedly a dying breed.

Best of luck with your actual composition Gordon, and let's see what we can come up with. Adieu for now, and I'll return when I think I have written something worthwhile.

I'm not as far along the learning curve as many here, but...

as i make "something", as soon as I even begin to flesh it out... i feel... *something*

That initial blush could be... slightly happy, frantic searching, heroic sounding in spots... *whatever*

there were no words or images involved... just sound. They evoked some emotion(s)...

I cant imagine if some foreigner from wherever were suddenly sitting here, listening to the same thing... that HE would not find it "bittersweet" as well. Music, with no words or images, cuts across language barriers...

now, i can not sit down to create deliberately a "happy piece" or a "scary piece"... I dont have that level of experience, knowledge, and control... but, i feel others much further along the "learning curve" have definitely acquired that...

I'm not entirely sure we "give" a piece of music any emotion, it just HAS it... I would think it was fairly universal, since it cuts across language barriers.

I spent most of my life not being or considering myself an "artist", so i suppose I'm not expressing myself well... but i am reminded of a scene from a movie i once saw, or it might have been a book, doesnt matter.... (more i think about it, i believe it was a book, but its not important the medium)

anyways, the ARTIST had a painting on display, and asked an nearby new acquaintance what THEY thought of it. The new acquaaintance faltered, and said they were not "into the art field" soo they didnt think they could respond.

The artist bid them to anyways, and the person just shrugged, and said "it makes me feel.....*whatever emotions they said*"

The artist was OVERJOYED, and explained there was no better compliment, than to say that their "art" they had created, had STIRRED EMOTIONS.

Personally, I am a bit ignorant of harmonic and such... so, my pieces i make are nice in places, but... they just dont "soar", darn it... I hear a lot of "nice... just, a little boring."

*shrugs*

I imagine I would be overjoyed if someone listened and said "I feel afraid! Its scary!" or... "Wow, so pretty, reminds me of being young and playing in a freshly mowed field!"

it wouldnt really MATTER to me that I INTENDED it to be SAD, yet they felt it was "pretty"... the fact they felt SOMEthing, ANYthing really... would be enough to make me feel pretty good.

=====================================================================

my pieces are gettting BETTER as i go along obviously, and i am clearly not "there" yet.

when the casual listener hears something after not hearing anything for 6 months... and they nod their head and say "wow, this is a LOT better... I mean, its not like it needs to be a soundtrack yet or anything, but, I cant believe youve got THIS far... that spot THERE, that was really scary sounding for a little bit, you know?"

I feel good about the progress, and a little SAD too... feel good about the progress, but, the sadness comes from realizing that I didnt "pour something o myself into the work" or whatever... I dont feel like "big things" were STIRRING in me, and I captured them and POURED them into the piece....

*shrugs*

I feel like I learned some new tricks, and got a little better....

I am starting to think that the IMAGE we all have of an "ARTIST", experiencing these POW-erful emootions, simply being DRIVEN to "create" something...

*feh*

starting to think thats just some hollywood schlock stereotype... I some nights picture BEETHOVEN trudging around his farmhouse, in his boxers, with a cup of tea... kind of just WORKING, you know?

“Elitism - It's lonely at the top. But it's comforting to look down upon everyone at the bottom.”

Fredrick and Mark are excellent writers and readers of music and words. I don't agree with how either of them imparts their knowledge, wisdom, and/or competence: I do agree that both are quite intelligent, knowledgeable, wise, and competent.

“If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough”

“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

I realize how I can be a better a composer and man. I should speak simply, constructively, and in shades of grey. I pity those unwilling to speak simply, constructively, and in shades of grey.

I like what you wrote. No doubt what you think, feel, and your goals. I'm going to friend you, because you seem like a nice person.

SEDstar said:

I'm not as far along the learning curve as many here, but...

as i make "something", as soon as I even begin to flesh it out... i feel... *something*

That initial blush could be... slightly happy, frantic searching, heroic sounding in spots... *whatever*

there were no words or images involved... just sound. They evoked some emotion(s)...

I cant imagine if some foreigner from wherever were suddenly sitting here, listening to the same thing... that HE would not find it "bittersweet" as well. Music, with no words or images, cuts across language barriers...

now, i can not sit down to create deliberately a "happy piece" or a "scary piece"... I dont have that level of experience, knowledge, and control... but, i feel others much further along the "learning curve" have definitely acquired that...

I'm not entirely sure we "give" a piece of music any emotion, it just HAS it... I would think it was fairly universal, since it cuts across language barriers.

I spent most of my life not being or considering myself an "artist", so i suppose I'm not expressing myself well... but i am reminded of a scene from a movie i once saw, or it might have been a book, doesnt matter.... (more i think about it, i believe it was a book, but its not important the medium)

anyways, the ARTIST had a painting on display, and asked an nearby new acquaintance what THEY thought of it. The new acquaaintance faltered, and said they were not "into the art field" soo they didnt think they could respond.

The artist bid them to anyways, and the person just shrugged, and said "it makes me feel.....*whatever emotions they said*"

The artist was OVERJOYED, and explained there was no better compliment, than to say that their "art" they had created, had STIRRED EMOTIONS.

Personally, I am a bit ignorant of harmonic and such... so, my pieces i make are nice in places, but... they just dont "soar", darn it... I hear a lot of "nice... just, a little boring."

*shrugs*

I imagine I would be overjoyed if someone listened and said "I feel afraid! Its scary!" or... "Wow, so pretty, reminds me of being young and playing in a freshly mowed field!"

it wouldnt really MATTER to me that I INTENDED it to be SAD, yet they felt it was "pretty"... the fact they felt SOMEthing, ANYthing really... would be enough to make me feel pretty good.

=====================================================================

my pieces are gettting BETTER as i go along obviously, and i am clearly not "there" yet.

when the casual listener hears something after not hearing anything for 6 months... and they nod their head and say "wow, this is a LOT better... I mean, its not like it needs to be a soundtrack yet or anything, but, I cant believe youve got THIS far... that spot THERE, that was really scary sounding for a little bit, you know?"

I feel good about the progress, and a little SAD too... feel good about the progress, but, the sadness comes from realizing that I didnt "pour something o myself into the work" or whatever... I dont feel like "big things" were STIRRING in me, and I captured them and POURED them into the piece....

*shrugs*

I feel like I learned some new tricks, and got a little better....

I am starting to think that the IMAGE we all have of an "ARTIST", experiencing these POW-erful emootions, simply being DRIVEN to "create" something...

*feh*

starting to think thats just some hollywood schlock stereotype... I some nights picture BEETHOVEN trudging around his farmhouse, in his boxers, with a cup of tea... kind of just WORKING, you know?

@ GFB:

I don't disagree the that; however, the simplifying of things aka "dumbing down" these days has a very bad connotation. Obviously, it speaks of arrogance and it's on both sides; however, if it's a mater of taste, then the word arrogance shouldn't even be in the post. I mean, look at the Classical vs. Modern Music debate.

Or if within a composition, you've got the "complicated" harmonic structure vs. the simple one. I don't think it's a matter of appearing to be smart or be outright arrogant as much as it is that how one decides to write.

When it comes to explanations, indeed speak in lamens terms, but the observer needs to grasp the non-lamen nomenclature to understand what is going on even if it takes awhile to figure it out.

I also think that when such comments are made, they come from what the observer has sussed out and in most cases, the composer has a different mindset than the listener. ie: the composer thinks analytically and maybe emotion has something to do with that. Whereas the listener isn't (upon hearing the piece for the first time anyway). That isn't to say, the listener may not be upon the initial time. However, they start asking about emotion later, usually and may intertwine that with analysis.

At the same time as one user said as long as you get the listener to feel something - despite the comment not being to your liking (disgust, boring, predictable) those are as valid as the lively, wonderful, dynamic, impressive and such comments.

Music in general has feeling no matter how complicated or simple.

Then, you could get into a societal debate (which I won't)

---------------------------------------------

To answer the question, though: I use tension and release and the various methods to get this. Since I think harmonically, it should be no surprise what kind of harmony I use whether it's arranging (predominately) or doing something original evoking the emotions and colors shown in that graph. In each key and its quality carries and emotion with it as well.

I was listening to "In Limbo" (from a user on another forum) and it was clear despite him saying so, that the piece was very melancholy having been in a minor key (A) - not to mention the reason he wrote it. And only the piano was used. This instrument by itself can illicit so many emotions and can all the others, but of course, it depends on how they're used in the composition.

I can't recall who did 4'33, right off but I wouldn't call that emotionless and causal ears don't grasp the purpose of that tune. Some may jokingly say that it reinforces the "silence is golden" adage (if it's not heard live); yet, when heard live, it's not completely silent. The ambience is the music.

-------------------------------------------------

Which brings up this question:

Why is it when you've got a busy song going (ie: lots of instruments, minimal breaks, dynamics, rigid rhythms, etc.) - some say it's emotionless (disregard MoT = Matter of Taste)

If I were to use that diagram: A busy constant everything composition could equate to a chronic person. People do exist who are like that - that's not speaking badly of them, but that seems to be a bad thing regarding music. Other than MoT and ear/mind fatigue or both what else is there?

Mind you, it shouldn't be taken harshly (although initially, it will) - I've gotten such a critique and did the necessary changes and my arrangement sound much, much better for it; however, it wasn't emotionless when I didn't do those changes - it was just less emotional. When the suggestion was made, I found a way to dig in and carve out that wall I had initially built up. Now, I see the person on the other side of it. Turns out, she always wanted me to do that.

That's something I think composers should do. Personify their creation! Those that have done it, great! For those who haven't, this is a great way to carve out those emotions you can't see, but know are there. I know this sounds like some psychologist talk, but how often do you hear them say and their patients often display: "I know you're angry, but I see you're guilt-ridden, ashamed, saddened, hurt, etc." IOW, there's alot more emotions underneath the one on top.

However, it's also a disservice to go this deep when you don't have to. Yet, this is why modern music gets no appreciation from some audiences. Not everything has to be found deeply entrenched at the bottom of a mile long and deep chasm. Yet, like the psychologists say, there may be something deeper. Sometimes even the patient contemplates this before going to see the therapist. AAMOF, that's why they go see the therapist whether it's their own decision or it's suggested to them and most of the time it's helpful suggestion - at least that's how it's intended.

--------------------------------

The piece I have arranged is Blossoms (Dance of the Flowers). It's of a 4/4 meter (as opposed to 6/8). I would say it's in the shades of blue portion; however, not the darkest blue or it could be, but I may chose a word a little less weighted such as grief.

It's Intro/Verse/Chorus/Bridge/Chorus/Bridge or CABABCBC (The Intro is really the first half of the C section)

Overall, I'd say it's darker than the source, although I realize its contradiction (note, I only took part of it); however, I intended to do no such thing. The mood comes from the harmonic structure and movement.

One thing I will say is that, the diagram describes who I am as a composer: colorful (I hear that alot). Yet, I strongly agree with the idea that while music is emotional it often is very colorful. One may hear the word color tones and while they mean literally "notes that add color," they really do that - whether they're diatonic or altered.

But in general, most of my arrangements are some shade of blue or have some shade of blue in them despite brighter colors being in the overall piece and music has more than dominant color, but alas that depends on the piece.

Other arrangements I've done (WIPs) are Creamy Cashews (Christmas Time Is Here), Girl From Ipanema and Don't Know Why. All in flats keys, so the dark coloring is noticed immediately, but brighter colors exist, too.

Give your music personality, but be aware that it already has it. Yet, personify it to be able to enhance it.

I believe that emotions, reactions, responses, what have you, in a listener come from a number of sources:

1. Nostalgia and the like, associative responses that may have less to do with the music than the listener's upbringing, accidents of correlation between unrelated stimuli, that sort of thing.  As an example, patriotic feelings that arise on listening to a national anthem. On a personal note, I feel nauseated when I hear ELO's "Don't Bring Me Down" because it happened to be playing on the radio when I got car sick as a young boy.

2. Piloerection, or "hairs standing up".  This can result from listening to loud music, sudden unexpected changes in the musical texture, that sort of thing.  A biological response that may not vary much from person to person, culture to culture.

3. Expectation.  Musical patterns are set up by repetition, both within a specific piece and within the genre of a specific piece.  How these expectations are realized, thwarted, realized, can lead to "aha!" moments, head shaking, disbelief, awe, etc.  A listener's experience is very important in recognizing the patterns, so this will vary widely.

A very simplified breakdown, but it's early and I need coffee.

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