This is just the beginning of what may become a collection of musings on what aspects of songs/pieces of music that I find particularly moving might make them so emotionally affecting.
Starting with the live performance by the Chemical Brothers of The Golden Path
2021 and crying, laughing, inspiring.. absolutely chemical, bros! @1:26 the seamless transition from insistent staccato isolated almost plucked sounding notes searching high and low to melodic uptempo phrases integrated with vocal harmonies conveys for me a sense of learning, achieving togetherness and resolution. Certainly different to the album version tho both have a nostalgic/lamenting yet optimistic and loving feel..like upsetting times but older and wiser afterwards. Not really sure what I’m talking about or why it’s so emotionally affecting but love it.
‘Fragments of Bliss’ is a very appropriate title for this piece which again inspires and moves me to tears. Against a deep pulsating monotonic deep bass drone (a constant earth / environment) synth strings play and chords rise and fall in melodic washes that transport us on an epic journey from uncertain shifting places to a beautiful warm idyllic beach paradise.
A repeated haunting but jaunty plucked note melody conveys a sense of nostalgia but this is combined with a bassier driving guitar rhythm that says to me life goes on, keep those sad times and losses in mind but keep ploughing on, working through past upsets and happier times will come.
Not a piece of music this time but a principle which this tutorial sets out. Any repeating part (sequence of notes or rhythm), however dissonant or uncomfortable, is something we eventually become used to and get to like. This struck me as a potential analogy to life where even if something is unpleasant but we continue to live through that unpleasantness we come to associate that particular unpleasantness with continued life and hence as something ‘good’. Something may not be nice but it’s familiar and ‘what we know’. Perhaps this relates to what is meant by someone who is ‘twisted’ – their unhappy life experiences have formed them / they have grown around, and come to embrace, unhappy life experiences developing into a grotesque form as a way of surviving those experiences.
It takes ‘courage’ which is perhaps really ‘just’ the willingness to take a risk (i.e. accept the possible negative consequences of an action for the potential upside) to break free from such a way of living. Courage can I suspect be developed..maybe by doing things outside one’s comfort zone?..and doing them well enough that one survives them relatively unscathed. I guess the inspiring thing about the willingness to take risks is that there is the conviction or belief that there is or should be something better or more harmonious than where one is right now.
So my work in progress summary of why music moves me:
Notes, timbres and rhythms evoke aspects of nature e.g. low notes convey the idea of something big, high notes of something whimsical and ethereal.
The interplay of notes over time depicts a story or sequence of events giving us an idea of cause and effect.
Notes played together can convey harmony and peace of mind or disharmony and tension.
Repetition can create a sense of familiarity and stability.
Voices, sounds and words can bring some emotion, thought, character or action of the vocalist or instrumentalist to mind e.g. we can empathise and know the movements and energy required to create a frenetic drum pattern or the dexterity required to perform a sequence of notes or the feeling that evokes a vocal intonation or form of words.
Parts of a piece of music can remind us of other pieces of music and bring those associations to mind.
Music can lead us to anticipate what note comes next and when an ‘expected’ note arrives, maybe after a long period of tension, that can result in a sense of euphoria, perhaps because we experience a sense of connectedness to the composer/performer.