Music Essay

6067 words - 25 pages

Music and Emotions 2What is music? Is it a simple strum on the banjo or a raging squeal from an electric guitar? Why not both? In many cultures today, music is not limited to only one genre. Music can range from heavy metal, to classical, to country. The question isn't what music is, but rather what does music do. Different types of music elicit different emotions, but "in order to be moved by music (physically and emotionally)," Daniel Levitin argues, "it helps a great deal to have a readily predictable beat" (Levitin, 2006, pp 166). Levitin refers to this beat at groove-"that quality that moves the song forward" (Levitin, 2006, 166). The emotions people feel from listening to music are ...view middle of the document...

Music and Emotions 3One emotion often associated with jazz is chaos. Improvisation sets jazz apart from other genres of music. The act of making up music on the spot, improvisation does not always evoke positive emotions, especially for people who are unfamiliar with jazz music. For these people, jazz can seem like "an unstructured, crazy, and formless improvisation" (Levitin, 2006, pp 232). It elicits feelings of chaos and confusion. Improvisation can, however, be pleasant to listen to if the listener knows what to expect. While improvising, jazz players follow the chord progression and tune of the original song, but embellish it, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Levitin argues that just "knowing that the improvisation takes place over the original chords and form of the song" makes all the difference in whether the listener hears noise or a wonderful tune.People often choose different types of music for different activities. If one wants to relax, classical might be the choice. A party? Rock will probably be playing. A study done at Pennsylvania State University of 47 college students found that jazz is the music of choice for certain activities. The study showed that jazz was preferable during exercise (Research Links Music and Listeners' Emotions, 2003). This might be due to the fact that jazz has been shown to increase autonomic functions. In a study by Ellis and Brighouse, when people listened to jazz music, their respiration-rate and heart-rate increased (Kravitz, 1994). This isn't only helpful during exercise, but the faster heartbeats and faster breathing might also be signs of different emotions that are felt while listening to jazz. These physiological changes are signs of anger, fear, sadness, shame, and joy (Davis and Paladino, 2006, pp 258).Most emotions related to faster breathing and heartbeat are negative, but jazz is also very much related to positive emotions. Marcia Alvar, president of Public Radio Program Directors, spoke at the PRPD Conference in San Antonio, Texas, in 2004 regarding what is important to the listeners of jazz music on the radio. Jazz listeners, she said, are proud that jazz is unique toMusic and Emotions 4American culture and they also are interested in learning about the history of the music (The Core Values of Jazz Music Listening, 2004). They feel that by listening to jazz, they are connected to "a history and tradition that is uniquely American" (The Core Values of Jazz Music Listening, 2004). Improvisation is also important to jazz listeners. They enjoy the "spontaneity…and originality that make every performance of a jazz tune unique and new" (The Core Values of Jazz Music Listening, 2004).Alvar compared the effects of listening to classical music to the effects of listening to jazz. She said the "emotional benefit [of classical music] focused squarely on emotions having to do with stress relief" (The Core Values of Jazz Music Listening, 2004). Jazz, however, can do much more for a person...

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