Emotions from wordless songs

Before I get started on this post, the inspiration for this post was “Cristofori’s Dream”, a piano solo by David Lanz.  I have included a link to this song here, so that you can follow along with my thoughts.

Though this is not my “favorite” song, I find it interesting that the “Blog Exercises” series (sequence? Sorry, my math side showing :p) that Lorelle VanFossen has written this year made this post more salient for me, as it was the prompt on September 11, 2013.  The readers may remember another post of mine with a reaction to the song: “The Pinnacle.

When I listen to songs on Pandora, oftentimes I will comment and/or read the comments.  My comment was, “The beginning of the song reminds me of the Moonlight Sonata, but the song quickly gets its own quality.”  However, that was on the first time hearing the song, and since then, other people have commented.  There is an interesting dichotomy of comments, and neither is necessarily wrong.  When a song contains no lyrics, the listener has many methods of interpreting the notes.

The name of this song is no coincidence.  Bartolomeo Cristofori is referred to as the inventor of the piano.  So, perhaps David Lanz used his imagination to play this song in the sense of a soundtrack to Cristofori’s dreams.  After all, instrumental music is commonly used in movies in the background when there is no talking, and sometimes even when there is!

There are plenty of positive emotions about this song in the comments of Pandora.  Some of these include phrases like, “it makes me happy,” “good for studying,” “beautiful,” “calming,” etcetera.

More emotions, not all of which would be construed as positive, are evident in the Pandora comments.  The one that was somewhat salient to me was a response, from “darkprince117″:

Happy? It brought me some intense sorrow. Something along the lines of a child understanding death, and the incredibly painful process of losing a dear grandfather, and of his passing with his hands in hers. A child thinking he is asleep, and trying to wake him, trying again and again until she realizes he will never awake.

Other comments echo this in other ways, how it evokes tears, but not necessarily through the same metaphor as “darkprince117″.  They can bring back memories, the beauty of the song might produce tears, or it may have some spiritual aspect, according to some of these comments.  Other key words in this sense were hope, peace, haunting, powerful, and a strange singularity in a commenter that said, “creepy.”

I listened to the song, and look at different sections of the song to see where the commenters may be getting at.  Now, I might just be throwing my own opinions on it, but that is the beauty of instrumental music.

The song begins with a series of notes which strongly resemble Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.”  This was what drew me into the song, the first time that I had heard it.  The addition of the strings made it an angelic quality to me.

From about 0:20 until 2:20 in the song (thank goodness for the timer on the YouTube interface!), a theme seems to repeat three times, with slightly different arpeggios within, and it seems to intensify each time.  Naturally, the repetition is salient to me since Yom Kippur is coming soon, where Kol Nidrei is repeated thrice.  As for this song, the light-hearted minor tone tells me of childhood innocence that appears in some of my dreams.  It is a happy, or maybe even ethereal experience for me.

From the 2:20 mark until 3:00, the song grows stronger, and in the sense of a dream, this is the awakening part.  It gave me goosebumps when I heard it, as if the idealism of a dream is gone and replaced with the realism.  Then, in the next minute, the tune returns to the dream state, and feels stronger than the first one.  It’s the recurrence of dreams, and there is determination to make the dream come true.

The part between 4 minutes and 4:40, to me, has a waltz-like quality.  It almost feels unrelated to the rest of the emotion that I had in the song.  Of course, despite having become more aware of my emotions in the last few years, it is still difficult for me to discern how certain stimuli actually make me feel.  I was smiling through this part, as if the dream were meeting a special someone who understood me.  If only in the dream…

The remainder of the song goes back to the sonata and dream, and gave me more goosebumps.  It was an accumulation of the previous dreams, and at the end, that single note that finishes the song has an aura of finality to me, as if the dream will not come back, but that it implores the chasing of it.

….

This is just my take on it.  After doing a quick Google search, I also found Lanz’s take on the song.  Yet another way that we can see: two people will hear the same combination of instruments differently!

Of course, everyone may hear the song differently.  What do you think about it?  Please let me know in the comments!

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One thought on “Emotions from wordless songs

  1. David Lanz! I knew him before he was famous. He used to play at the piano bar in the restaurant next to my office in Seattle. Wonderful choice, and very personal for me, too.

    Yom Kippur is a tough time of year for us, too, with memories spent in Israel during tough times, so thank you for bringing that into your vision of the song as it connects so much with me as well.

    What a beautiful description. Perfect timing. Thank you!

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