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Kris Christenson

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Music doesn't have to convey an emotion.

So often music is spoken of as the" language of emotion" and people often define the difference between sound and music as the emotion conveyed. But is the emotion what makes it music or is emotion something that becomes associated with it later? Many composers (myself included) write music that explores an idea or concept but has nothing to do an emotional state. Is what they're doing not music then?

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  • Oct 10 2012: Kris, perhaps you are not in touch with your own feelings, your own emotions. Many people block essential aspects of themselves out of fear. Maybe your emotions are perceptible to others listening to your music, even though you may not be aware that you are conveying emotions.
    • Oct 18 2012: No, I feel my emotions just fine. My point is of intent. I do not intend to convey a particular emotion, I intend to engage my audience intellectually. I can't control how they react, but the intended reaction is not one of emotion.
      • Oct 21 2012: Perhaps you intend to convey ideas only and specifically choose to NOT transmit any emotion through the music you create. Suppose people listen to that music and bits of your music trigger emotional responses in the listener. I hope you would not consider that music to necessarily be a failure. I wonder why you care to control the response of listeners. Suppose you just create the music you "feel" like or "think" you want to create and let the listener accept from it whatever the listener selects. Anyway, I personally think the separation you are attempting to create is futile. We are ONE human being. All of our cells and sub-atomic particles interact with each other, work together...etc. Perhaps the thoughts that pop into your head are a function of your emotions. None of us are aware of everything at every moment. For example, some people do not think they are flirting with someone and everyone who observes them in a particular situation sees that person as flirting with that someone. Perhaps the flirting person is flirting and unaware that he or she is flirting, but, people who have no interest in the situation see clearly that flirting is what is happening. Awareness. Lack of awareness. Awareness. People focus on different things.
        • Oct 22 2012: It's up to the listener to react how they see fit. However, it will be difficult to enjoy music I or many other modern composers write from a strictly emotional point of view. What I'm trying to say with this conversation is that limiting music to an emotional experience is an unnecessary limitation. We need a wider lens to view music through. I don't really buy into the notion that all cognitive activity is emotion, but rather I think emotion is a category of cognitive activity. And if we approach music with our full spectrum of cognitive ability we'll be opened up to new aesthetic possibilities that would never occur to, and in fact would probably irritate, a purely emotion minded viewer (as evidenced by my thread with Jeff Cable in this conversation). I posted a link that demonstrates the kind of aesthetic I'm talking about if you don't fully understand what I mean.
      • Oct 23 2012: It's not that people experience music from a "strictly emotional point of view." That's a part of the experience. It is also intellectual, physical, spiritual and more. You seem to be trying to block out the emotional aspect of it. Emotions are good. Emotions are a part of reality of people. Music is a wholistic experience. I see no value in trying to surgically remove one of the best aspects of music, as you seem to be trying to do, Kris.
        • Oct 23 2012: At what point did I say it should be removed? I'm saying that it shouldn't be a requirement as many people think it is. People may experience music in a wholistic manner subliminally but most people consciously approach it in a strictly emotional manner, which limits their ability to fully perceive the music and create new aesthetics. As I said in my last post "if we approach music with our full spectrum of cognitive ability we'll be opened up to new aesthetic possibilities". What I'm saying is we should consciously approach music with every element of our mental abilities.

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