The Psychology of Music: A Survey for Teacher and Musician

By Max Schoen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
THE VARIETIES OF MUSICAL EFFECTS: IDEATIONAL

THE EFFECT OF MUSIC ON THE human being has ever been a fascinating field for speculation and experimentation. History and literature abound with accounts of wonders worked by music, poets sing of its beneficial results, while several attempts have been made to investigate the matter experimentally. We shall survey this literature from the effects of single tones, through tonal combinations, to composition as a whole.


THE EFFECT OF TONES AND KEYS

We have already seen in a previous connection that tones of different pitch produce a variety of effects in the different sensory fields. Low tones are soft, mild, dull, massive, heavy, sluggish, while high tones are pointed, sharp, cutting, shrill, penetrating, thin, bright. Tones are also described as sweet, sour, smooth, rough, caressing, colorless, full, empty, rich, poor, and numerous other characterizations. Composers utilize low registers to depict situations that are dark, threatening, stormy, gloomy, and the higher registers for opposite effects.

There is a considerable amount of literature, both speculative and experimental, regarding the effects of the different keys.

In the Politics, Aristotle states that in "poetry and music there are limitations of manners; and this is evident, for different harmonies differ from each other so much by nature, that those who hear them are differently affected, and are not in the same disposition of mind when one is performed as when another is; the one, for instance, occasions grief and contracts the soul, as the Mixolydian: others soften the mind, and as it were dissolve the heart: others fix it in a firm and settled state, such is

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