What Makes Music Fit a Mood?
Music is an art form that has the power to evoke emotions and influence our moods. Have you ever listened to a song and suddenly felt sad, happy, or even angry? This is because music can communicate with us on a psychological level. Let’s explore what makes music fit a mood and how different musical elements contribute to this phenomenon.
One primary factor determining how music can fit a mood is its tempo. The tempo of a song refers to its speed. It can significantly impact the emotions we feel while listening to it. Sometimes fast-paced music with a high tempo can make us feel excited, energetic, or anxious. On the other hand, slow music with a low beat can evoke feelings of calmness, relaxation, or even sadness.
Another crucial aspect that contributes to the emotional impact of music is its tonality. Tonality refers to the key that a piece of music is written in. It influences the overall mood of the piece. Music written in a major key tends to sound happy, while music written in a minor key is often associated with sadness, melancholy, or angst.
Harmony & Melody
The harmony and melody of a song also play a significant role in creating a particular mood. Harmony refers to the combination of different notes played simultaneously. Melody refers to the sequence of notes played one after the other. The harmony and melody of a song work together to create a sense of conflict and resolution; tension and release, which influences our emotional response to the music.
All By Myself, made famous by Celine Dion (originally by Eric Carmen) plays on the push and pull of tension and release. This is due to the modal mixture of the original key being G major, yet borrowing notes from the key of G minor to gently nudge you into the darker context of the song. We can give thanks to Sergei Rachmaninoff for this bittersweet, romantic feel, as All By Myself is based on the second movement of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2.
Lyrics can tell a story, express emotions, or convey a message, all of which can evoke different feelings in the listener. A sad song with lyrics about heartbreak can make us empathise with the singer’s emotions, while an upbeat song with lyrics about love can make us feel joy.
The choice of instruments, the way they are played, and the music’s overall sound can all influence our mood. For instance, strings, piano, and acoustic guitar can create a sense of intimacy and tenderness. In contrast, using electric guitars, drums, and synthesizers can create a more energetic and aggressive sound.
When creating the soundtrack for Dune (2021), Hans Zimmer thought about the textures of the world to create the score. What represents the depth of the sand worms, or the lightness of floating spice?
Culture & Personal Experience
Our cultural and personal associations with certain types of music can also influence how we perceive and respond to it. Music associated with a particular genre, time period, or cultural tradition can evoke specific emotions and memories in the listener. Similarly, our personal experiences and memories of a specific song or artist can influence our emotional response to their music.
Music has the power to evoke strong psychological reactions and influence our mood. Understanding how music fits a mood can help us appreciate and enjoy music on a deeper level. It can also help us create and curate playlists that match our current emotional state or fit a mood. Check out our collections page to explore moods, or discover music to fit a mood using the navigation tools on Synchedin!