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CHAPTER 3:
How Tones and Overtones REALLY
Work
  
3.4  Tone Properties and Their Emotional Effects

 
PAGE INDEX

  

3.4.1 Emotional Valence and Intensity

3.4.2 Emotional Effects of Pitch

3.4.3 Emotional Effects of Loudness

3.4.4 Emotional Effects of Tone Color

 

~ • ~ • ~ • ~


3.4.1

EMOTIONAL VALENCE AND INTENSITY


To close out this chapter on tones and overtones, a word or two on the emotional effects of tone properties.


     Chapter 9 goes into considerable detail about music and emotional arousal. However, every chapter from this one through Chapter 10 discusses the emotional effects of some element or elements of music (including lyrics). Emotions have a couple of properties:

 


1. Valence


     Valence just refers to kinds of emotions, such as anger, sadness, or joy, and whether they’re positive or negative. (Emotions aren’t neutral.)

 

        Some positive emotions: adoration, tenderness, amusement, glee, delight, bliss, gratitude, serenity

 

        Some negative emotions: depression, despair, anxiety, panic, abhorrence, bitterness, embarrassment, guilt


     As discussed in Chapter 1, emotions evolved as adaptations. They tend to manifest automatically, usually in response to some kind of surprise. Sometimes they spark quick action, not only in humans but in many species—for example, the universal “fight or flight” response to something in the environment that engenders rage or fear, respectively.



2. Intensity


     Intensity refers to the force with which you feel the emotion.


     For instance, depending on the circumstances, you might experience only slight amusement about something, such as a TV sitcom, or you might experience extreme amusement.


     You might feel only mildly guilty about something you’ve done—or you might feel extremely guilty. (So ... what did you do?)


     The next three sections discuss research findings on the emotional effects of three properties of tones: pitch, loudness, and tone color (timbre). Chapter 7 discusses tone duration because beat and rhythm measure it.



3.4.2

EMOTIONAL EFFECTS OF PITCH


Table 5 below lists research findings of some of the main emotional effects of pitch. These effects overlap to a degree with emotional effects associated with intervals (Chapter 4) and melody (Chapter 9), both being pitch-related elements of music.


     Variations in pitch, like variations in tempo, tend to have substantial emotional effects.



TABLE 5  Emotional Effects of Pitch


Pitch Characteristics

Associated Emotions

Low pitch


Fear, seriousness, generally negative emotional valence, also majesty, vigour, dignity, solemnity, tenderness

Low pitch, monotonic

Anger, boredom, sometimes fear

Low pitch, especially octave leap downwards

sadness, melancholy

High pitch

Generally positive emotional valence, happiness, grace, surprise, triumph, serenity, dreaminess

High, rising melody, especially octave leap upwards

Happiness, excitement

Wandering, unfocused

Sadness



 


3.4.3

EMOTIONAL EFFECTS OF LOUDNESS


Table 6 below lists some reported emotional effects of loudness.


     As with emotional effects of pitch, those of loudness can be positive or negative for the same loudness characteristic, depending on the musical context.



TABLE 6  Emotional Effects of Loudness


Loudness Characteristics

Associated Emotions

Soft (quiet)

Generally negative emotional valence—sadness, melancholy; but also tenderness, peacefulness

Soft, not varying much

Tenderness

Moderate, not varying much

Happiness, pleasantness

Loud

Joy, excitement, happiness, triumph, generally positive emotional valence

Very loud, to distortion levels

Anger

Wide changes, soft to loud, especially if quick

Fear

 


 


3.4.4

EMOTIONAL EFFECTS OF TONE COLOR


To maximize emotional punch, you can use different properties of tone to reinforce the same emotion. For example, low pitch and wide variations in loudness evoke fear (e.g., the Jaws shark theme).


     You can also easily counteract certain emotional associations of tone properties by emphasizing other tone properties. For example violin tone color by itself has negative emotional associations (such as sadness or melancholy), which you can easily counteract with high-register playing and loudness level (e.g., Irish jigs and reels).


     You’ll see as you go along that you can use many other musical variables to counteract or to reinforce various emotional effects to your liking.




TABLE 7  Emotional Effects of Tone Color


Tone Color Characteristics

Associated Emotions

Simple tone color, few overtones (e.g., flute)

Pleasantness, peace, boredom

Complex tone color, many overtones (e.g., over-driven electric guitar)

Power, anger, fear

Bright tone color, crisp, fast tone attack and decay in performance

Generally positive emotional valence, happiness

Dull tone color, slow attack and decay in performance

Generally negative emotional valence, sadness, tenderness

Violin sounds

Sadness, fear, anger

Drum sounds

Anger

Sharp, abrupt tone attacks

Anger




     Next time you see a movie, hone in on the background music from time to time, and see if you can relate the music to what you remember of the information in Tables 5, 6, and 7 above. Professional composers of film scores tend to have a good grasp of the connections between emotional valences and elements of tone such as pitch and loudness. (Chapter 9 has more information on emotion and film music.)


 

Effects of Music on General Health

 

In addition to specific emotional effects, evidence indicates music has some effects on general health. For instance, research findings indicate that ...

  • Compared with passive listening, active participation in music-making boosts your immune system.
      

  • Listening to music while running can increase the effectiveness of the exercise you do by reducing muscle tension and blood pressure.
      

  • Patients about to undergo an operation experience less anxiety if they listen to music of their choosing for half an hour before surgery, compared with patients who don’t listen to music before surgery.
      

  • If you listen to music while exercising, it puts you in a better emotional state, and you’re more likely to stick with your exercise regime.
      

  • People who sing in choral groups report elevated levels of emotional well-being, an indication of the adaptive history of group singing.
      

  • Music is one of many brain-stimulating activities that may help stave off dementia. To get the benefit, you have to actively play an instrument or sing, not merely listen to music.

 


     Next, a look at the connection between overtones and the construction of scales.

 

~ • ~ • ~ • ~

 

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You are reading the FREE SAMPLE Chapters 1 through 6 of the acclaimed 12-Chapter book, How Music REALLY Works!, 2nd Edition. Here's what's in Chapters 7 through 12. 

 

To order the book, click here:

     
 

 

 

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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