Does listening to pop music make you emotional?

Started by vers la flamme, September 24, 2022, 05:52:26 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

vers la flamme

This is something I noticed a couple years back for the first time, when I first started getting into classical music, and then I read something in the book High Fidelity that made me think about it again. So I've loved music my whole life, and my first loves were rock, punk, metal, hip-hop, jazz, folk, and electronic—classical came much later. But ever since getting into classical music, I've noticed that whenever I listen to pop music (or rock, or metal, or hip-hop, or folk, or—good God, especially—country), I become extremely emotional. A wide variety of emotions, too; I guess, whatever the song is going for, sometimes different (ie. sometimes a happy pop song will make me sad, etc.)—but the point is, a lot more emotional than when I'm listening to classical music. It's almost like the writers of 20th and 21st century pop songs are going straight for the gut, making music that is designed to hit hard, to leave an emotional impact on the listener, and that the emotions employed by classical composers are much subtler. None of this is to say that classical music is emotionless, or doesn't make me feel anything. Of course it does, or I wouldn't be listening to it. Maybe it's simply that the emotions that classical music expresses are more sophisticated, and that the emotions of pop music are more direct? I truly don't know, but I don't know how I ever listened to things like this:



or this:



... without melting into a puddle of feelings. I'm a guy who generally likes feeling emotionally stable, so as a result, 90% of the music I listen to these days is classical. (Though I'm not at all sure that that's really the reason why.)

If anyone cares, this is the bit from High Fidelity that got me thinking about this nonsense again:

QuoteWhat came first, the music or the misery? Did I listen to music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to music? Do all those records turn you into a melancholy person?

People worry about kids playing with guns, and teenagers watching violent videos; we are scared that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands - literally thousands - of songs about broken hearts and pain and misery and loss. The unhappiest people I know, romantically speaking, are the ones who like pop music the most; and I don't know whether pop music has caused this unhappiness, but I do know that they've been listening to the sad songs longer than they've been living the unhappy lives.

Does this happen to anyone else?

k a rl h e nn i ng

Interesting, thanks. I guess I ended to mull (I hope that fact doesn't immediately disqualify me)
8)
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Todd

This all seems starkly and narrowly Western in outlook.  Do you become emotional if you listen to, say, I-pop?

As to the idea that "the emotions that classical music expresses are more sophisticated", well, that seems like claptrap.  How does one assess emotional sophistication?  Really, what does that mean?
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

People would rather believe than know - E.O. Wilson

The dollar is our currency, but it's your problem - US Treasury Secretary John Connally to European Finance Ministers, 1971

vers la flamme

Quote from: Todd on September 24, 2022, 06:29:11 PM
This all seems starkly and narrowly Western in outlook.  Do you become emotional if you listen to, say, I-pop?


It is.

Quote from: Todd on September 24, 2022, 06:29:11 PM

As to the idea that "the emotions that classical music expresses are more sophisticated", well, that seems like claptrap.  How does one assess emotional sophistication?  Really, what does that mean?

I haven't assessed anything. Just observing and asking questions.

Mandryka

#4
I think that where you have the voice, the human voice, there's the potential for a strong sympathetic emotional response to the music. Sympathetic in the sense of David Hume - a sort of innate communication mechanism whereby (more or less) if we perceive someone who is emoting, that emotion gets transferred to us. You'll find lots on Humean sympathy on line I'm sure, if not I'll find the text.

Add to this that in pop music you have the words, the poem, which you can understand. So you know exactly what they're suggesting they're feeling for sympathy to get to work.

So it's not about pop music, it's about vocal music. Opera and lieder, music like Mahler 8. Listen to an emotional character in an English opera  for example, Peter Grimes. Or an aria from the Bach passions in English.




Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

71 dB

#5
Pop music uses mostly triads and is free from the shackles of functional harmony. This perhaps allows stronger emotional impact?

Baroque era is harmonically pretty simple (complexity is in the counterpoint) and gradually things go more chromatic and chords have more notes than three etc. witch brings harmonic color, but perhaps less emotion, after all the most emotional chord is minor triad, I think.

Spatial distortion is a serious problem deteriorating headphone listening.
Crossfeeders reduce spatial distortion and make the sound more natural
and less tiresome in headphone listening.

My Sound Cloud page <-- NEW track "Jazzz"

Todd

Quote from: vers la flamme on September 24, 2022, 06:57:00 PMI haven't assessed anything. Just observing and asking questions.

What is emotional sophistication, how is it determined, and by whom?  How can one determine if classical music expresses more sophisticated emotions than pop music, whatever that actually is?  A corollary question is what is "classical music"?  I know what I mean, but I also know that definition has no objective value.

To answer your question, no, listening to pop music does not make a person emotional.  Being alive does.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

People would rather believe than know - E.O. Wilson

The dollar is our currency, but it's your problem - US Treasury Secretary John Connally to European Finance Ministers, 1971

vers la flamme

Quote from: Mandryka on September 24, 2022, 07:04:42 PM
I think that where you have the voice, the human voice, there's the potential for a strong sympathetic emotional response to the music. Sympathetic in the sense of David Hume - a sort of innate communication mechanism whereby (more or less) if we perceive someone who is emoting, that emotion gets transferred to us. You'll find lots on Humean sympathy on line I'm sure, if not I'll find the text.

Add to this that in pop music you have the words, the poem, which you can understand. So you know exactly what they're suggesting they're feeling for sympathy to get to work.

So it's not about pop music, it's about vocal music. Opera and lieder, music like Mahler 8. Listen to an emotional character in an English opera  for example, Peter Grimes. Or an aria from the Bach passions in English.

I definitely agree that the voice element is a big part of it, and being in a familiar language, of course, helps, though I've heard plenty of pop songs in, say, Portuguese that have a similar effect.

Quote from: Todd on September 24, 2022, 08:04:36 PM
To answer your question, no, listening to pop music does not make a person emotional.  Being alive does.

Keen observation. I'm not asking whether listening to pop music makes a person emotional; I'm asking whether listening to pop music makes you emotional, to which I guess your answer is no. It does for me, and I was simply wondering whether anyone else shared this experience. I did not start this thread to debate semantics on the meanings of emotions or classical music, and I really do not care to do so with you.

LKB

#8
While l enjoy pop, country, folk, bluegrass and Dixieland a great deal, l can't say that any compositions in any of those genres have ever impacted me emotionally in the same way that " classical music " has.

Perhaps it comes down to the difference between writing music to entertain, and writing to enhance.

There are exceptions, of course. Don Mclean's  Vincent has always moved me since it was a top- 40 hit back when l was a teenager. And l was similarly affected by Gilbert o' Sullivan's "  Alone again ( Naturally ) ".

But generally speaking, it is opera, symphonies and Concerti which deliver the bang for the buck, emotionally speaking.
Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen...

greg

Quote from: vers la flamme on September 24, 2022, 05:52:26 PM
Maybe it's simply that the emotions that classical music expresses are more sophisticated, and that the emotions of pop music are more direct?
Pop music has always felt flat and lifeless to me. Never understood the appeal, and don't really feel much emotion when I hear it.
Typically I go for stuff that is highly exploratory, intense, often dark, maybe nostalgic, feels like an adventure, etc.
As far as Romanticism and beyond, "sophistication" isn't a word I like, moreso it's the bold adventuring into musically unknown territory and having little reservations about self-expression which is the most thrilling.
Wagie wagie get back in the cagie

Mandryka

Quote from: vers la flamme on September 24, 2022, 08:52:04 PM
I definitely agree that the voice element is a big part of it, and being in a familiar language, of course, helps, though I've heard plenty of pop songs in, say, Portuguese that have a similar effect.


Have a listen to Total Eclipse from Händel's Samson and see if it has the same effect.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Jo498

I never much cared for pop music and almost never listen to it nowadays. Some of it would have a certain nostalgic/emotional aspect because of dim remembrances and recollections. But since I discovered classical music at about 14-15 it was always far mor important to me emotionally..

While I am myself wary about expressions such as "emotional sophistication", we clearly have an idea of simple or complex emotions. And art can do better or worse in expressing complex emotional states. I don't hold a specific opinion here but Rosen has one example of an aria in Così fan tutte where supposedly the music expresses in a accord with the text one of the girls both wanting to resist and yield to the tempation of the new lover. IIRC Rosen claims that the baroque opera style of 50 years earlier would have failed/struggled to express such a state and tries to explain how superbly Mozart achieves this goal.
Regardless of the plausibility of this particular example it does not seem a nonsensical idea to me.
Tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos, dans une chambre.
- Blaise Pascal

Florestan

#12
Quote from: Mandryka on September 24, 2022, 07:04:42 PM
it's not about pop music, it's about vocal music. Opera and lieder, music like Mahler 8. Listen to an emotional character in an English opera  for example, Peter Grimes. Or an aria from the Bach passions in English.

My thoughts exactly.

Quote from: vers la flamme on September 24, 2022, 05:52:26 PM
It's almost like the writers of 20th and 21st century pop songs are going straight for the gut, making music that is designed to hit hard, to leave an emotional impact on the listener,

That's exactly what all opera composers all throughout history were supposed to do.
"Art is no excuse for boring people." - Jules Renard

Mandryka

Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Mandryka

One composer is exploring exactly what it is about the voice which makes it a good transmitter of emotions. And she is trying to develop new ways with instruments which simulate that effect. That composer is Cassandra Miller. An example is her violin solo piece, For Myra, where the instrumentalist is asked to simulate the style of Kurt Cobain in the song Where Did you Sleep Last Night.


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EVrLLi2KcmA
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wlV1xIw2fVE
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Todd

Quote from: vers la flamme on September 24, 2022, 08:52:04 PMI did not start this thread to debate semantics on the meanings of emotions or classical music, and I really do not care to do so with you.

That's fine, you don't have to do anything, but the phrase "emotional sophistication" is a loaded phrase, with multiple implications about not only the music under consideration, but also the listener, and said listener's sophistication, etc.  Since you wrote it, one must conclude you wrote it for a reason.  A simpler alternate question getting right to the heart of what you claim was your intent would be: "Does pop music evoke a greater or lesser emotional response in you than classical music, or other types of music?"

Having definitions sure would help, but, you know, semantics.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

People would rather believe than know - E.O. Wilson

The dollar is our currency, but it's your problem - US Treasury Secretary John Connally to European Finance Ministers, 1971

vers la flamme

Quote from: Mandryka on September 25, 2022, 01:10:40 AM
Here's a goodie

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HU4MZxe9beU

I can't say that I walked away from that wanting to cry, per se, but that was amazing. I'll definitely need to hear the rest of Samson. I'm always forgetting how much I enjoy Handel's music. I'll have to give that Cassandra Miller piece a listen soon too.

@Florestan, very interesting comments re: opera. I never got all the way into opera like so many other people have, but I have definitely heard people describe composers such as Puccini in the same kind of language I used to describe pop songwriters (ie. going straight for the gut, writing "tear jerking" music).

I've enjoyed everyone's comments—it's very interesting seeing that some of you have the opposite reaction, where pop music leaves you cold and classical music has more of an emotional effect. Maybe there's something wrong with me. I mean, I watched Blade Runner last night and the soundtrack got me teary eyed in places.  ;D

Pohjolas Daughter

Quote from: vers la flamme on September 25, 2022, 05:51:56 AM
I can't say that I walked away from that wanting to cry, per se, but that was amazing. I'll definitely need to hear the rest of Samson. I'm always forgetting how much I enjoy Handel's music. I'll have to give that Cassandra Miller piece a listen soon too.

@Florestan, very interesting comments re: opera. I never got all the way into opera like so many other people have, but I have definitely heard people describe composers such as Puccini in the same kind of language I used to describe pop songwriters (ie. going straight for the gut, writing "tear jerking" music).

I've enjoyed everyone's comments—it's very interesting seeing that some of you have the opposite reaction, where pop music leaves you cold and classical music has more of an emotional effect. Maybe there's something wrong with me. I mean, I watched Blade Runner last night and the soundtrack got me teary eyed in places.  ;D
Music overall effects me emotionally--or can if it's a piece or a song or an opera, musical, etc., that I enjoy.  It can make me happy or sad (sometimes cry)...or feel other emotions.  It's all good--in my book anyway!  :)

PD

vers la flamme

I will note that the last time I actually really cried listening to music, was not anything pop but Berio's Sinfonia.

Florestan

#19
Quote from: vers la flamme on September 25, 2022, 05:51:56 AM
@Florestan, very interesting comments re: opera. I never got all the way into opera like so many other people have, but I have definitely heard people describe composers such as Puccini in the same kind of language I used to describe pop songwriters (ie. going straight for the gut, writing "tear jerking" music).

Exactly.

QuoteI've enjoyed everyone's comments—it's very interesting seeing that some of you have the opposite reaction, where pop music leaves you cold and classical music has more of an emotional effect.

The only "pop" music which comes close to the emotional effect "classical" music has on me is some French singers (mostly Tino Rossi, Jo Dassin and Charles Aznavour), a few Italian songs, a few songs by Queen, Dire Straits/Mark Knopfler and Eric Clapton, and a rather big chunk of country/western. But it should be noted that most of them have strong extra-musical associations for me which are themselves quite sentimental/emotional, actually.

As for "emotional sophistication" in "classical" music, I think that it's not the emotions themselves which are more sophisticated than in "pop" music but the means by which they are expressed/suggested.
"Art is no excuse for boring people." - Jules Renard