Music and emotion

Visual arts, music, poetry and other forms of art.
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Insanus
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Music and emotion

Post by Insanus »

I find it fascinating that some structural elements of music like tempo and tonality are universally understood as emotional. Fast means excited, major key means happy &c. This got me thinking if our emotions themselves might have a musical structure.
In "Forgotten Language", Erich Fromm suggests that in dreams, time and emotion are correlated. If we try to make a link between dreams and music-experience, maybe this dynamic-symbolic aspect is the same?
I think I've read that some A. I found that people who have richer vocabulary about different sounds or who use those words more are a bit more likely to be psychotic. It's not important on ot's own, but perhaps you can think of a way it might be related to this correlation between music and emotion? If, for example, a person would see the world through these "symbol-structure" glasses, he might experience more vivid synchronicities because his interactions with the world would be more "musical", if you will. This is of course crazy talk, but I thought these are the right forums for that.
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Re: Music and emotion

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I think the emotion itself is not subject to a rhythmic structure because it (the emotion) does not follow a linear time dimension. In this way, an event that happened several decades ago can be experienced emotionally again and again, even though it no longer really happens.
In my experience, everything diffuse is always looking for structure to form a paradox unity. There is a certain attraction between diffuse and structured, similar to female and male energies or unconsciously/consciously. I could also imagine that a soul binds to matter due to this magnetism. In the same way, emotions are stimulated through symbols, rhythms ect. Certain wave lenghts stimulate certain feelings.

If the communication, i.e. the interaction between the diffuse unconscious and the structured consciousness no longer works, mental illnesses can be the result. If the former takes control, the reference to structured reality is lost and people can no longer validate the consequences of what they do (→ psychosis, schizophrenia ect.) If the latter takes sole control, the reference to emotion and empathy is lost (-> psychopathy, sociopathy, anti-social personality disorder ect.) Therfore it might be true that persons with a tendency for psychosis show a intensified reaction to music.
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Insanus
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Re: Music and emotion

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Cerastes wrote: Mon Apr 13, 2020 12:13 pm I think the emotion itself is not subject to a rhythmic structure because it (the emotion) does not follow a linear time dimension. In this way, an event that happened several decades ago can be experienced emotionally again and again, even though it no longer really happens.
What do you mean? Memories don't follow linear time?
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Re: Music and emotion

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Insanus wrote: Mon Apr 13, 2020 2:36 pm What do you mean? Memories don't follow linear time?
I never tried to explain my thoughts on this so let's see if I can make sense here.
Memories are usually connected to a linear timeline. On a cognitive level you know that something happened in your childhood or in college. They are , however, always rooted in your past and never in the present or future. Emotions do not underlie such a timeline. They may be produced by associative memories, traumata ect. in some cases. But they can also be the result of a something that happens right now, something that has not happened yet, or be a combination of past/present/future. The more emotional involment a situation holds, the more likely it will become a memory. or even a trauma. So memory and emotion are connected but memory follows a time dimension, the emotion by itself does not. Without a connection to a concrete memory, there is no „when“ in emotions.
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Re: Music and emotion

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A very interesting question!! I'm currently trying to catch up on the Jung: Psychology and Alchemy reading circle, and I came across this passage:

"Now if my psychological researches have demonstrated the existence of certain psychic types and their correspondence with well-known religious ideas, then we have opened up a possible approach to those experienceable contents which manifestly and undeniably form the empire foundations of all religious experience."

If we swap out "religious experience" with "musical experience", (though I must add that often, for me, these two phenomena are often interchangeable) it sheds some light on a couple of points you've touched in this discussion; A) the possibility of the mentally ill being more sensitive to music and B) memory being the cement that binds emotional thought that forms the foundation for these experiences to happen.

It is very interesting that those things Insanus mentioned (minor keys as sad, major as happy, etc) are just universally understood and interpreted as the same, or at least very similar things. Now is it because music has an emotional structure, and it's something internal we all possess? Or is it all external and based off of consuming the same media? Would someone from a remote tribe who has never experienced music in the way we get to experience it feel the same way about those tones? Would they interpret a slow song in a minor key to be a sad sounding song?
Insanus wrote: Sat Apr 11, 2020 3:05 pm It's not important on ot's own, but perhaps you can think of a way it might be related to this correlation between music and emotion? If, for example, a person would see the world through these "symbol-structure" glasses, he might experience more vivid synchronicities because his interactions with the world would be more "musical", if you will.
Now I don't think I completely qualify as someone who is mentally ill, but as stated above, music is often a religious experience for me. Genre doesn't matter. It often has the power to physically change my state, whether it be a faster heartbeat, flushed cheeks, an elevated mood, etc. I tend to turn mundane noise into a musical experience, and even that has have an effect on me. I do think that I find symbolic meaning in what I'm listening to, and that's what causes these reactions, but it's not an entirely conscious process, so it's really hard for me to give a definite write up of the process.
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Re: Music and emotion

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Polyhymnia wrote: Mon Apr 13, 2020 7:51 pm It is very interesting that those things Insanus mentioned (minor keys as sad, major as happy, etc) are just universally understood and interpreted as the same, or at least very similar things. Now is it because music has an emotional structure, and it's something internal we all possess? Or is it all external and based off of consuming the same media? Would someone from a remote tribe who has never experienced music in the way we get to experience it feel the same way about those tones? Would they interpret a slow song in a minor key to be a sad sounding song?
I am not very a knowledgeable in musicology but I'd doubt such universality exists but I think maybe more interesting question would be do all emotions get covered in music?
I might sound too much of a relativist but if one would ask from tribesmen "is this color green?" (EDIT: Although I realized how dumb example this is because here already person would be asking a leading question.. my bad :lol: )
And they'd answer: "Yes." How should one interpret it? "Ahaa they see it as we do". I remember watching a documentary about that some tribes which have developed in their environment so great ability to see green that they see and differentiate variations of green by names.
It's also possible to "manipulate" the mood of an audience by harmonizing major key melody into minor key.
My main point would be as Insanus pointed in his post it's not about scale or mode or key per se but how one uses those notes together with rhythm, phrasing and tempo and such. I am not denying such symbolic and emotional feature of music at all.
I just googled for this topic a quick example and I got Van Morrison's Moondance and mood of it feels quite ambiguous which gave arise to thinking about lyrics and their correspondence with music. Sometimes it's interesting how meaning (text) and feeling (music) turns into opposite polarities. Music becomes the meaning and text becomes the feeling.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lFxGBB4UGU
Insanus wrote: Sat Apr 11, 2020 3:05 pm I find it fascinating that some structural elements of music like tempo and tonality are universally understood as emotional. Fast means excited, major key means happy &c. This got me thinking if our emotions themselves might have a musical structure.
In "Forgotten Language", Erich Fromm suggests that in dreams, time and emotion are correlated. If we try to make a link between dreams and music-experience, maybe this dynamic-symbolic aspect is the same?
At least for couple of times I have seen a dream of some kind of music but most of the time it has happened to be very hazy and psychedelic experience and had nothing real value. :D

By "time" Fromm means also space, things that happened and you might find yourself in similar settings in dream?
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Re: Music and emotion

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Psychic time is a very different thing from the linear time of the clocks. It flows and keeps into the curvatures of space, made by the heaviness of emotions. Examples:

When I become traumatized by extreme psychological stress, I am shaken by the experience, and this splits my soul to reside permanently in that moment. This loss of (a part of the) soul will from this day on be a part of my psychic apparatus. In some things it is evident, in some others, not so. But the more severe the trauma and more it is left untreated, the more I will be the person living the age where I was injured. There are people who have practically lost their whole souls this way, and are not living in the present as actual human beings. And there are no people who would be completely unaffected by this phenomenon in their personal soul life.

The same kind of thing can even happen en masse. Aeons are the daemons of "days of creation" (sephiras). They are at the same time divinities and the "Zeitgeists" for a very long periods of time. When we are unable to overcome the gravitation of these aeonic entities, we become trapped in them. In this way, even whole species unable to evolve will remain held in a psychic stasis, living endlessly an aeon which, for the others, has already ended. This is the way how the "fallen mankinds" (some schools speak of "fallen angels") still live and act upon us, even though they have been dead for millennia, and much longer periods. Only way to give rest to these ancient collective traumas is to re-live their processes, but in a way that now helps instead of hinders the process of remanation; in a word, is balanced between healthy egotism and actual, freely giving altruism.

Music, being composed of rhythms and grades, is like a navigational grid on this psychic time. Such a map is personal, but points to superpersonal and collective. Whether this is because of some near to universalistic cultural upbringing or de facto archetypical and common to all from the birth can indeed be discussed, but in case we believe into some kind of metempsychosis or reincarnation of psychic tendencies, instead of the old behavioristic tabula rasa theory, these two might also merge to some point.
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Re: Music and emotion

Post by Kavi »

Nefastos wrote: Tue Apr 14, 2020 10:57 am
The same kind of thing can even happen en masse. Aeons are the daemons of "days of creation" (sephiras). They are at the same time divinities and the "Zeitgeists" for a very long periods of time. When we are unable to overcome the gravitation of these aeonic entities, we become trapped in them. In this way, even whole species unable to evolve will remain held in a psychic stasis, living endlessly an aeon which, for the others, has already ended. This is the way how the "fallen mankinds" (some schools speak of "fallen angels") still live and act upon us, even though they have been dead for millennia, and much longer periods. Only way to give rest to these ancient collective traumas is to re-live their processes, but in a way that now helps instead of hinders the process of remanation; in a word, is balanced between healthy egotism and actual, freely giving altruism.
Just a question. Is this fascinating idea you are presenting here based on lurianic kabbalah? I remember text which was about days of creation and fall and how at the same time these divine sparks (can't remember the hebrew word now) would be contracted inside everything.
Of course some people took this too literally or as an excuse. Like smoking cigarettes so they could release these divine sparks from them
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Re: Music and emotion

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I don't know enough of the great subtleties of the different systems of Qabbalah to actually base my contemplations onto it. Even though I also know only a little of the tantric systems, the latter are less bound to orthodox forms of study, which makes more possible more free breathing in taking inspiration and being in interaction with their ideas. I try to be cautious to only point to Qabbalah in a very unspecific way, since it forms an interconnective system, or systems, which demand a lot of immersion to actually start drawing out something other than marginal notes of unorthodox correspondences. Maybe I can be a bit more brave in these things after I have gone through my current reading practices of the Bible and the Zohar, but that will be seen later.
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Re: Music and emotion

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Cerastes wrote: Mon Apr 13, 2020 4:35 pm
Insanus wrote: Mon Apr 13, 2020 2:36 pm What do you mean? Memories don't follow linear time?
I never tried to explain my thoughts on this so let's see if I can make sense here.
Memories are usually connected to a linear timeline. On a cognitive level you know that something happened in your childhood or in college. They are , however, always rooted in your past and never in the present or future. Emotions do not underlie such a timeline. They may be produced by associative memories, traumata ect. in some cases. But they can also be the result of a something that happens right now, something that has not happened yet, or be a combination of past/present/future. The more emotional involment a situation holds, the more likely it will become a memory. or even a trauma. So memory and emotion are connected but memory follows a time dimension, the emotion by itself does not. Without a connection to a concrete memory, there is no „when“ in emotions.
I see! That makes sense. I would argue that perhaps there's no emotion at all without the "when".
There are no sad or happy notes, only the distance between this and that note has emotional quality. I'm not convinced there would be emotion without relationship to something: how could we experience anything new (excluding perhaps some always/new life experience, fresh silence or something) with no memory at all to compare it to? Maybe it's the same with first note of a musical piece. A musical chord is a structure and if we are nitpicky it could be called"rhythmic" because it vibrates..

The question of "when" is precisely what interests me a lot here. Involved music is not measured with clocks, it is the clock that produces our time: time is "before" or "after" some sound there, that creates the relationships, then maybe emotion...?
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