Emotion In Music

 

Everyone knows that music can move you in so many ways. It can make you laugh, cry and even want to break things. It can put idyllic or majestic pictures in your mind and is even known to make people see colors. It triggers emotional and even physical responses in people. That to me is amazing! I suppose it's something hard wired into our brains over time and a way for us to communicate, explain or mimic the world around us. Such as a musical onomatopoeia. (Thanks Jeff W.)

 

For me, as a composer, that is one of the toughest things to achieve. Trying to translate what's in my mind into sounds and be able to trigger some kind of emotional response or put an image of something into someones mind. Music means different things to different people so ultimately when I write something it's all about how it makes me feel. However, when someone tells me how my music makes them feel it is an incredible feeling!!

 

I wrote a piece of music for chamber orchestra called "Overture To Fate" back in 03/04 I believe. It was performed by the Bloomsburg University/Community Chamber Orchestra. They did a good performance of it considering that not much time was put into it at rehearsals. As it was being performed I looked around to see how people were reacting. There were a couple people that, as far as I could tell, were really listening but most were stone-faced and politely fidgeting. But that's what people do at a "classical" music performance. After the performance I went back stage to thank everyone and was approached by a woman and her daughter. She literally had tears in her eyes. She said "Are you the composer of that piece that was performed?" I said "yes I am". She replied "that was such a beautiful piece of music."  I was in shock and really didn't know how to respond to this. I have been told different things by people about how my music makes them feel but never have I made someone tear up. I said thank you and we went our separate ways. I have no idea who this person was and no idea how I did that to her. That feeling is indescribable and so amazing!!. That is what I strive for and reach towards being a composer and a performer...

 

Improvisation 101

 

FOR ALL YOU PRACTICING MUSICIANS: I have a lot of people ask me how to improvise. Here are my top 5 tips for improvising.

 

1.  Learn the melody.   Learn the melody of any piece of music you are working on. It helps you develop melodic playing/phrasing and gives you something to build on in your solo.

 

2.  Learn the harmony.  Figure out the chords/harmony and find alternate places to play the chords.

 

3.  Shut up and listen.   This is VERY IMPORTANT! Listening to what else is going on in the music in that moment can give you ideas and inspiration to take your solos to another level. Be a follower AND a leader.

 

4.  Pace yourself.  Don't throw all your chops out in the first 4 measures. You'll run out of things to play and be redundant.

 

5.  PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE.  Know the key and possible scales. Practice the piece in different keys.

 

These are just a few things you can do/practice to be a good improviser. The trick to improvising is being able to take everything you've ever learned on your instrument and use that information to help you communicate an idea and say something in the moment.

 

My Testament

 

People ask me..why don't you write music that I can sing along with or dance to? My answer is that I do. However, I am trying to create music that invokes emotions or musically describes something with the tools available to me. Music is very subjective and means different things to different people. I am trying to create a new language that I can use to express myself. I didn't get into music to be famous or popular and have never been one to follow the musical trends. I absolutely want people to like my music and listen to it but it's not about being popular for me. It's about expressing myself and the world around me using my education, life experiences and emotional attachment to melody,rhythm and harmony. Music is really the only thing I've really even known...