Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"Background" music

Orpheus and a lyre, Greek Mythology
     All righty. Today will be more of a history lesson, per se, then an example of the topic. I want to discuss the emergence of modal music with the ancient Greeks. (If it was created in Western Civilization, (Rock, Classical, genre's we know today that aren't Indian, Asian, etc) it's modal.) At about 500BCE, a lot of music theory was being developed, and developed around arithmetic. A lot of the philosophers had started to develop Western Music Theory. What's neat, and what's neat about the development of it, is that the Greeks felt that you can change mood AND behavior by changing the mode of the scale used to compose the piece or melody. 

     There was a legend that Pythagoras was passing by a very angered man who was about to burn down a house. Then, by singing in the phrygian mode, he was able to calm the man and put him in a relaxed state, and that got me thinking about how we use music to alter moods today.

     Most people remember this video:

     The music from it is a song called Mad World, by Gary Jules, and is detrimental to the success of this video.  That music makes me sad! You see the pictures! You read the facts! It's like an ASPCA commercial or something. But it works. It's amazing, isn't it?

     Let's try an experiment. I'll give you another video right here, and I'm going to ask you to turn the volume of the Miniature Earth video down, and this volume up. Start the Miniature Earth video, and exactly 3 seconds later, start Cliffs of Dover. When the "Miniature Earth" symbol appears is about when you should hear the first note of the song. 

     Think about how you're feeling now when you're reading the facts, and looking at the pictures. When you reach different parts in the song, (To tell when you're at a different section, listen for different material), you should notice a change in mood.

(It seems that in order to do this, it's much easier to open two tabs, or windows. Sorry.)

     When you get to the final, "And do your best for a better world" in Miniature Earth, you feel a little better about yourself, not some rich snob. (Insert "I'm on the internet. I am the 3%" joke here.) I felt like I wanted to get out there and change the world, not just sit down and slump all depressed-like.

     My next challenge to you, on ads while you're watching TV or something, really listen to the music. Ask yourself how the music changes (Either enhancing or diminishing) the message being said. 

Have a musical day! :D

((Those  old and really bright colored iPod 
commercials would not be as interesting 
if  they played depressing music. ;) ))


  1. Insightful for most, but I noticed the effect music has on me at an early age since I always had some for of it around. Great post none-the-less!

  2. Didn`t know Pythagoras was such a cool guy.
    Nice post!

  3. Very true. Something I've always kind of wondered about, how a certain tone can seem "sad" to everyone who hears it, meaning not as a result of some individual association.

    Oh and I think you mean the exact opposite of "detrimental" under the first video :-P

  4. This is good music!

  5. Sounds nice, hope u have a nice day too :D

    following +1

  6. cliffs of dover is always a good song :)
    have a musical life, following you

  7. loved this post will be following daily from now on ^_^

  8. I agree. No one likes boring music. :)

  9. I knew Mad World from Donnie Darko and it's most excellent