Musical Emotions

Music is often sung as the language of emotion. Some maintain that poetry portrays emotion more so than music. Some would also contend to the end that writing is the maestro of all emotive outlets. I feel that all of them are measured with equal parts of creative pattern and emotional baggage, and all are resultant upon pleasure and that of pain.

All channels of creativity move beyond emotion in their own way. It is my opinion that emotion is merely reactionary; it is how we react towards the outlying energy that surrounds us. All of these separate channels all flow from the same spring of sensation, which feeds the rousing river of passion. The pleasure sustained from these artistic agendas is most often derived from the feeling of our own pattern. It is how these patterns feed off of our experiences and the emotion of the art we create that seems to have mixed-up my attention span as of late.

I am going to stick to the emotive pattern of music when it comes to the arrangement of this poignant performance. It’s in the mystery of music and the emotion it creates, as to how pleasure and pain can perpetrate the patterns of our life. Music must be regarded as emotional in the sense that it transports us to the furthest extremities of emotion, these being toward the likes of exuberance and melancholic.

We tend to think of emotion as a grab bag of moods filled with rage, angst, and delight. Emotions are as primitive as the man who wandered through caves his life’s entirety. Over the last couple of decades, cognitive professionals have started rejecting the older notions of emotions. It is still acknowledged that man will always carry with him the primeval mechanisms of fight or flight. Emotion has been recognized as being critical to reasoning. With this emergence of newfangled thought in the direction of reasoning, the old school notion of emotion is now perceived as irrational.

Many theories have been born since the inception of emotion as critical to reason. Emotion could be seen as a means of weighting the attention one is given to an incoming experience; others see emotion as directed and instigated thought. There is one theory that fits music’s emotional experience so well, that it should in fact, prove that music alone is postulated by the confirmation needed to give the theory validity. It is called the “discrepancy theory,” which regards emotion as a reaction to an unexpected experience. We will discuss how it works later.

One of the reasons for the ever-changing view of emotion is the congregating evidence that victims of emotion-related mental damage lose the capacity for self-organization. This is true when the right frontal lobe is injured—the part of the brain closely concurrent to the system that is vital to emotional value.  It is proven that people become emotionally impassive when this part of the cortex is impaired. They do not notice their infirmity, or they just don’t care. In comparison, someone with left frontal lobe damage retains emotive response and reacts with despondency.

Why are these frontal lobes imperative to emotion? They are fundamental for planning elongated sequences of activity, but in the end, these lobes demonstrate themselves as the disciplinarian of the brain. They carry the torch for the rest of the brain, without them, other parts of the brain would meander in their activities, going the direction of least resistance, and trending towards habit.

The frontal lobes are very active in the construction of short-term memory. This is achieved in cooperation with the sensory mechanism. When we keep an image in our imagination, it is constructed with a visual but sustained by the frontal lobes, which inhibits the image from waning away. In the sense of similarity, these frontal lobes act upon the auditory senses, which allows us to hold the anticipation of music for many seconds while we wait for the resolution.

These frontal lobes are also the main control center for our attention, deciding which path to take, which direction to look, or what kind of music shall we immerse ourselves in today? For brevity’s sake, it is the damage done to frontal lobe by of emotional distraught that almost always results in short attention span, or the inability to…..

Planning. Short-term memory. Attention span. These functions seem like diverse activities that just so happen to be packed into the same region of the brain. But if you take a closer look, they are facets of the unpretentious phenomenon called restraint. Planning restrains our brain from wandering off the chosen path. Short-term memory restrains the senses from moving on to a different image. Attention constrains the infinite amount of senses from cluttering the sensory mechanism.

It is in any given moment that our brains can only process a slither of the torrent of experience that comes our direction; the body can carry out only one action of the hundreds that are possible; our intellectual response can model only one fragment of reality amidst infinitesimal possibility. There is no point in trying to possess the marvelous resolving power of our visual and auditory senses, if these mechanisms are applied to trivial ends. The nervous system must always be on the lookout for the most significant activities to which one should dedicate themselves. This is the definitive purpose of emotion.

Emotion could be considered as a special case of motivation. We carry out plans by anticipating desired results and seeking to satisfy those anticipations. Let’s use money as an example. Let’s say you have twenty dollars in your wallet, you pay for something with that twenty dollars and go about your day. First you anticipated its existence and then moved on from it. But anticipations are not always met. You may find that the twenty dollars is missing and become annoyed, or even furious. Or you may find that you have much more money than you thought, and will be pleased or even ecstatic. The state in which you find the anticipated twenty dollars draws no particular response and is motivation in its simplest state. The other two cases exemplify stronger responses because there has been a discrepancy between anticipation and reality. These discrepancies are the basis of emotion, of e-motion (from the Latin word exmovere, or to “move away from anticipation”)

All emotion is either positive or negative. There is no such thing as neutral emotion. Negative emotions arise when the anticipation of experience does not meet your expected reality. Positive emotions come around when the experience exceeds the expectation of what you anticipate. Most anticipation is small in the grand scheme of things, and most discrepancies are minute and barely register a beat on the Richter scale of surge and outburst. Emotion mostly bobs up and down in the sea of motivation. We are inclined to experience a feeling of well-being when these little pieces of positive emotional events occur with persistence, and we become dejected or ill-tempered when a train of trivial and adverse events steadily accosts us.

It is in these principles that we see how easy it is for music to generate emotion. Music sets up anticipation and then satisfies it. It can withhold its resolution, and heighten anticipation by doing so, and then it satisfies the anticipation in a flood of resolve. When music goes out of its way to violate the very expectations that it sets up, it is called expression. Musicians breathe feeling into the arrangement by introducing minute deviations in timing and loudness. But it is a composer–or in this case–writer that builds expression into the composition by purposely violating the anticipation that he has established.

See you soon.

BeLove © 2018


The Movement In Music

Music is one of the purest forms of art. It can uplift our spirits or it can send them into a downward spiral. Music is the one thing that I have always connected deeply with. It is the one thing that I can always relate to with ease. I have used music most of my life as a form of communication. That may or may not be a good thing, but it is my thing. It is my niche. We all have our favorite songs, our favorite albums and our favorite bands. We all feel the ecstasy that is hidden in the movement of music. It is euphoric in its euphony. Music is the vessel that carries us away from the pain. It can also sail us back in the direction of where the pain originated. It has always amazed me that one simple lyric can make or break your entire mindset for the day.

Why do I communicate with music more than I should?

It has often echoed through my mind that it could be something lodged in my subconscious from the first time I watched the movie “Say Anything” when I was a mere twelve years old. The scene when Lloyd held up the boom box while blasting Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” for Diane at the butt-crack of dawn moved me to tears. That scene really did its part to position me into the hopeless romantic that I was for so many years and still show signs of being from time to time. If I am not mistaken that was Cameron Crowe’s directorial debut. He has always held an ability to compound his message in the most romantic yet man-grounded way, which is something that I admire. Crowe’s “Almost Famous” is one of the most original and soul-satisfying movies of our generation.

When it comes to communicating with music, I would round it up to the nearest value of thought that the reason why I enjoy sharing songs that I connect with is simple.  It is because of the subtle romantic process that creates feeling behind the lyrics of all the things I have ever wanted to say to someone. The things I didn’t know how to say with the same oomph, so to speak. The things I am now learning how to say, with said oomph.

Music is a relationship within itself. The notes, the beats, the lyrics, the succession of sound, they all interconnect to produce a composition that breathes unity and continuity.   The social organization of the world could learn a valuable lesson from the movement of music.  It has the ability to speak to us in ways that words cannot. It takes deeper than just ordinary experience. It has always supported us through the up’s and down’s in this labyrinth of life. It is an unsullied form of transcendence.

Music arrives in our hearts and trickles through our veins headed towards the brain. Once it arrives in our mind we begin to make sense of the melody, the harmony, the rhythm and the form. By eliciting these anticipations, music withdraws the deepest levels of our emotions.  Music is the corona that blends the light with the dark and creates compassion within us all.

Music provides the mind with careful ordered experience—a perfectly placed movement and the bliss beneath it. In daily routine, the mind does its best to make sense of the world and its displaced order. It easily finds the superficial associations among the objects it encounters. Music allows us the ability to escape these superficial objects that encircle us and find freedom in the beauty of a simple melody. Or it could be a lyrical verse that rearranges the soul and points it in the direction of our dreams. Either way, music is a vessel that we should hope to be able to board for life’s eternity.

Music makes us more than we really are, and the world more orderly than it really is. We respond not just to the beauty of the continuous deep relations that are revealed in music, but also to the fact of how we perceive them. Our mind is thrown into overdrive and we feel our very existence expand and recognize that we can be more than what we really are, therefore the world is more than it seems. This alone is proof that movement in music is in fact, ecstasy.

What I love about music is that sometimes in a song that you’ve never heard everything about yourself begins to make sense.

Steve Mason / Lost And Found

Spin Me Around & Call Me Spun

This is the first poem I ever wrote.  Damn near 20 years ago.

Morning light ascends dripped in a dream passed
The moon basks behind a mask
Stars sprinkle with a twinkle
Thoughts go numb to the beat of a drum
Clouds of sanity trickle through the vanity
As we become one with the blazing sun
Vision turns hazy, into colors that melt lazy
Looking for something I couldn’t find, in the absence of my mind
Shadows start chasing, behind reality racing
A drop of this tincture paints a pretty picture
Careful not to trip on that daisy, she might drive you crazy
Then I saw her there, doused in a beauty that filled the air
Into her glare, I caught a stare
All because she knew who she was
When heaven shined from high above
A kiss so sweet that it tickled my feet
Climb this creation, here hold my hallucination
We watch as day turns diluted by night
Eyes flutter in the sight of an unseen light
Spirits lift high above this place as we meander into space
We dance to the glory of time forgetting its story
You follow my lead away from distractions that exceed
Through a common ground, drenched in sound
We lay our heads upon some meadow bed
With the lift of your gown, in passion we drown
Reality takes a rest as we give it our best
Dipped in another dose of fun, together we touch the sun
My hesitation slips as you lift your hips
Symmetry flips between existence eclipsed
I’ll carry you to the end or just past the bend
Wake me when you go, before the rooster’s crow
Together we spin around
And You call me Spun
BeLove © 2017

The next chapter has a story.

No one has ever asked what took me to Widespread Panic?