Tuesday, January 27, 2009

An Emotional Science

Last night, my orchestra rehearsed for our next concert, and we played through parts of Mendelssohn's Elijah. We met in the band room of Small Town's middle school, which has a completely different atmosphere than the stage where we perform. The lighting is brighter and sort of institutional, and there are kid things all over the place—stuff they leave behind after school, trash can drums painted like soda cans, newspaper clippings taped to the wall, and inspirational messages their band teacher has tacked up. She is a good friend of mine and always chooses good ones to try to make the kids think beyond what they see in front of their faces.

Last night I read this quote by Gershwin: "Music is an emotional science." During rehearsal, I thought it was more of a mathematical plunger, something forcing me to come up with transposed notes on the fly because my part is written in five or six different keys. On one movement, and E is an E, but on the next it might be a C or a D or a G# or a B. Jiminy.

Apart from the horn parts in Elijah, I think Gershwin was onto something. Here is a site I stumbled on that demonstrates just what he might have meant—Musicovery.

On this site, you choose between four moods—Positive, Calm, Dark and Energetic—and the site gives you a selection of songs to listen to. You can customize the list to say you don't like one or you really do like another, and you'll end up with a playlist to fit your emotional state.

You can also choose between different styles of music, but it's more interesting if you leave them all selected. That way, when you choose Dark as your mood, you'll hear Jack Johnson singing "Sitting, Waiting, Wishing," and you'll also hear Beethoven's Piano Sonata.

When I selected Calm as my mood, I heard Moby singing "Everloving" and then Joe Pass playing "Here's That Rainy Day" on guitar. A Positive mood meant I heard Billy Holiday singing "A Foggy Day" alongside Sergio Mendes and Black Eyed Peas joining up on "Mas Que Nada." Fats Domino sang "I'm Walkin'" when I chose Energetic, and then I heard Rimsky-Korsakove's "Flight of the Bumblebee."

I don't know how scientific this all is, but music really does play to your emotions, doesn't it? No pun intended.


Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

I will check out Musicovery. Is the "covery" for dis or re? Probably both. Music takes me new places and is healing.

Thanks for this.

dive said...

That sounds a fun site, Robyn.
I love "a mathematical plunger." You have such a way with words.