Music Introduction to Humanities
Music chapter 9 • Music is one of the most powerful of the arts partly because sounds – more than any other sensory stimulus – create in us involuntary reactions, pleasant or unpleasant. • There is no escaping the effects of music except by turning off the source.
HEARERS AND LISTENERS • Music can be experienced in two basic ways: “hearing” or “listening.” • Hearers, do not attempt to perceive accurately either the structure or the details of the form. • They may hear a familiar melody which may trigger associations to their memory.
Hearers and Listeners cont’d • The listeners, conversely, concentrate their attention upon the form, details as well as structure. • Listeners focus upon the form that informs, that creates content. • Listeners do not just listen: they listen for something – the content.
THE ELEMENTS OF MUSIC • First important terms and concepts of music essential to a clear discussion. • Tone: a sound that has one definite frequency or that is dominated by one definite frequency is a tone. • Most music is composed of a succession of tones.
Cont’d • Consonance: when two or more tones are sounded simultaneously and the result is pleasing to the ear, the resultant sound is said to be consonant. • For example, what sounds dissonant or unpleasant often becomes more consonant after repeated hearing. • Also, there is the influence of context: a combination of notes may seem dissonant in isolation or within one set of surrounding notes and consonant within another set.
Cont’d • Dissonance: This unpleasantness is a result of wave interference and a phenomenon called “beating” which accounts for the roughness we perceive in dissonance. • The most powerful dissonance is achieved when notes close to one another in pitch are sounded simultaneously.
Terms Cont’d • Rhythm: is a term referring to the temporal relationships of organized sounds. Rhythm marks when a given note is to be played, and how long it is to be played (its duration). • Our perception of rhythm in a composition is also affected by accent or stress on given notes.
Terms cont’d • Tempo: is the speed at which a composition is played. • We perceive tempo in terms of beats, just as we perceive the tempo of our heartbeat as seventy-two pulses per minute, approximately. • Many tempos have descriptive names indicating the general time value.
Terms cont’d • Melody: is usually defined as a group of notes played one after another having a perceivable shape, or having a perceivable beginning, middle, and end. • Usually a melody is easily recognizable when replayed. • We not only recognize melodies easily but can say a great deal about them.
Terms cont’d • Counterpoint: by staggering the melodic lines as in folk songs such as “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” this is called counterpoint • A playing of one or more motives, themes, or melodies against each other. • It implies an independence of simultaneous melodic lines, each of which can, at times, be most clearly audible.
Terms cont’d • Harmony: is the sounding of tones simultaneously. • It is the vertical dimension, as with a chord (fig 9-2) as opposed to the horizontal dimension, with a melody. • A chord is a group of notes sounded together that has a specific relationship to a given key: the chord C-E-G, for example, is a major triad in the key of C major.
Terms cont’d • Dynamics: one of the most easily perceived elements of music is dynamics: loudness and softness. • Composers explore dynamics – as they explore keys, timbres, melodies, rhythms, and harmonic – to achieve variety, to establish a pattern against which they can play, build tension and release it, and to provide the surprise which can delight an audience.
THE SUBJECT MATTER OF MUSIC • Our theory identifies two basic kinds of subject matter: feeling (emotions, passions, and moods) and sound. • It is difficult for music to refer to specific objects and events outside itself. • Therefore it is difficult to think of music as having the same kind of subject matter as a representational painting, a figurative sculpture, or a realistic novel.
FEELINGS • The content of music is the interpretation of those feelings. • Feelings are composed basically of sensations, emotions, passions, and moods. • Any awareness of our sense organs, whether internal or external being stimulated is a sensation.
Cont’d • Emotions are strong sensations felt as related to a specific and apparent stimulus. • Passions are emotions elevated to great intensity. • Moods, on the other hand, are sensations that arise from no specific or apparent stimulus, as when one awakens with a feeling or lassitude or gloom.
Brief Summary • Music with its capacity to evoke feelings, and with a complexity of detail and structure that in many ways is greater than that of language, may be able to reveal or interpret feeling with much more precision than language. • There is mystery about music, unique among the arts; that is part of its fascination. • -30-