Emotional Connection – Volume/Velocity/Loudness & Timbre/Color

Posted: January 28, 2011 in Composing

I will refer to Volume/Velocity/Loudness as Loudness.

so as we saw in the last article :


how high or how low a note is, can have an effect on our emotions.

Loudness & Timbre can do that too, and combine with note/pitch the message can be clearer for our listeners,

but be aware that sometimes being too obvious and clear, can ruin the game of guessing for your listeners,

sometimes being mysterious can be better and add another dimension, it all depends on where you want to take your listeners,

watch lord of the rings for example and listen to the music, it tells the story only with sounds and voices…

I know those are amazing musicians singers and composers,

but they are only human like everyone else, all they did to reach that level is : listening, paying attention, learning, and enjoying it, so there is no reason in the world you can’t reach those levels if you be consistent, and spend more time trying to be a professional.

back to loudness,

if we are listening only to the loudness of a sound we may notice the following :

soft or quiet sounds – sadness, melancholy, but also gentleness, and pleasantness.

moderate – happiness, tenderness.

loud – joy, excitement, happiness,triumph.

distortion levels – anger.

quick changes between soft and loud – fear.

listen to the professional use of loudness in Hans Zimmer – Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack.

next is timbre/color,

in timbre here I mean tone, it can be a tone with a lot of bass frequencies or a tone with a lot of treble frequencies or even middle frequencies.

each instrument have its own tone (timbre/color) to it, and have a great impact on our emotions.

the tone of a flute (and similar sounds) – pleasantness, peace, and boredom.

over-drive/ditortion guitars – power, anger, and fear.

bright tones, fairly fast sounds – mostly positive emotions.

dull tone, fairly slow sounds – mostly negative emotions.

big drums sounds, like Taiko for example – anger.

lets hear this next example and see how the tones effects us :

in the beginning there is a bassy tone that tells us “dangerous” and the rhythm is getting faster which makes this danger coming closer and closer!!!

extremely beautiful simplicity, that makes emotions so clear in this soundtrack.

one thing you have to remember is that music ingredients are relative to each other, in other words:

in order for something to sound strong, we have to put weak sounds to contrast it, in order to make one sound louder we have to contrast it with softer sound,

in order for a sound to be close to us, we have to contrast it with a sound that feels far away from us, almost everything is relative in music.


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