We are all aware that music and “atmosphere” go together. We might put on relaxing music for a quiet romantic dinner, but listen to something livelier while doing some physical work or exercise or when out socializing in larger groups. You might have heard of farmers who increase production by playing music to their animals. Recent studies showing that listening to fast music while driving increases the rate of car accidents and the Mozart Effect claims to increase intelligence. While some claims may be exaggerated, there is no denying that music can be suggestive and affect our state of mind. But the reason for this is very mysterious. Why should organized sounds affect us to such an extent that billions are spent annually making music? The main aspects of music which influence us can be summed up as:
Tempo & Rhythm
Pitch Melody and Harmony
Tempo and Rhythm and its combination has an immediate physical impact on our perceptions. The rhythm of an object suggests more or less frequent movement to qualify the repetitive nature of the underlying beat, even though the tempo of a piece of music might be slow and relaxed. A high frequency of notes can suggest a degree of contained excitement within that relaxed state. Music tends to have a steady tempo to it, often measured in beats per minute. Most of the music based on simple observation is in the range of 50-200 beats per minute, the same as the extreme range of our heartbeats. The music tempo of the piece of music roughly equates with the heartbeat associated with the corresponding state or emotions.
Ranging from 60-80 beats per minute is calm and relaxed, less than 60 often very relaxed, introspective or even depressed. 80-100 is moderately alert and interested otherwise 100 upward are increasingly lively excited or agitated. 80-120 is a common tempo, since we crave some degree of excitement from our entertainment. Since the heartbeat and the music tempo have a strong degree of suggestion, 120-160 is common in some energetic situations. Music suggests movement as it moves in time; and unconsciously we keep associating ourselves with the music while talking, walking, running, dancing, riding etc.
Pitch, Melody & Harmony
Pitch on its own affects our perception. It depends on how we perceived sounds and music providing a basic scale from” high= light, happy, carefree” to” low = dark, sad, ominous.” We must find a large thing more threatening than a smaller one as part of our evolutionary heritage. In general bigger objects make deeper noises whether long column of air or long strings in a musical instrument, big chest, large animal footsteps, or large objects banging together. Conversely smaller instruments, short columns of air, short strings, small animals or objects make higher pitch noises. A Melody can be preferred if sounds are reasonably close together with a variety of nice harmonious intervals between them and a rhythm is similar to that of speech. A good melody (even if it doesn’t have words) is often one that we could hum, sing or whistle. Generally melody consists of a linear sequence of tones. The notes should have durations which are not too short and not too long, and should not be in an extreme range or shouldn’t have large awkward jumps between them. Although instrumental musical can stretch those boundaries a little, melodies in its way are very similar to sentences that our brains are designed to speak and listen to.
A good melody ( even if it doesn’t have words ) often is one that we could hum, sing or whistle. Even if they are reasonably close together with a variety of nice harmonious intervals between them, rhythms similar to that of speech can be preferred as a melodies. Generally a melody consists of a linear sequence of tones. The notes should have durations which are not too short and not too long, and should not be in an extreme range or shouldn’t have large awkward jumps between them. Although instrumental musical can stretch those boundaries a little, melodies are very similar to sentences that our brains are designed to speak and listen to.
Harmony is that when we combine tones with different pitches, even some that that seem to be close to the combination of notes is completely the natural set of different notes produced by something vibrating and easily demonstrated musically brass instruments. Those natural (without keys) instruments such as bugle, octaves, fifths and thirds produced are a series of notes. These notes are well placed together to make harmonious sounds like major chords. String instruments can be demonstrate the lowest notes of the harmonic series by playing the strongest harmonics of the strings which divide the length into fractions like halves, thirds, quarters, fifths, etc. These harmonics always present to varying degrees within all notes, and their proportions help to give sounds their unique color or tone.