On this thread, I hear a lot about emotion vs. intelligence in one way or another. I would like to discuss something that I feel has been neglected a little when discussing that argument, which is individual emotional and personality traits.Because we are all so different in a way, we each have a different response to emotional situations, especially in music. What is passionate to one person is boring to another. What one person finds funny another person finds offensive. because we all react differently to things when I hear comments like "this piece was emotionally flat" or "this piece is sooo emotional" I wonder, what is emotional to you? This prompts me to ask the following;

How would you describe your personality; emotional, complacent, cynical, negative, optimistic, ect?

What are some of your emotional triggers?

What life experiences have you had that might explain your emotional triggers?

How do you think your emotional personality effects what music you listen to and how you write music?

What emotions do you seek in music, yours and others?



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  • It's an interesting but impossible to answer debate.

    It is also linked to the idea of whether great artists have a certain degree of madness or depression.

    I think that for some composers like Rachmaninov, the emotion of the music is absolutely linked to the composer's state of mind. You couldn't arrive at that level of musical expression by mathematical formulae alone.

    Which leads to the question of if it possible to gain an insight into a composer's personality from his music alone. I once heard it discussed by some very well known pianists that Schumann was a very honest and sincere person; you could apparently hear it in his music.

    I thought that this was perhaps a little pretentious, but for certain composers who really wear their heart on therir sleeve, I think it's probably true.

    We all know and have met very boring, uninspired, conformist people in life. Sadly, I seem to meet them all the time.

    Even if such people ever gained the techincal skills needed to write music, can you ever imagine them composing beautiful or soul-searching music ?

    If your answer to the above question is "no", you are probably in agreement with me about how great art springs from minds that are highly emotionally attuned.
  • this isnt a young person conversation, this is a conversation about YOU
    I can not answer any of these question about anyone else. I am only curious about YOU
    What makes YOU sad, make YOU happy, Not just in music, but in life, because you cant untie the two. if you are a grumpy man, does that effect how you listten to music the is about hope?
    This isnt a debate, because the only one who you would be debating is yourself.
    This topic is all about YOUR emotional responses
    Ray Kemp said:
    Tyler,
    Only a young person could expect to make any sense of such a discussion. Experience is personal and it can't be learned, only learned from. Is there a scale calibrated that describes mental or physical pain thresholds of others? I don't think so.
    But! I'll keep my eye on this board, and report any emotion forthcoming as I read other replies :-)
    How we as individuals respond Emotionaly to music
    On this thread, I hear a lot about emotion vs. intelligence in one way or another. I would like to discuss something that I feel has been neglected a…
  • Just as an example of what I am looking for let me answer this first.

    How would you describe your personality; emotional, complacent, cynical, negative, optimistic, ect?

    I would say I am an cautiously optimistic, Extremely open-minded, always egar to learn, and skeptical.

    What are some of your emotional triggers?

    I dont have many, if any, emotional triggers. The closest one would be being around stupidity, though even then, if I encounter something that will cause me not to be able to hold my tongue, I will try to avoid it.

    What life experiences have you had that might explain your emotional triggers?

    What might explain this is my need to keep my emotions in check. I am not one to be open about how I feel. I think you can hear that too in my music, in that the emotional content tends to be restrained. Oddly enough I get emotional about things that I havent experienced or never will. I dont relate to sob stories of break up, but for some odd reason a song by Joanna Newsom about being unable to bare children is incredibly sad, though it is not something I will ever have to suffer from.

    How do you think your emotional personality effects what music you listen to and how you write music?

    I think it has effect the way I listen and write in that I tend to lean towards music that isnt emotionally driven. I like sound for the sake of sound. Though I am an Atheist, I listen to religious music almost daily and sit in aww of its sound. Im always looking for new and clever sounds, so it comes off that I am looking for academic sounds when in reality Im looking for something that excites me sonically. Much like a movie goer who goes to the moves for the special effects.

    What emotions do you seek in music, yours and others?

    The emotion I seek is excitement, not in the content but in the sound. Music that is put together very intelligently, and it doesnt just have to be in the music. Lyrics I like are lyrics that challenge me to think.. Because the instant I stop thinking about the music the words, I tune out, no matter how emotionally charged it is.
  • yeah thats great and all and you have some interesting points in there, but I still no nothing about YOU.
    Since a lot of the topics on this forum in one way or another talks about the emotion of music of lack their of, I want to know what is emotional for the members of this forum. Much like my other topic, this plays on personal experiences that effect how we write and listen to music.
    Adrian Allan said:
    It's an interesting but impossible to answer debate.

    It is also linked to the idea of whether great artists have a certain degree of madness or depression.

    I think that for some composers like Rachmaninov, the emotion of the music is absolutely linked to the composer's state of mind. You couldn't arrive at that level of musical expression by mathematical formulae alone.

    Which leads to the question of if it possible to gain an insight into a composer's personality from his music alone. I once heard it discussed by some very well known pianists that Schumann was a very honest and sincere person; you could apparently hear it in his music.

    I thought that this was perhaps a little pretentious, but for certain composers who really wear their heart on therir sleeve, I think it's probably true.

    We all know and have met very boring, uninspired, conformist people in life. Sadly, I seem to meet them all the time.

    Even if such people ever gained the techincal skills needed to write music, can you ever imagine them composing beautiful or soul-searching music ?

    If your answer to the above question is "no", you are probably in agreement with me about how great art springs from minds that are highly emotionally attuned.
    How we as individuals respond Emotionaly to music
    On this thread, I hear a lot about emotion vs. intelligence in one way or another. I would like to discuss something that I feel has been neglected a…
  • How would you describe your personality; emotional, complacent, cynical, negative, optimistic, ect?
    cynical about the world as it is, optimistic about what it could be. Tolerant of personal choices, eg sexuality. Intolerant of ignorance when it affects others - eg. children raised by mindless consumers or bigots.

    What are some of your emotional triggers?

    Injustice and apathy anger me

    What life experiences have you had that might explain your emotional triggers?
    No obvious ones like divorce etc. A bit of a loner; always used music as a solace and an escape.

    How do you think your emotional personality effects what music you listen to and how you write music?
    Mainly emotional, but hopefully never trite - you know corny. I use my reason to create more emotional music and I don't use my intellect to write intellectual music. However, I hope there is musical interest as well as emotion. The best music IMO has both. My partner laugh at how my music can sound romantic as I'm an unromantic slob. But I think that most "romantic" signs, eg buying flowers etc are bullshit anyway.

    What emotions do you seek in music, yours and others?

    A whole palette

    It annoys me when people talk about "happy" or "sad". I want happy nostalgic, sad nostalgic, heroic, dreamy, tragedy, despair - the best composers IMO can put into music a whole range of shades of emotion and never just "happy" or "sad". The best pieces sound sincere in their emotion, and have episodes of relief or quiet reflection to gather one's thoughts. To me they should mirror the deepest periods of individual thought process on an emotional level.
  • I'm closed very closed, which is why I'm not going to answer the rest. Though Tyler's replies about hiding emotion ring with me. But I hope that my views show something about me.

    To me a composer is a wiki article being continually edited by lifes experience, whether hes had food that day, is tired, broke up with his girl friend 2 days ago etc, and this will come out in the music. A piece that is started one hour will be different from one the next hour, this even rings true to composers who are algorithmic because something influences them into choosing that algorithm. Your feelings and experiences can't help but come out in your music, you wrote them!
    Basically someones music is the key to their mind, if you know the person and the music doesn't quite ring true with the person you know they are hiding something or acting (to me Feldman is the prime example loud guy soft music) while if the person you know rings true with their music then they are as open as they let you think they are (Arvo Pärt).

    I hope that gives some insight into my thoughts.
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  • Some tough questions there, partially because some are so wide-ranging. I believe it would be impossible for me to give "complete" answers to any of those questions, but roughly:

    Some ways I would describe my personality are: easy-going, positive-minded (and yes, optimistic--I'd often say "irrationally optimistic" lol), pro-active, mellow, tolerant/laissez-faire, humor-loving, individualistic, free-spirited, hedonistic, etc.

    Some of my positive emotional triggers are: beautiful women (and that's most women to me) and activities involving them, the arts (including music), doing philosophy, hiking, traveling, cool weather and not too much sun, reading, etc.

    Some of my negative emotional triggers are: hyper, pushy or aggressive people, crowds, people who nag or complain or worry all the time--just negative and hyper-critical people in general, snobs/elitists/folks who seem to believe they're smarter than most others, displays of authority, people being very conservative, traditional or rule-following, especially when that's in conjunction with dismissals of others not doing that.

    Life experiences that might explain emotional triggers--most of it just seems dispositional to me--"that's the way my brain works". I don't buy strong "conditioning" arguments. However, my folks do have some of the same tendencies.

    How does this affect my approaches to music? I'm not sure it does that much, except that I'm not fond of rule-following, purist, traditionalist attitudes about music. That doesn't necessarily mean that I do not love any music that folks with those attitudes create, however.

    What emotions do I seek in music? I don't know if I seek particular emotions, it's just that I do seek something that emotionally resonates with me in some way. A lot of that is ineffable, really. I like an extremely wide variety of music. I tend to be most drawn to things that are at least slightly unusual and genre-crossing, however, and I like a lot of things that trigger a "melancholy" emotion (for example, Stravinsky is my favorite composer, and Orpheus is probably my favorite piece of his, largely because it's so friggin' melancholy, and that resonates with me for some reason). That's not a requirement or anything, though. I like a lot of other things, too.
  • Well... before getting into music beyond being a drummer when young... I knew I liked Asia and Floyd, and Queensryche... because of the complex sound. That big soundtrack sound they sometimes used for a backdrop.

    I learned early on trying, that minor scales were for sad sound, and major scales were happy and upbeat. Seemed straightforward enough. Then, a bittersweet song with the minors could make me happy. (?) I rather now first MAKE something first, then as it starts to flesh out, decide what feelings and thoughts it conveys... only then do I name it. I lack the "control" to desire to make a slow sad song, then go and make it BE that... I set out to make ONE thing, it might turn itself into somethign else, no matter how hard i try. After fighting it a while, I give in and PLAY to that, where it wants to go. I hope to gain more control.

    I enjoy a dark, scary sound in music. Even classical. yet, even THAT is "boring" without the sweet, opposing parts. The contrast, the musical "argument". i want to hear slow, fast, light, heavy. Dynamics, surprise. I want the hair on the back of my neck to stand up of its own accord.

    I cant fathom how some others find this "boring", and would have me believe punk or ramones "gets it" for them.

    I used to make everything from minor scale, but was led to the Sonata. This form, to ME anyways, is the superior form. i realized i enjoy listening to it, in major works. It "forced" me to realize i had to embrace the major scale, for the second subject group. The structure would force me to place a sweeter sounding part(s) against my heavier charging stuff i so enjoy hearing, and attempting to make.

    resolving the two, blending them... its coming slowly. i desire true resolution, after a spirited argument. In both what i enjoy listenign to, classical or progressive rock... and i am trying to learn to accomplish as much of that as I might. Not that much now, more later, god willing.

    a short radio song format, can usually only convey one thing, one emotion. If they are skilled, you get a respite, and a good bridge... btu its too short and your back to the original emotion, if you even get that much. true argument and resolution, and conflicting emotions worked out musically... thats rare on the radio.

    I THINK, but do not know, nor can I prove... that when a musician, short pop or long classical... can have most people experience a similar or same emotion(s)... that is what we call "good" or "skill". A lot of people like mindless music in my opinion, and they claim "prog rock" in big format... "makes their head hurt". I just dont see that, the listener is not asked musical theory for a quiz, he just listens. Like you go the museum and anyone can appreciate painting and sculpture. You just look, and listen.

    Thank god we're all so different though.... without that, "life" would be boring... just like a single musical emotion! me and the "punk fan" get to make an argument... and it makes life interesting. rarely do we come away appreciating each others view... and maybe thats why good musical arguments and resolutions of the argument is so rare too.

    i cant wait to "pull one off". And until i do, i enjoy hearing others who have. Past or present.

    I dont know how or why i respond with what emotions to what kind of music. I just "do". maybe thats the allure, the mystery to it. You might learn when you do THIS, most people feel THIS. Yet, you dont really know why or how... you just realize it "is". Similarly, MOST people get mad when their girl sleeps with another man, but, SOME like this.

    Its all mysterious, how 2 peopel can experience the same exact thing, and come away with totally different opinions of it. Loving... fighting... and music too.
  • This seems a curious topic for a music forum and perhaps better suited to a psychology or anthropology forum.
    What is all this over emphasis on emotion anyway. What about aesthetics? Argument? Design? Architecture? In short, what about Art?
    Would you ask the question, "what emotions do you seek in painting, in poetry, in sculpture?

    Tyler Hughes said:
    Just as an example of what I am looking for let me answer this first.

    How would you describe your personality; emotional, complacent, cynical, negative, optimistic, ect?

    I would say I am an cautiously optimistic, Extremely open-minded, always egar to learn, and skeptical.

    What are some of your emotional triggers?

    I dont have many, if any, emotional triggers. The closest one would be being around stupidity, though even then, if I encounter something that will cause me not to be able to hold my tongue, I will try to avoid it.

    What life experiences have you had that might explain your emotional triggers?

    What might explain this is my need to keep my emotions in check. I am not one to be open about how I feel. I think you can hear that too in my music, in that the emotional content tends to be restrained. Oddly enough I get emotional about things that I havent experienced or never will. I dont relate to sob stories of break up, but for some odd reason a song by Joanna Newsom about being unable to bare children is incredibly sad, though it is not something I will ever have to suffer from.

    How do you think your emotional personality effects what music you listen to and how you write music?

    I think it has effect the way I listen and write in that I tend to lean towards music that isnt emotionally driven. I like sound for the sake of sound. Though I am an Atheist, I listen to religious music almost daily and sit in aww of its sound. Im always looking for new and clever sounds, so it comes off that I am looking for academic sounds when in reality Im looking for something that excites me sonically. Much like a movie goer who goes to the moves for the special effects.

    What emotions do you seek in music, yours and others?

    The emotion I seek is excitement, not in the content but in the sound. Music that is put together very intelligently, and it doesnt just have to be in the music. Lyrics I like are lyrics that challenge me to think.. Because the instant I stop thinking about the music the words, I tune out, no matter how emotionally charged it is.
    How we as individuals respond Emotionaly to music
    On this thread, I hear a lot about emotion vs. intelligence in one way or another. I would like to discuss something that I feel has been neglected a…


  • Michael Tauben said:
    This seems a curious topic for a music forum and perhaps better suited to a psychology or anthropology forum.
    What is all this over emphasis on emotion anyway. What about aesthetics? Argument? Design? Architecture? In short, what about Art?
    Would you ask the question, "what emotions do you seek in painting, in poetry, in sculpture?


    Music has been associated with emotions throughout history. Plato would only allow certain modes in his republic because the others led to delinquency and girly men. Billy Squier once called music "emotions in motion". Ok, ok, but Suzanne Langer said that music moves the way emotions do. And we have all experienced music that makes us get shivers, cry, laugh, jump about like a crazy person. I think people associate music and emotions because there is an association. A problem comes in when people assume that these emotions will be the same for everyone or darken our humours or make us upstanding citizens. I think what Tyler was getting at was that music elicits different emotional responses in different people and, in fact, all music is emotional, you may just not like the emotion (like boredom). As a critic, then, simply saying a piece is emotional or lacks emotion says basically nothing. What is the emotion? Why is it there? Is it because of some specific event in your life? Be specific in your criticism, and don't blame the music if it reminds you of how you were a loser in high school or something.
    How we as individuals respond Emotionaly to music
    On this thread, I hear a lot about emotion vs. intelligence in one way or another. I would like to discuss something that I feel has been neglected a…
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