Tuesday, July 14, 2009

On Music

In my article on sensory organs I had briefly mentioned that emotional, or heart-felt, responses are more easily triggered by music, than say, by a painting or a perfume.

Informally, musicians know certain sequences which hit the spot, certain modulations which in juxtaposition create a mood. In Indian Classical Music, Ragas (template compositions) are closely associated with Rasas (canonical affects, e.g. Courage, Longing, Euphoria). The word rasa is apt. It means "juice" or "essence". Is it possible to relate the musical rasas to the chemical rasas within the body?

A famous Dhrupad singer, that I had the privilege to once listen to in person, said that certain compositions when listened to in close proximity of the singer can lead to altered states of consciousness (he used the phrase "raising of the Kundalini"). I have no reason to doubt his assertion, because I have seen people get distinctly entranced, almost hypnotized, when listening to a live performance. There are certain artists for whom a singing performance is an emotionally draining experience.

I think a live performance is more atmospheric than a recorded performance. The other people in the audience amplify the "vibes" that one is feeling.

I am not an expert in human biochemistry but as far as I have ascertained, there are good reasons to believe that the various moods created by music are associated with various chemicals and hormonal secretions in the body. It is as if the aural sensation triggers a particular secretion.

Recently I had the opportunity to (again) listen to three songs which are aurally imitative of a slow secretion and of a slow but insistent plucking of a nerve. It is as if the the strings of a musical organ have their counter-parts in the heart. There is actually a phrase in the English language: "tugging at heart strings".

The three songs are:
  1. If I could be where you are (Enya, Amarantine, 2005)
  2. Tu Bin Bataye (Madhushree, Rang de Basanti Soundtrack, 2006)
  3. My Heart Will Go On (Celine Dion, Titanic Soundtrack, 1997)
Another anguished, tugging instrumental composition is The Forgotten (Part II) by the guitarist Joe Satriani (as part of his album Flying in a Blue Dream).

In these songs, pay attention to the tugging that happens at brief intervals. The tugging is most often achieved when the sound is continuous without breaks, and lifts upwards in frequency, as if a gland is being slowly pressed and a secretion achieved. I think there can be effective research on the chemical, psychic and affective appeal of music and singing. For example, why exactly is a "sad" melody sad?

To quote P B Shelley, "Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thoughts." But one need not understand the language in a song to recognize that it is a sad song.

Rock music's emotional appeal is of another kind, which is unsentimental and which gravitates more towards invigoration. An example is an old favorite, which though talking of infatuation, is an an energetic piece of music. Highly masucline music, e.g. bass guitars and metal music (cf the German heavy metal band Rammstein) I find associated with the secretion of epinephrine. Try listening to the "songs" Mutter or Reise Reise and if you are a normal-enough person, and even though the songs are in German, you will feel a surge of this chemical and will feel distinctly aggressive.

I find Western Classical Music more cerebral than emotional. But I am admittedly limited in my exposure to the various composers. I tend towards listening to contemplative melodies. The Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven is a sad melody but it is more somber than sad. The compositions Spiegel im Spiegel and Fur Alina by Arvo Part are distinctly somber and contemplative. El Greco by Vangelis carries a whole spectrum of moods but the central mood is contemplative solitude.

It is not that music can only be enjoyed affectively. I enjoy music immensely, but rarely does it provoke an affective response. I appreciate it more as an expression of human skill and creativity, of a singer's range and control, and of the virtuosity of the composer/singer to create a mood (even though I recognize the mood which is sought to be created, it does not engulf me).

109 comments:

Bowden said...

If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again! it had a dying fall:
O, it came o'er my ear like the sweet sound,
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour! Enough; no more:
'Tis not so sweet now as it was before.
O spirit of love! how quick and fresh art thou,
That, notwithstanding thy capacity
Receiveth as the sea, nought enters there,
Of what validity and pitch soe'er,
But falls into abatement and low price,
Even in a minute: so full of shapes is fancy
That it alone is high fantastical."

Twelfth Night

Ghosh said...

An inspired analysis

Satnam Denver said...

Don't like Panjabi like Bindrakhiya or Gurbani etc?

Harmanjit Singh said...

Hi Satnam

Punjabi music has only had a few singers of note, so it does not offer that much top-class variety as other languages/cultures.

I do enjoy Gurbani, e.g. sung by, Bhai Harjinder Singh.

Satnam S Denver said...

"are more easily triggered by music, than say, by a painting or a perfume."...Harman

Why it is like that? Ear is more important than eyes and nose?

Satnam Denver said...

Hi Harman!

You heard Panjabi songs by K L Saighal,(two only), Nusrat,Reshman, folk music by Mastana, Surinder Kaur? What you think? Shiv Batalvi?

Harmanjit Singh said...

I don't understand it fully (why an aural input is more emotionally potent than other kinds of input) but I think it might be because it is more primitive (in the womb, one can't see as there is utter darkness, but one can hear).

Gulrez Bazliel said...

Nice work!

ABC said...

"I enjoy music immensely, but rarely does it provoke an affective response. I appreciate it more as an expression of human skill and creativity, of a singer's range and control, and of the virtuosity of the composer/singer to create a mood (even though I recognize the mood which is sought to be created, it does not engulf me)."...Harman

Is'nt music meant to uplift you emotionally/spiritually?

Harmanjit Singh said...

ABC wrote:

Is'nt music meant to uplift you emotionally/spiritually?

It is meant to, yes.

ABC said...

I mean doesn't it work up your kundalini, whatever that is?

Harmanjit Singh said...

Metaphorically, yes, it can have that effect.

ABC said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDMdNXut8Yc

A sombre one about death--if this doesn't jiggle your kundalini, god knows what will.

ABC said...

"Is it possible to relate the musical rasas to the chemical rasas within the body?"..Harman

Does the soul have a chemical composition?

Braun Reddy said...

Beethoven's An die Freude (Ode to Joy) is really the last word in vocal pyrotechnique, which would be well appreciated by your esteemed self.

Marge, Eindhoven said...

"Ode to Joy" is adopted as the anthem for the European community, used in ads for soaps and perfumes and served as the finale in the Jipponois animation Grave of the Fireflies. Indeed a rousing music deeply embedded in th collective unconscience of homo sapiens. To call it pyrotechnics is to do less than justice to such a treasured heritage. Apologys.

Braun Reddy said...

To Marge, Eindhoven

As a German-born citizen of Indian(Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh) origin, there was no intention to demean this beloved masterpiece as a mere exhibition of technique. The sopran I have immer found quite soul piercin'. Mein apology too.

Beautiful blogpost, incidently.

Marge, Eindhoven said...

To ABC

Thanks for the Schubert link. As a lover of Schubet lieder, I had never heard Marian Anderson's renditions of same. This is a real discovery. I just heard Erlkoenig by same. WOW!!

Marge

Harmanjit Singh said...

I second Marge. Immensely appreciated the Marian Anderson song.

Do you have the English translation of the lyrics?

ABC said...

Yaar Satnam Denverwaalie

As a connoisseur of classic Panjabi folk, which you seem to be you must be, already loving this lajawaab peshkush from 1930s? All real Panjabis seem to be settled in States.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2Vih_vGiGo

ABC said...

Das Mädchen:
Vorüber! Ach, vorüber!
Geh, wilder Knochenmann!
Ich bin noch jung, geh lieber!
Und rühre mich nicht an.

Der Tod:
Gib deine Hand, du schön und zart Gebild!
Bin Freund, und komme nicht, zu strafen.
Sei gutes Muts! ich bin nicht wild,
Sollst sanft in meinen Armen schlafen!

English translation
Death and the Maiden

Death:
The Maiden:
Away, oh please, please, away!
Go, you wild man of bones!
I am still young, go beloved one!
And draw me not on.

The Maiden
Give me your hand, you beautiful and pure form!
I am a friend, and come not to punish.
Be of good cheer! I am not fierce,
Softly in my arms shall you sleep!

Note: A dialogue between a young girl and her visitor, impending death. Schubert also composed a well admired violin concerto of the same name and this-Der Tod und das Madchen- is also the title of a 1991 (circa) English film directed by Roman Polanski of Pianist fame.

Yukiko Kasahara said...

Ode to Joy and the Ninth Symphony, of which it is a part, is a craze amongst us Japanese, we have annual public open air performances of the same. Its really the world anthem for the twenty first century.

Anonymous said...

"I find Western Classical Music more cerebral than emotional."...Harman

The statement is pure hogshit!!

Marge said...

The maiden:
Past me! oh past me!
walk, fierce reaper!
I am still young, go dear!
And do not touch me!

Death:
Give me your hand, fair and tender thing!
I am your friend and do not come to punish.
Be of good cheer! I am not fierce,
you shall sleep gently in my arms!

Denver Satnam said...

Dear ABC:
I am a student of Govt College, Ropar. Denver is my tasarruf, without reason. So don't worry, Panjabiat is still there in Panjab. I am proud to be pucca pendu, but love hindi urdu and english too. I love Surinder Kaur as well as Meera bhajans by M S Subbulakshmi.
Yours
Satnam S Denver.

Vellayudhan, Hubli said...

It is heartening to hear a mention of the divine Subbulakshmi from far north in Panjab, that too an a young afficionado from the rural heartland! Kudos, Denver, there is yet hope for us all!

A wonderful blogpost and what an intelligent readership and string of responses! Keep it up ,gentlemen(and ladies)!

Vellu

Hugh said...

Yes, a brilliant and individualistic analysis of the phenomenon of musical response--a mind of laser like precision and analytic power seems to be at work---and echoed by informed responses!

Bjorn,Reykjavik said...

Interesting post!

Di said...

It is not just the good music that will tug at heartstrings, as you said. It is good music + good lyrics.
If the music was good and lyrics were good but it still may or maynot tug at heart strings.
The lyrics should mean something to you personally.
So in other words, it is good music + lyrics + nostalgia.
E.g a gurbani to a south indian may not mean anything and a suprbhatam to a punjabi, might just be some mumbo-jumbo. It doesn't demerit either streams. 27 comments.....keeps it up .... :)

Bijoy said...

Great blogpost!

ABC said...

I'm glad your kundalini jiggled!

Bunty,Cork, Eire said...

Nice blog you got there!

Harmanjit Singh said...

Dear Commentators, you might also want to read the following article on likes on dislikes (in particular, the subjective responses to a work of art):

http://harmanjit.blogspot.com/2008/08/fervor-of-ones-likes.html

Harmanjit Singh said...

Hi Di,

You are right in general. Meaningful lyrics and personal identification transform even a normal melody into an emotional experience.

However, (and I don't discount the subjective experience when music is being enjoyed), objective study of music and its effects has to focus on why certain juxtapositions of sounds create a certain mood.

I think you will agree with me that there are sad melodies and happy tunes.

What makes those tunes "sad" or "happy"? In what way do they echo our inner biochemical states?

I once played a sad Kishore Kumar song in a Green Tortoise bus filled with hippie in the US and everybody asked me what was he sad about. Of course his voice sounded "hurt", but the melody was the primary cue.

Harmanjit Singh said...

Hi Satnam

I have enjoyed a few of Surinder Kaur's songs (my favorite is Akhiyan ch Tu Vasada).

Batalvi's songs, as song by Jagjit Chitra, are priceless.

Nusrat's style is more trance-inducing and beat-driven than sentimental (except perhaps in Charkhe di Ghook and a few others), and for that matter I find Ghulam Ali's punjabi renderings to be great exercises in range and style, but I haven't been able to appreciate him much.

Reshma of course, but I have listened to only a few. Mastana has a naive innocent quality to his voice that I enjoy.

Have you listened to Madan Gopal Singh, a sufi/Punjabi singer. I recommend his soundtrack album for "Khamosh Pani". You might enjoy that.

Denver said...

Hi Harman
Charkhe di Ghook is very nicely sung by Reshman. Her best is Chirian da Chamba.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJgf6WTDEGo

I hope you can try Master Madan, Mallika Pukhraj.
Satnam

Bunty Corkia said...

I just read your earlier referred post. Fundamentalism, even of artistic kind is reprehensible. But isn't total opposition to anything, even fundamentalism, itself a variety of fundamentalism.

Harmanjit Singh said...

Hi Bunty,

Fundamentalism (passionate attachment to an idea, belief etc.) leads to enmity and divisiveness. Opposition to fundamentalism can be fundamentalist too if one hates the fundamentalists and does not see them as fellow human beings who are being very human in their silliness and and in their passionate identifications.

However, it is possible to find fundamentalism silly, unproductive and reprehensible without any passionate attachment and without any malice at all.

That is the only way (I think) that fundamentalism can be countered without the affair becoming an eye-for-an-eye downwards spiral.

Fundamentalism is not primarily about an assertion (A=A), but the passionate defense of that assertion leading to hatred of anyone who says (A=B).

Harmanjit Singh said...

ABC, Marge:

Thanks a lot for the translation.

Much obliged!

Regards
Harman

T. Wavare said...

Illuminative analysis of musical response.

Baba, Wyoming said...

Since different moods can be identified with secretion of different biochemicals, would it be possible to foresee in the not too remote future a time when a DVD, or whatever comes after it , will clearly state on its label, the spectrum of secretions it is guaranteed to generate. It does seem as though this would reduce somewhat the joy of listening to an inspired composition!

Harmanjit Singh said...

Hi Baba,

So what price freedom from our emotional selves, eh? :-)

There is something better than moods. Remember that naive blithesome carefree-ness that you had at times as a child?

"I must add that I consider no river unworthy of a second look, of a more informed look, or of a more examined look. The above video's naughtiness and delight did not diminish for me because of my knowledge and awareness of the cuteness triggers. There is something else which happens (or rather, eventuates) as we grow up, in addition to our accumulation of knowledge, which is responsible for our jadedness, and which makes us bored, depressed and alienated.

Knowledge is not the curse which prevents innocence, as the Bible claims. Ignorance coexists with a blithesome naivete in a child, but to assume one causes the other is unjustified."

http://harmanjit.blogspot.com/2009/04/on-cuteness.html

and

http://actualfreedom.com.au/sundry/frequentquestions/FAQ56.htm

Mick, Pasadena said...

So we reduce the Mona Lisa and Michaelangelo's Creation to a chemical formula, losing a forest and gaining a tree?

Di said...

Agree with you that there are happy and sad tunes that defy language boundaries and touch our biochemistry. However not knowing what kishore kumar is singing and not knowing the meaning, it is not going to make the American's cry or have any kind of cathartic, soul stirring experience. So unless the mind-intellect is involved, unless we "know" what it is that the persona is singing, we would never have the level of emotional response.....so I feel. Good work Harman....KEEP IT UP!!!

Di said...

LOL to baba's comment....

BTW I made a list of all the good song/tracks from this blog and am going to listen to it....it is just like getting a good book/must read list from friends!

Hank, Honolulu said...

Di
Ofcourse knowing the meaning will add to one's understading/appreciation of a Kishore melody(your favourite, I hazard) but you dont need to the sngs chemical formula, do you now?

Anonymous said...

To reduce human existence to glandular activity is the mechanistic approach--the universe is a giant machine and even our most sublime experiences of subjectivity are explanable in terms of forces of attraction and repulsion between material particles--essentially deterministic with the margin of quantum mechanics. The soul is nothing more than an interplay of glandular activities. Wow, I,m a Big Gland and so are You, good sir! Congratulations!

Chan said...

To Anonymous
Everything can be explained by science in principle when it advances enough. Our body is made up of molecule. Even our thoughts and feelings are due to molecles. One day science can control everything. Our brains is computer circuit. Chinese dont believe of god, thats why we progress much. Thank you. Good article.

Munish said...

Mind blowin'.

Monster Gland said...

LOL. This blogpost coulda been called "On Secretions".

Anonymous said...

We need to put some poetry and music into life rather than take it out by messing it up as secretions.

Dolma said...

Are you Buddhist?

Brar,Quebec said...

Nice post and comments. I enjoyed the links interspersed particularly the voice of Rangila Jat, bringing to life a bygone era with his immortal refrain of Bhande Kali Kara Lo--it made me and my wife choke(or shall I say it had our glands working double time!).
Great essay, great comments.

Nikita said...

According to you we should not say she was crying but rather her tear glands started secreting 0.2 ml/sec.

Anonymous said...

Here,s a glorious selection of Panjabi music spanning nearly a century.
http://ww.smashits.com/music/bhangra/play/songs/4700/50-GLORIOUS-YEARS-OF-PUNJABI-MUSIC-1/41064/Das-Main-Ki-Pyar-Wichon.html

Anonymous said...

The greatest resource on the web for the culture, music and poetry from the Five Rivers(a monumental labour of love by emigres)

http://apnaorg.com/

Harmanjit Singh said...

I found an excellent rendering of the Ode to Joy. It's in deep bass in the beginning, and becomes progressively euphoric.

Those interested can listen to it at:

http://indiasharing.com/040%20-%20ludwig%20van%20beethoven%20-%20ode%20an%20die%20freude.mp3

Liz said...

How many metric tonnes of glandular output would you estimate could be directly attributed to the late maestro of pop, the one 'n' only Michael Jackson?

ABC said...

Do yoy think when science is sufficiently advanced and musical secretions identified more or less then instead of listening to the Ode to Joy or Bhande Kali, one could just swallow a pill from a bottle--that would also obviate the need for players.

Harmanjit Singh said...

ABC, isn't that already happening to many of us? Drugs, narcotics, MDMA, dopamine enhancers, serotonin inhibitors, hallucinogens, entheogens, ...

Music is only effective (as a high) for someone who hasn't got a direct access to a chemical high.

It can be considered a more "moral" or sublime high, though. :-) But then, some sects/cultures even consider music as evil.

Anonymous said...

Even the so called kundalini could be a glandular secretion, and instead of saying someone dies we could say he stopped secreting!

Anonymous said...

A diffeent version of ode to joy

http://videos.desishock.net/index.php?module=item&action=show_item_full&itemurl=aHR0cDovL3lvdXR1YmUuY29tLz92PXN2R2pvWGZDZnhV

Nair, Malawi said...

A remarkably cerebral approach to music.

Harmanjit Singh said...

Hi all, this blogpost is not the place to debate the validity of the concept of kundalini.

For that, may I refer you to either a mailing list ( http://groups.yahoo.com/group/actualfreedom )

or you can comment on the following blog posts:

http://harmanjit.blogspot.com/2008/11/religion-and-spirituality.html

http://harmanjit.blogspot.com/2009/01/spirituality-narcissism-and-democracy.html

http://harmanjit.blogspot.com/2009/03/two-excerpts.html

Harmanjit Singh said...

For those interested:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_psychology

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_cognition

Harmanjit Singh said...

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=music-and-the-brain

http://prod.informaworld.com/smpp/title~db=all~content=g911586331

dumbojet said...

The format of templates and canonical effects is also characteistic of jazz, allowing for almost limitless improvisation within the prescribed boundary. This also accords with the proposition that specific ragas can be associated with corresponding biochemical rasas.

Brostoli said...

Yes, music is more affective in a shared social setting, where ones peers aptly serve to amplify the response or maybe set up a biochemical resonance in which identical secretions,read responses, are set up in distict locations.

Ronso T. said...

Our Prof. Morohasa Tanikawa from Yokohama has been working for quite time on neurochenistry of mubic.

Anonymous said...

I agree that classical ragas can awaken kjndalini.

Harmanjit Singh said...

Seems like a very well-researched paper on the neural underpinnings of music:

http://www.psych.mcgill.ca/labs/levitin/research/Menon&Levitin_2005.pdf

Happy reading!

Candy said...

Wow! That's quite a Stanford paper you pointed out--rewards and connectivity to the mesolimbic system! Don't tell us you read all that unless you are a medical professional working on the cutting edge--happy reading is appropriate!

Derro, Milan said...

I think it is more to do with temporary bypassing of synaptic linkages(well documented in a Heidelberg study) than the mesolimbic system.

proca wildstrom said...

You are talkin' thru your hat ,Derro---the Stanford research renders that German stuff as extinct as the pterodactyls ! You need to check out the bibliographics, I'm sorry, and update.

Chatterjee said...

To Derro

The Stanford study is in the soundest of scientific methodology and tradition and one would be hard put its impeccable credentials. I would call it a model of rigour.

Harmanjit Singh said...

Proca rightly points at the paper's bibliography. It is very extensive, and covers a lot of research on the response to music, including the comparatively informal Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy.

Obblia T. said...

Yeah--mesolimbic it is, buddy! Stanford ain't Stanford for nothin'!

Rumban Singh, Garhshankar said...

Nietzche and his protege, Wagner would have found more illustriousness but for their regrettable association with nazism.

Anonymous said...

“Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought.”

Hari Om Tyagi said...

" Without music life would be a mistake."...Friedrich

Klaus Deni, Berne said...

Your article effectively de-mystifies musik and places it within the rationalistic frame, which is the only solid ground humankind posesses.

Heinz said...

Ein meisterstuck von Subbulakshmi

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHgiv0-H224

Oustis said...

An interesting obserevation on the pleasure/reward pathways of the mesolimbic system.
" However, not all rewards or pleasurable things cause the reward system to be activated which suggests that the mesolimbic system may not just be a system that works merely off things you like (hedonia). Learning on the other hand deals with predictions of future rewards and associative learning. Studies have shown that rats that have a destroyed ventral tegmental area and nucleus accumbens do not lose their learning abilities but rather lack the motivation to work hard for a reward. Incentive salience (wanting) stands out as a possible role of dopamine because it looks at dopamine as being released when there is stimuli worth working hard for, thus making an individual work harder to get it. In self-administration studies, animals have been trained to give an operant response (lever press, nose poke, wheel turn, etc.) in order to obtain either a drug or mate. It has been shown that the animals will continue to do the task until the reward is received or fatigue sets in."

Jasleen said...

When we do bhajan kirtan jagrata etc do you the god will be listening to all and providing derirable/suitable reply.

Candy said...

Wow again!That's quite a paper you dug out! If you the comcluding parts they anticipate the use of music as a diagnostic tool in psychiatric disorders like bipolar, depression and even schizophrenia. Thanks for the queu!

ABC said...

Here is Schubertlied "An die Musik" (On Music) with original words and English translation

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OGz2IAAysQ

Original German
Du holde Kunst, in wieviel grauen Stunden,
Wo mich des Lebens wilder Kreis umstrickt,
Hast du mein Herz zu warmer Lieb' entzunden,
Hast mich in eine beßre Welt entrückt!

Oft hat ein Seufzer, deiner Harf' entflossen,
Ein süßer, heiliger Akkord von dir
Den Himmel beßrer Zeiten mir erschlossen,
Du holde Kunst, ich danke dir dafür!

English Translation
Oh gracious Art, in how many grey hours,
When life's fierce orbit ensnared me,
Have you kindled my heart to warm love,
Transfigured me into a better world!

How often has a sigh escaping from your harp,
A sweet, a sacred harmony of yours
Thrown open the heaven of better times,
Oh gracious Art, for that I thank you!

ABC said...

Mallika Pukhraj at her restrained and intellectual best
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u39MZqkcuQo

ABC said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMaVQ7l5GFs
A folk song by Pukhraj

Derro, Milan said...

Derro to Proca:
With due regard to Stanford as one of the world's smaller yet best centres of learning I take umbrage to your allusion as "German stuff".

Heidelberg Univ, 700 years old, has yielded nobel laureates by the dozen, apart from the likes of Hegel, Jaspers, Kirchoff, Rizal, Mendeleef, Maugham, to name but a sample. Also Iqbal, poet laureate of Pakistan. So please not say German stuff. We are proud Europeans, the New Old World.

proca wildstrom said...

Proca an Dero:

Sorry, Sir, I had no intention to asperse the illustrious past of Heidelberg, a sacred temple of the human spirit. I was referring to the specific node of neurological research, which ,as I am certain you will agree knows no boundaries of time and geography, and holds no cows sacred(further apologies to the Indian blog-holder).
My regards and best wishes.

Adriano said...

"The words of Mercury are harsh after the songs of
Apollo. You that way: we this way."...Love's Labour Lost

Anonymous said...

When Titanic was sinking, the band was playing(all member's of the orchestra sank). What was the idea of playing music at that time and what biochemicals might have secreted in the listeners as well as the players? When marching to battle, music is customary--it must be generating aggression chemicals. Army/police always have bands. Even national anthems must be generating biochemicals to stimulate patriotism. As you explain, everything can be explained by chemistry.

Jack Sidhu said...

If music produces juices then by inventing same then music produces with injection---so we can have musical injections!

Hollan said...

Looking forward yours short story soon.

Juicy said...

What a "juicy" blogpost and so many "juicy" comments! Have a "juicy" day!

Simran said...

Your hypothesis has something in common with traditional concept of mythological super-fluids like amrit, somras, elixir, nectar--all these compounds of wondrous power are in liquid rather than solid or powder form perhaps indicating a kind of instinctive awareness of biofluids--after all the animal body is the most complex and incredible pharmaceutical complex known to us. A most insight filled essay,Sir.

Miki, Tokyo said...

The primacy of sound over sight and smell is well recognised since olden days. How Beethoven suffered due to impending deafness is well described in his Heiligenstadt Testament, wherein he disclosed his suicidal broodings, and his heroic overcoming of the same expressed in the Eroica(heroic) symphony, also expressive of his admiration of Bonaparte.

All Buddhist sutras begin with the words "Thus I heard" indicating the transcribers passionate commitment to adhere to the letter and spirit of what is "heard". Heard indicates not merely the physical act of listening but the disciples total faith, conviction and commitment. Also it is written "Voice does the Buddha's work", testifying the importance of the aural mode in human life. Regards and thanks for interesting post.

Buhypell said...

Everyone is different, at the same time everyone is the same at some basic level. It is this identificatedness along with the limitless individuation which constitutes the wonder of human existence both as a single unit as well as a component of the system termed "humankind".

Your response to music-on the cerebral side as you said-is yours and yours alone.

Preeto said...

Can we consider Bhangra Giddha also as a raag because they seem to be in a particular pattern.

Harmanjit Singh said...

Hi Preeto,

I am not an expert on music, but not every form of music is differentiated as a different raga.

Raga is more of a template composition to arouse a certain mood.

Bhangra/Giddha is dance-oriented communal music (with little melody and more of beats) with generally socio-cultural/family/satirical lyrics, rather than individual sentiments. The primary mood seems to be that of invigoration.

Dednesho said...

Yes, as it is emerging from this marvellous debate it is the auditory-vocal system, along with man's unique capacity for language(Chomsky has gone deep into it) which defines man as man(woman too, ofcourse) and as a member of a larger whole capable of marvellous amplification and resonance(felicity/harmlessness) at the same time savage dissonance and destructive potential. The question of choice and free will emerges.

Di said...

why is it that some blog garner 100 comments and other don't even one. How is it that some pull on heart strings and other don't?
Maybe you can do analysis on it or point to your past blog for it

:)

Varun said...

Q. Why is a sad melody sad?

A. Resonance.

FYI, very few melodies have been written/composed with all major notes (shudhh swar). The presence of a minor note (komal swar) changes the feel of a tune immediately.

Example of this in Hindustani Classical Music are the Raags Bhoopali and Shivranjini. They differ by half a note.

Example of a sad composition in a major scale - Second movement of one of Mozart's symphonies in the later years (his father had died). I forgot which one was it.

Capsinu said...

Di:
It's the quality more than the quantity which matter. Thankyou.

Harmanjit Singh said...

Varun,

Care to elaborate about "Resonance" and how it makes for a certain mood?

Di said...

Capsinu, there is no such thing as quality blog comment.

AS a blogger, I would be happy that several dozen people read my blog and cared to comment. I wouldn't judge, as good quality, bad quality.

Yes, there are some vicious individuals who make malicious comments on purpose.
And there are others who speak their mind and give critical evaluation, which as a writer, I may not necessarily like.

It is like a movie actor saying that there is good audience and a bad audience.....bah....as a film producer/director/actor, all I care is there is a (paying) audience.

So for a blogger/writer, I would feel very happy with 100 comments/debates. I wouldn't necessarily criticize my readership by categorizing them under "good" quality and "bad" quality, comment!

Cheers!

Capsinu said...

Di
I agree U 99.9%.

Varun said...

Mood, as per my understanding of your explanation, is a neuro-chemical response of the physiological body to an external stimulus which then affects the routine functioning of the body and thereby, causing a digression i.e. change of 'mood'

What if the neural pathways, like every other object, have a natural frequency, which gets simulated when ever that particular harmonics is struck.

If you have any way to emit frequencies in a controlled manner, say, through a wind instrument, you can try this at home in the kitchen.

At some notes, some particular utensils will resonate. Scaling down to the cellular level, the fundamental frequency of a harmonic series comes into play.

I recently read a paper by two Russian experimentalist scientists in which they proposed a physiological model for the Kundalini and its arousal. Very interesting. :-)

But unlike your post, I have taken the liberty to cross the line from fact to hypothesis and hence, the disclaimer that these are just my views on the subject.

Harmanjit Singh said...

Hi Varun,

I don't think there is a natural harmonic in the body/brain which can find a resonance outside.

I think what is probable is that a particular piece of music evokes a feeling by echoing how a human would voice that particular mood. We identify with the music and then the mood is created within as well.

This is not to say that the mood is not related to a secretion, just that the mechanism of its triggering needs further research.