How Music Creates Emotion

Piano Lessons / music theory / How Music Creates Emotion

Welcome to, I’m Robert Estrin. Today’s subject is about how music creates emotion. There are many scientific studies about this. It’s remarkable that you can listen to a tune, a theme, a composition, a symphony, or a song, and it can make you feel something inside! How is this possible? There’s a lot to it. But today I want to talk about two fundamental principles of music that I believe are the primary mechanisms by which we feel emotion in music: repetition and development.

Repetition is such a strong aspect of being able to feel emotion in music.

Repetition helps you to comprehend what’s going on. There’s something very refreshing about returning to a familiar theme, particularly when you transition from something chaotic. That’s why a sonata-allegro form which has repeated sections of themes that develop, then return later, is a magical formula. It feels right. The same sort of formula is used in popular songs. The verse and chorus alternate back and forth. Then the bridge takes you astray. So when the verse or chorus returns, it feels so satisfying!

Development is also vital.

Developing upon a familiar theme can bring out many different emotions. For example, the beautiful theme in the Chopin G Minor Ballade. – how it is first stated, and how it comes back completely differently again and again. And because it’s a familiar theme, it has so much power. In the first repeat of the theme, it has little embellishment. But later in the Ballade, you hear the same theme in a grandiose version. It transcends into a gloriously dramatic theme. But if you hadn’t earlier heard the same theme in that delicate, poetic setting, it wouldn’t have such an impact. That’s just one example. There are limitless examples of repetition and development in music, which are the keys for being able to create emotion in music. There’s much more to it than that, but these are two elements that are intrinsic to virtually all music!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this. Thanks again for joining me! I’m Robert Estrin here at, Your Online Piano Resource.

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