Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Assignment 2

I have been far too busy and important to blog, due to writing the following pile of words. I am still unsure whether or not they make sense, but have submitted it for marking anyway:


‘Music is the art which is most nigh to tears and memory’ proclaimed Oscar Wilde in 1891. Whether this covers the self-inflicted pain of listening to music to induce tears and helplessness is left unsaid. Generally, when a human being is in pain or discomfort, the last thing they would consider doing is something to exacerbate the situation. If a stubbed toe were throbbing, hitting it with a hammer would neither assist the situation, nor induce a calmness to deal with it. So, why do we do it? Why do we listen to those songs that take us to an emotional place that, given the opportunity, we would not choose to revisit in person?

Many theories regarding ‘musical expression’ exist, and the title of such research speaks volumes. Perhaps we are listening to these expressive songs as an outlet: an emotional purge. Are we unable to vent these emotions without an aid? Maybe sitting on a doorstep, listening to an emotive song is a therapeutic outlet for emotions that would otherwise remain festering inside. ‘There is no doubt that [people] can be profoundly moved by perceiving, performing, or imagining music, and consequently music must touch on something in their emotional life that brings them into this state of excitation’ states Paul Hindemith- composer and author of ‘A Composer’s World: Horizons and Limitations’- before continuing ‘but if these mental reactions were feelings, they could not change as rapidly as they do, and they would not begin and end with the musical stimulus that aroused them’. This implies that an emotional change when listening to music is not real: merely a temporary and false expression of nothing more than a reaction. ‘We often catch the emotional ambience of our environment or of those around us’ argues Stephen Davies-‘Infectious Music: Music-Listener Emotional Contagion’- and that similarly, when listening to music, the emotion exuded through the music is infectious, similar to that of a bad feeling, fear or excitement in a crowd. Jerrold Levinson-‘Music and Negative Emotion’-states that our emotional response to music ‘mirrors’ that of a response to a real emotional situation, yet the ‘music-emotion’ differs to a real emotion in that it is not directed at an actual object. These theories reflect the reality that we feel emotion in music. We use it to vent our own feelings, to reflect our pain onto something that can absorb it, mix it up, and spit it back out at us using sounds and words that we had not contemplated, or were unable to express.

Consider that perhaps ALL these theories are correct: consider that, as Hindemith theorised, the emotions are experienced, yet are not real: a sort of play-acting. This in itself could be a therapeutic outlet for an emotion hidden inside, and as much as faking a smile cheers one up, perhaps exhibiting a ‘music-emotion’ could, in fact, be a coping strategy for those unable to vent their sadness at particular life events. Consider it a bonus that these emotions are short-lived, for as quickly as you can turn off the song, you can carry on with your daily life, and with the bonus of a weight of ‘tears and memory’ removed from your shoulders.

There are references here re quoted research, but they don't like being copied and pasted.


PS. I am soooooo not in Broomgrove Road.

Location:Broomgrove Rd,Hastings,United Kingdom

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