Music & Emotion


Yiruma is a pianist (my favorite pianist ever!) and composer from South Korea who uses the beautiful simplicity of a single instrument to open a world of emotion.

When I listen to his music, it gets me thinking about how the melodies of an instrument can make me feel one of sad, happy, relaxed or nostalgic and sometimes all of them at once. This is especially interesting when the music in question is an instrumental solo. I understand how songs with vocalists can cause emotion by utilizing words to create relatable lyrics. But with no lyrics, how does this happen?!

I don’t know how this happens, and I can’t really find a definitive answer to that, but I did do some research on what emotion each component of a musical piece stimulates and I found it very interesting:

Tempo: The speed or pace of a musical piece.
Associated Emotions: Fast tempo: happiness, excitement, anger. Slow tempo: sadness, serenity.

Mode: The type of scale.
Associated Emotions: Major tonality: happiness, joy. Minor tonality: sadness.

Loudness: The physical strength and amplitude of a sound.
Associated Emotions: Intensity, power, or anger.

Melody: The linear succession of musical tones that the listener perceives as a single entity.
Associated Emotions: Complementing harmonies: happiness, relaxation, serenity. Clashing harmonies: excitement, anger, unpleasantness.

Rhythm: The regularly recurring pattern or beat of a song.
Associated Emotions: Smooth/consistent rhythm: happiness, peace. Rough/irregular rhythm: amusement, uneasiness. Varied rhythm: joy.
(Source: Wikipedia Music And Emotion)

My favorite songs from Yiruma that inspired this post:

River Flows in You:




Do any of these songs cause a mixture of emotions for you as well?




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