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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000715.txt from 2002/05

From: Daniel Leeson <>
Subj: [kl] Re: Music and society
Date: Wed, 29 May 2002 18:51:04 -0400

Lucienne wrote:

> I'm have a really hard time finding literature on: how music effects > ... emotions

Lucienne, I have spent a number of years trying to deal with the issues
of HOW music affects the emotions, and I have failed utterly to find any
convincing literature that explains the HOW of that phenomenon.

That music DOES affect emotions seems to be a given, but the mechanism
about how it goes about achieving this end is almost non-existent.

There was a theory, still voiced as if it had substance, which I do not
believe it has, suggesting that the particular emotion derived from
music was based on its key signature, or else its mode.

For example, one theory is that the key of A major makes one happy,
while the key of C major makes one resolute. Another theory suggests
that music in a minor key is inherently somber.

To this, I can only say that it appears to be nonsense, without a shred
of evidence to support the claim, and even those who espouse the theory
contradict each other with one say that the key of X makes one joyous
while another says that the same key of X makes one sad.

And though I deny hotly that such an argument has any validity, I do
point out that the theory exists. In fact, the presence of such a
bizarre explanation for HOW music affects the emotions is indicitive of
how few answers there are to this centuries old question.

That I find some of Mozart music enjoyable (let's leave out "happy,"
"sad," "uplifiting," etc.) is true, but WHY this happens is beyond my
understanding. I find other music not to generate any emotional
response in me whatsoever and this is also beyond my understanding.

I once discussed Country & Western music with someone who felt the same
way about it as I do Beethoven. He could not comprehend how I was
unable to generate the same feelings as he had, and vice versa with
respect to Beethoven.

My son is crazy about acid rock but also finds Mozart, Beethoven, etc.
fascinating and enjoyable. Go figure.

I think you have taken upon yourself a task that cannot be accomplished,
though I also hope I have not misunderstood your question.

Dan Leeson

** Dan Leeson **
** **


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