November 30, 2021

Music’s emotions

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By Paul McGowan From PS Audio

As an aspiring author, I understand the mechanics of evoking emotion through well-crafted stories or poems. We relate to collections of words because their meaning often generates empathy encouraging emotion: a smile for the happy ending, sadness at the loss of a friend.

Music too can evoke emotion: inspiration from Stars and Stripes Forever, melancholy to Moonlight Sonata, a laugh from Yankee Doodle Dandy. But how? How do collections of notes in a specific order wring emotion from us? Why do we cringe at a student’s halting performance of a familiar tune?

We can give the quick answer that music is a language unto itself: the notes chapters and verse that tell story and take us on journeys. But how? How does C followed by another note conjure joy while C followed by a different note elicit sadness?

Unlike language, which is a learned skill, no one taught us music. Children respond to Row Row Row Your Boat and Mozart too.

And here’s something else interesting. The older we get the more important the quality of our sound system becomes: with age and experience comes bigger hurdles to get past the constant clutter and noise vying for attention.

There’s a good reason we keep upgrading our systems.

Better sound elicits better emotions.

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