How Does Music Communicate Emotion

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1152 |

Pages: 3|

6 min read

Published: Nov 8, 2019

Words: 1152|Pages: 3|6 min read

Published: Nov 8, 2019

Music has been around since the dawn of humans. It is so deeply ingrained into society and into our lives. There must be a reason why humans connect so deeply to music and why it has stuck around for so long. I believe this reason is because music communicates feelings and emotions so deeply. Take spirituals as an example. Slaves began using this music to help pass the time and to communicate how they were feeling at this horrible point in their lives. “Have courage my soul and let us journey on/Though the night is dark, and I am far from home” Tindley is a lyric from a spiritual we are currently learning in my choir class. Just in these few sentences, there is so much emotion being communicated. Singing can be considered therapeutic to many. I believe that music is the best way to communicate a message or an emotion.

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According to Kamien (2018), the first written music comes from around the 9th century. The music of this time was centered around the churches. Kamien speaks about how this music is very symbolic. For example, the choirs would sing a singular melody throughout in unison, to communicate the idea of the church being a unified organization. They also would avoid the use of instruments, because they believed that the use of instruments would communicate the idea of evil to the church followers and to God. Kamien says they believed this because Pagans would use instruments in their rituals, making them of the devil. This symbolic communication continues through the use of Latin text, which was the official language of the Roman Catholic Churches.

The main reason choirs even began using music vocally was to communicate more effectively. According to the author, the singers of the choirs were encouraged “to sing with proper pronunciation, concentration and tone quality” (p. 67). This made it easier for church goers to understand not only the messages of the church, but to actually understand the words themselves. In my music appreciation class, we discussed how while singing, having proper technique in singing made it easier to understand words because they were more drawn out and accommodated the acoustics of the church. This helped the churches communicate the word of God in the best way they knew.

Kamien continues to describe how the pope and Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, used music to communicate the idea of unity. Charlemange wanted the popes of his time to begin finding a way to write down music, so that the music could be easily spread through the totality of the territory he reigned over. This conveyed to his subjects that he wanted to unite them together, so his territory seemed stronger.

A man named Guido d’ Arezzo began to show how to communicate the teaching of music through a process that Kamien describes. He would use his hand as a music staff and point to the places that the notes would be today in traditional sheet music. This helped him teach his students exactly what pitches he wanted them to sing.

Heller and Campbell (1982) talk about different ways musicians and listeners communicate through music. They suggest one step to this communication is through the musical cues a performer uses. This could include different lyrics, dynamics, or even different chords. They suggest these cues “must be decoded according to cultural rules known to both performer and listener”. This means listeners will interpret these cues in a way the performer is trying to get across. Take, for example, a song that has a fast beat, and happy sounding instrumentals but depressing lyrics. The listener will still understand that it is a sad song because of the lyrics.

They also suggest a listener has the job of collecting all the information from these cues and processing it in a way that makes sense to them. This could suggest why every person has different opinions or likes some music opposed to others. This could be affected by a number of factors, from deep rooted values to what mood the listener is in any given day.

Communication through music is one of the most important ways of communicating emotion. It get a point across with the help of instrumentals. Think of any song that means a great deal to you. What makes you love it? For some people, it is the lyrics, while others love the music behind the words, or the combination of the two. Different musical techniques can help communicate a spectrum of emotions. A major chord is often known as a “happy” sound while a minor chord is often known as a “sad” sound. It is amazing that as humans, our brains can process just a few notes as a happy or sad sounding chord. The mood a listener is in can also affect what music they choose to listen to. A person who is in an angry mood could gravitate to a fast-paced, dissonant sounding music with lyrics with which they feel they can identify. This practice varies through every genre and every feeling, depending on who’s listening and how they process sounds. This is an amazing feat by the human brain. Basic communications skills are found in music as well. Many songs about love or heartbreak are written about personal experience, and they are also occasionally written directly towards the subject. This shows interpersonal communication through the relationship between the writer and the human subject of the piece. Choir music often encourages strong diction and eye contact with the audience, which are also basic communication skills.

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From a young age, music has been one of the most important parts of my life. My parents would sit my brother and I down some nights, and they would pull out their CD collection to have “music education night” with us. We would listen to their favorite music and sometimes sing along. I still love and cherish many of these songs to this day. Throughout my teen years, I have dealt with depression. Music helped me get through some of the most difficult times in my life. I always felt like the music I listened to helped me put my emotions into words that I could not. The emotions my favorite bands can communicate to me help me feel less alone and better about who I am as a person. I am amazed at the ability of a single song and how it can alter your outlook. I feel it is one of the most therapeutic experiences I can describe. In conclusion, music is one of the most effective ways to communicate. It is able to get points across that can dramatically change a person’s mood for the day, or even motivate them through anything from a workout to a period of grief. Music will be around as long as humans continue to create, and it will only keep evolving with time.

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How Does Music Communicate Emotion. (2019, September 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 25, 2024, from
“How Does Music Communicate Emotion.” GradesFixer, 13 Sept. 2019,
How Does Music Communicate Emotion. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 May 2024].
How Does Music Communicate Emotion [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Sept 13 [cited 2024 May 25]. Available from:
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