05-07-06, 01:42 AM
A subject on my mind: I've heard that babies cry when hearing minor chords, and the general consensus is that D minor is the saddest chord...
then again, i wonder if the babies were exposed to western music before, or adjacent to an adult who reacted to the music. We see bambi's dad get shot, we hear the minor chords and associate the two for the rest of our lives.
Do you believe that certain notes/chords/sequences innately stir some kind of emotion inside the listener, or that this is a socially aquired taste?
05-07-06, 03:08 AM
I've always been interested in why people percieve certain music as being sad or dark. I'm not sure I agree that d minor is the saddest chord, though it all depends on context. I've always considered anything with a diminished 4th in it to sound sad.
I think perception of music and certain chords is completely based on a learned behavior. I can't think of any evolutionary reason for being sad when hearing certain chords. I can't think of any reason at all why this would benefit a person. But every sad movie there is has the same sort of "sad" music.
But then again, sad music tends to be slower. People feel depressed when they are sad. So maybe the music is just mirroring a person's emotions, and the most natural way to percieve that music would be the same way. And the same can be said of the chords and intervals that sad songs have in common. It could be that certain discordant intervals cause a sort of dissonance in the mind (maybe it sounds somehow unnatural), that gives the listener a feeling of unease.
But overall, I think it is probably almost completely a learned behavior from the influnce of society.
05-07-06, 06:38 PM
As a musician, I'm quite convinced that the major-minor paradigm applies only to "Western" music, whatever that is precisely. Look at all the music written in entirely minor modalities in the Middle East that is regarded by the people there as happy stuff. And all the music that has been strongly influenced by Middle Eastern music, such as klezmer and flamenco. Klezmer sounds like speeded-up funeral music to our ears, but it's party time to the Ashkenazim.
Or consider the blues modality. With the weak third and seventh notes, it constantly wanders between major and minor. Originally the blues really was about having the blues, it was sad music by and for sad people. Then the blues modality was adopted by rock and roll, which for all of its anger and rebellion is still a rather happy genre of music.
The link between a modality and an emotion has to be learned, it can't be hard-wired.
As for which minor chord is the "saddest". . . That's the kind of thing we say to you to add some lore to the music, but we know it's just bullshit. If you're playing an instrument with a chromatic scale like a piano or anything with frets, the intervals are identical starting on any tonic. The physics of the sound waves and the interference patterns they create in your ears and brain are the same for a D minor chord as for a C# minor chord. Unless you're one of the tiny percentage of people with perfect pitch, you can't tell whether I'm playing a song in D minor or C# minor.