Next up in the terminology series is one of my favorite words in the musical dictionary. Understanding the way musicians use the word “feel” is a SUPER important aspect to being a successful instrumentalist, because the whole art form arguably hangs on this issue.
I’ll start by positioning the discussion around emotions, and the way the broader culture uses the word “feelings.” When I watch a sad movie, I “feel” sad. When I go on vacation, I “feel” relaxed. When someone upsets me with a hurtful word or act, my “feelings” get hurt. The mental pictures/experiences that come to mind when one thinks about the examples I just referenced are why I LOVE the way the word “feel” is used in the music world.
My thesis is this: I believe music exists primarily in the realm of feel and feelings. Rage Against the Machine vs Moby, Joss Stone vs The Beatles, Common vs Vince Guaraldi… if you’re familiar with these artists then these comparisons all display a sharp contrast in how the music makes you feel.
In fact, I’m deciding right now to cut this post short and finish it up tomorrow in order to give you some homework for today. To make sure we are all on the same page on the way I’m associating sad/happy/angry/calm feelings with music, I’m going to continue with the comparisons. I want you to:
1. Listen to this and think about how it makes you feel, both physically and emotionally. Also think about which points in the experience made you feel it most and least.
2. Listen to this and reflect on it in the same way. In fact, you might want to not even watch the video on this one, so you aren’t influenced by the visual, though that is an important part of being a performer. For now I’m just wanting you to identify feelings that purely music evokes.
4. Lastly, see what kind of feelings hit you while listening to this.
…and then check back tomorrow for the rest of the post…