The emotional power of music stands as multidisciplinary research, which includes philosopher, psychologists, neuroscientists, and musicologists. From these theoretical and practice-based views, the relationship between emotion and music is explored, often showcasing music as a form of emotional communication (The Emotional Power of Music). According to psychologist Nico Frijda, emotion is a way for us to deal with the world as well as offer us a way analyze and understand it.
Though the main objective of my PhD research is to analyze how nature soundscapes can influence relaxation, my interpretation of the soundscapes could be entirely different to the listener. Take for instance my most recent work ‘Moonscape.’ Using a field recording of the wind from my balcony, I paired this with a F minor piano chord from BandLab that fades in and out throughout 10 minutes. The F minor chord is associated with “deep depression, funereal lament, groans of misery and longing for the grave” (Musical Key Characteristics). An example of this includes,
“Looking at Beethoven’s first piano sonata, written in F minor, we can find a particularly strong place for melancholy in the third movement, a minuet and trio. The left and right hand imitate each other, we have dramatic pauses, and a syncopated melody, all designed to throw the listener off by just a little bit” (F Minor Examples).
With these common sad, melancholy emotions F minor brings, I believe it is reasonable to assume listeners might take away a sense of eeriness, uncertainty, or sadness from listening to the ‘Moonscape’ piece. However, I also believe the added elements to ‘Moonscape’ transform the F minor into a sound communicating the emotions of relaxation, peace, or rest. The nature field recording of nighttime wind was added as the main background noise, lasting throughout the entire piece. This is the main, consistent sound, providing a grounding, stable place for the listener to leave and return to when the F minor fades in and out.
“The sound of wind is one of the most relaxing sounds in existence. This sound alone eases away stress and makes everything outside look more calm and quiet. The sound of wind is great for helping one to fall asleep and for covering background noises. Wind noise is a natural source of white noise.”
To generate your own wind sound and experience this for yourself, check out this wind generator:
From my experience, F minor added to the wind field recording changes the emotion of the overall piece to one of calm and quiet, much like the stillness of a moonlit night. In my thesis I plan on exploring this topic in more detail.
The Emotional Power of Music: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Musical Arousal, Expression, and Social Control. (2013). United Kingdom: OUP Oxford.
Watch Moonscape here: