TED Conversations

Shawn Jones

Student,

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

What is the relationship between music and emotion?

As a songwriter, I believe that a song was an emotion caught in a bottle. Listening to a song or playing one I've written while feeling a certain way has always been a sort of emotional time travel for me. Music for me is the most intimate form of expression.

Others might argue that music is a fabrication using the mathematical manipulation of sounds put together in a way that provokes a specific emotional response.

I'd like to hear what others think:

-What is music?

-How does music express emotion?

-What scientific effect does music have on emotions?

-and more?

+1
Share:
progress indicator
  • thumb
    Sep 27 2012: Music is linked to emotion, love mostly, because song was used for courtship. We just evolved to expect music to be talking about love.
  • Sep 25 2012: We relate to the arts, especially music and poetry, because they are glimpses of the intimate feelings of the writers/singers. We can identify with the emotions because of our shared humanity.
    Pain, hope,pleasure, desire sadness,hate, joy, disappointment, love, faith, and other emotions and feelings are experiences we can all relate to as human beings.

    So when someone creates a piece of art that touches us, we can say "Yes, I've been there before".
    • thumb
      Sep 26 2012: And a great songwriter, writes songs to be ambiguous enough so that people can relate to certain lines or words in the songs. I saw an interview once with Eminem and he was describing his songwriting process. His life influenced the songs, but he always tried to create a character that had a number of characteristics that people everywhere could empathize with.
  • thumb
    Sep 26 2012: it's a combination of aural and physical as well as music and lyric (for me) that makes it so immediate and emotive.

    the relationship between audience and live performer is pretty awesome when everyone is into it.

    i think it's the combination of lyric and melody that create the emotional impact in a song.

    evaluating the scientific effect of music on emotions kind of misses the point. it's a bit like reading about the sun while missing a gorgeous sunset..
  • thumb
    Sep 25 2012: "What scientific effect does music have on emotions?"

    It has none, we've been singing to each other since before we had tools,all animal life sing to each other,it's the absence of song that is disturbing,we cannot live without it.A lot of people will say that they can but the actual fact is, that as they walk out the door of their houses they are hit with birds singing,get rid of the birds then you are left with just the sound of the machine,if you are out in the country during spring and there is no sound then something is wrong,if you don't think this is wrong then this tells you a lot about where your mind is.

    I have walked in our native bush areas and have walked into bubbles of pure silence,no wind,no sound what so ever,it dosen't hit straight away but when it does register you stop and look around,it's not nice to feel a forest around you and it feels dead.

    We sing because we need to,not because we want to,life has been singing on land since the first insect chirped a long time ago.Song is the written language of the heart,the love,the beast,the tribe and life.Keep writing and singing,it's something that will never go out of fashion,it will survive economies,countries,empires,corporations,religions,democracy and technology,it was here before us and i hope it will here after us.

    Just privately between us,a great writer writes cheesy pop songs for his bread.
    • thumb
      Sep 26 2012: Perhaps to be human is...to be musical! I must agree that those moments of pure silence are beauty. When you can walk out into a field at night and encounter that deafening silence, then you can really connect with the world on a much deeper level.

      I read something that said music allows us to change how we experience the world. It allows us to associate certain kinds of music with certain emotions. Like when I run, I like listening to the Prodigy and Porter Robinson. Whenever I hear them now, I get pumped to run!

      And as far as cheesy pop songs go, I definitely agree. The formula seems quite simple. Maybe that's why many bands go in different directions after they establish their careers?
      • thumb
        Sep 28 2012: "Perhaps to be human is...to be musical"

        Yes,we are,in song we become a part of the human murmuration,in song we move as one.

        "I must agree that those moments of pure silence are beauty"

        For me it is the time between 4.45 am to 5.30ish am depending what season you are experiencing and where in the world you are,this special time is when a lot of life is awakening but is still quiescent,waiting,it is the time when i like to listen to the sound of nothing and strangely enough i think the life that is awake, is listening to it as well.
    • thumb
      Sep 27 2012: an employed writer writes cheesy pop songs but a great writer couldn't care less about providing formulaic nonsense for the middle of the road market.

      don't interpret that as implying that a great writer cannot be a popular writer, though.

      these days, the formula for pop music success has more to do with video of women in underwear synchronised dancing (this also works with fully clothed males with girls hair-dos dancing in synch) and very little to do with the music.

      for a great treatise on (the decline of quality in) pop music since the '50's see "Revolution In The Head" by Ian MacDonald. A thought provoking read and an excellent break-down of the songs of the Beatles set against the social and political upheaval of the '60's.
      • thumb
        Sep 28 2012: Come on Scott what's wrong with cheesy pop songs? Lol

        but in earnest i couldn't agree with you more.I might have a look at that book,it's up on amazon but i'm finding reading Ebooks has lost it's novelty,i never seem to finish them.
        • thumb
          Sep 28 2012: i admit, i have a few guilty pleasures that i will listen to when no-one's watching.
  • Oct 24 2012: Music is one of the purest forms of emotional expression. When you hear a piece of music, the feeling you have at that moment is most likely the same feeling the composer had when he/she was writing the piece. It forms a connection between the listener and the composer beyond comprehension, and represents something we all have in common.
  • Oct 13 2012: Now working on my 1st album, I have be doing music composing since I was 12 and i believe music is mostly based in emotions, how we feel and what we see
  • thumb
    Sep 26 2012: I've recently been interested about Carl Jung and his idea of the collective unconscious. Perhaps at a concert, where there is a whole crowd feeling the same emotion, or connecting to the piece of music on some level, then some sort of harmony arises between each person. Like the huge flocks of birds that turn together at moment's notice.
  • thumb
    Sep 25 2012: I don't know anything about this subject, but do check out Musicophelia by Oliver Sacks. He is a neurologist who writes masterfully for a popular audience.
    • thumb
      Sep 26 2012: Thanks! I'll definitely have a look at that!
  • thumb
    Sep 25 2012: Music is a pattern of sound. Humans, for some reason, like patterns. A pattern seems to tell us "it is functional" and therefore we gravitate towards it.
    • thumb
      Sep 26 2012: Structure within the chaos of the noise we usually hear?