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Music and Mood

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Music has the unique ability to affect the listeners' mood. When an athlete is pumping himself up for a game, a mathematician is trying to solve an equation, what does he do? He listens to music. When a man is romancing a woman, or a heartbroken girl is trying to calm herself after a breakup, music is used to set the tone. A director can convey a defined emotion in a scene with the right score. The music in a mass helps people stay reverent and focused. In all these cases, music plays a critical role in defining the listeners' mood and piece of mind.

There is rhythm to all things on earth. The heartbeat of a person contains a constant beat; it may speed up or slow down, depending on the mood of the person. If the person is in flight their heart beats faster. If the person is calm and relaxed, their heart will beat slower. A city has a faster rhythm, with louder sounds, because a city is fast paced and noisy. A rural town has slower rhythm because of the slow paced lifestyle. The sun, the earth's metronome, has an elliptic rhythm. Music has such a strong ability to affect mood because it contains beats and rhythms, just like life and everything in it. Music is just the tangible auditory depiction of the rhythms of life.

The time is six o'clock at night. It is two hours before game time. The star of a hockey team is taping his stick and is focused on the task at hand, getting ready to crush his opponents and tear up the ice. This hockey player has his headphones bumping to his favorite pump up song, "Du Hast" by Rammstein. He is listening to this song because it puts him in a mood of anger and instills the desire to induce pain. "Du Hast" has a strong bass drum, gothic voice, harsh guitar sounds, and up-tempo drums. The hockey player is trying to achieve a level of anger so he can play through as much pain as possible and take the ice instilling terror. The loud music and harsh tones set the scene for the player to achieve his desired mood.

The grass is always greener on the other side. It is common on the road of life where human beings feel like they have taken the wrong turn, and want to go back, back to when everything was good, the past. The feeling of nostalgia is sustained when the present is tough. Nostalgia is a longing for the past, generally during times of happiness. Nostalgia can be achieved by looking at old photo albums, watching home movies, simply thinking about the past, or by listening to music that conveys nostalgia. John Legend's song "It Don't Have to Change" is a nostalgic song. Not only the beats and rhythms (instrumentals) of this song induce nostalgia but also the lyrics. The combination of instrumentals and lyrics is what makes music so powerful because the instrumentals already set the tone for the song. A song without lyrics can still be a very moving piece of music, Beethoven or Bach for instance. Music captivates the listener so much more when meaningful lyrics are dropped in behind equally meaningful beats and rhythms. Blue notes, a sound that characterizes blues music is a sound often used to induce nostalgia. It is a sound that is soft and easy. John Legend uses blue notes and soothing piano keys to set the nostalgic tone and then drops in with lyrics about the past. "Do you remember, when the family was everything, do you remember, it was so long ago and so much has changed, I want to go back, want to go back to those simple days. I want to go back but now we've grown and gone our separate ways. Time gets hard, and things are a changing, I pray to god that we can remain the same, all I'm trying to say, is our love don't have to change, no it don't have to change" (Legend). Thus inducing a certain mood within the listener, nostalgia.

The best tool a director of a movie uses is music. One of the most common ways music is used is to affect mood in a scene for a movie or play. The music in a scene sets the tone and conveys the mood to the moviegoer. If the director is trying to convey in a chase scene that it is very intense, dangerous, and serious, he will play music that sounds intense, dangerous, and serious. Music that is loud, with very high-pitched sounds, sounds in dissonance, because the act of a chase scene is in dissonance with society, then the moviegoer will feel what the music conveys. There doesn't even need to be words, just the background music will set the tone. In the same chase scene, if the music playing is cheerful and jolly, there will be a very different outcome. The moviegoer will feel that the scene is funny, not serious, and that there isn't an immediate threat to the driver. When in actuality it is all the above, but the music set the mood and tone for it to be otherwise. The options to set the mood in this scene aren't only scary or happy. Say there are no sounds in the chase scene, total silence, except for one sound, a metronome or heartbeat. A metronome usually will have the same affect as a heartbeat, because it can increase or decrease in speed or pulse, but will always carry the beat. The moviegoer will see this scene, and the total silence except for the heartbeat or metronome, will leave the person feeling like the driver is coming to his end. Heartbeats represent life and the possible cessation of life. Just by choosing a different



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