Response to Music Philosophy Debate #1

Michelle – hmm I have asked quite a few people how they can tell the difference between minor and major chords, and they usually raise their eyebrows if I say “sad” or “happy” so I feel like it’s a Westernized convention, but as blissinger said before, some cultures have extensive dissonance and like it very much.. and don’t find minor to be depressing at all.. I think it all depends on how you are exposed to music in the different contexts.. Western composers will always use minor keys for sad things like elegies and funeral marches, so I suppose people link sad feelings with them in time :P when I listen to Gregorian chants and other things in rather dissonant keys like Mixolydian and Dorian, it all sounds rather depressing to me but people back then found it very passionate and very.. ‘happy’ and ‘inspiring’ in an uplifting way.

Michelle

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Response to Music Philosophy Debate #1

blissinger – Maybe the brain is hardwired to respond one way to minor chords, another to major chords. But then how do we explain, for example, Chinese singing, which just sounds like a tortured cat to anyone whose brain isn’t adapted to it. So how much of our response is organic and how much is cultural?

Ermilia – I’ve never taken music theory, but my mom is a psychologist. She did some very interesting experiments about how music affects intelligence. She had rats run a maze and then listen to music, The classical rats made it through the maze faster, the country rats made it through a little slower. The rats without music got a little faster and the hard metal rats became violent, had to be separated, and tried to eat the maze. Needless to say I was only allowed to listen to classical growing up. -Eliabeth