Gaiman & Pratchett
1990/1991. Signing our way across America. We were babies.
Why does music make us feel? On the one hand, music is a purely abstract art form, devoid of language or explicit ideas. The stories it tells are all subtlety and subtext. And yet, even though music says little, it still manages to touch us deep, to tickle some universal nerves. When listening to our favorite songs, our body betrays all the symptoms of emotional arousal… In other words, sound stirs us at our biological roots. As Schopenhauer wrote, “It is we ourselves who are tortured by the strings.”
What is the source of that torture? Music creates it by setting up a system and creating a pattern we feel we can complete in our minds, and then subverts these expectations by delaying as long as it can the completion of that pattern.According to Meyer, it is the suspenseful tension of music (arising out of our unfulfilled expectations) that is the source of the music’s feeling. While earlier theories of music focused on the way a noise can refer to the real world of images and experiences (its “connotative” meaning), Meyer argued that the emotions we find in music come from the unfolding events of the music itself. This “embodied meaning” arises from the patterns the symphony invokes and then ignores, from the ambiguity it creates inside its own form.
So pretty much what all of this fancy technology used by the study has found is that we love music because good music is flirting. It comes dangerously close to giving us what we want by producing the pattern we expect, and then yanks it all back at the last moment just before it is within our grasp. That particular pleasure of consistent near misses followed by the elation felt when the loop finally closes and we get what we have been wanting, that’s just… magic.
But, the Ronettes could of told us that a long time ago.
Aside: Be My Baby. Best song ever. No doubt in my mind about that.On Youtube…