Emotional Connection – Note/Pitch

Posted: January 27, 2011 in Composing

hello again everyone,

I hope you had a great week, and that you want to explore new ground, today I am going to explore the connection of MUSIC to our EMOTIONS.

you have to understand that this part of music is extremely big and musicians still explore this magnificent connection of music to our emotions,

every little thing can make a big difference, Notes, Length, Velocity,Volume, Timbre Combinations, Tempo, Meter, and the list is too long to continue…

so of course I will try to cover as much as I can, but I can’t cover all of it.

lets start with notes, notes alone can have an effect on our emotions, they can evoke certain emotions like Happiness, Angriness, Fear, and so on.

as Composers we can use these notes characteristics to evoke the feelings we want in our listeners, after all, music is a journey that a listener go through when he/she listens,

and if this journey have no emotions and surprises in it, it may cause our listener to be bored.

so it is our job to evoke the right feelings in a clear way.

this next technique is used very often in movies, when something scary happens or tension is in the air you can hear a violin playing only one note tremolo.

like in the soundtrack of the movie “the happening”:

* 1:35 – you can hear a low string tremolo  on one note, notice how this inject fear into this couple of seconds it is playing, and try to imagine this same part without it, it don’t sound the same.

* 4:09 – another high string tremolo and here its volume is rising, listen and feel the emotional impact on us, feel the fear it injects, amazing work, and yet so easy, only one note played by a string (tremolo).

tremolo means A tremulous effect produced by rapid repetition of a single tone or alternation of two tones.

congratulations! you now know one way to insert fear or tension in the heart of your listeners.

there are of course a lot more ways to do that, and you can learn them mostly by listening, and paying attention.

remember this article ?


this is one of the better ways you can listen to music to learn the emotional connection.


high or low notes can effect us emotionally and evoke certain feelings too.

I am talking on one note/pitch alone, because intervals between notes, rhythm, and ornamentations can have effect on feelings too,

so to understand the effect of note/pitch we have to examine it alone.

High notes will generally be associated with positive feelings like: happiness, grace, dreaminess and excitement.

Low notes will generally be associated with negative feelings like: fear, dignity, anger and sadness.

Wandering sounds usually sound sad, but can sound surprising too, so it really  depends on the musical context.

these are not rules, and may change depend on the musical context.

have you noticed that a lot of rap music have more bass to it, to draw more respect and seriousness, to make it bigger ?

have you noticed that a lot of old folk music like old country have more high notes with the violins solo, which draw more happiness to it and makes the music lighter ?

notice the emotions your music evokes next time you compose, are those feelings clear ? are they strong enough to interest your listeners ? what can you do to make it stronger and clearer ?

in the next article I am going talk about : Volume & Timbre and their emotional connection.


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