The Emotions of Music

By Ryan Cole

The Emotions of Music


John Williams' Summon the Heroes was written for the 1996 Olympic games to introduce the heroes of the games. The initial trumpet fanfare with a very powerful melody with a consistent tempo and volume begins developing this feeling. Later as the background parts and variations are introduced, the piece still maintains a driving force in tempo and dynamic and always returns to the trumpet fanfare. The varying rhythms throughout the piece also contribute to the triumphant theme of the music.


Mars the Bringer of War was written by Gustav Holst as an embodiment of the Roman god Mars and his warlike nature. The climax of the piece features a very powerful brass line playing a recurring theme that was introduced at the beginning of the piece. The rapid tempo and powerful nature of the selection demonstrates the anger and conflict that is present. The dissonance of the cordial structure throughout much of the piece compliments the feeling of anger, while adding tension through the clashing tones.


Jupiter the Bringer of Jollity was written by Holst to resemble the nature of the Roman god Jupiter. This selection is very light in comparison to Mars, and that is base of what sets up the music to show happiness. The piece maintains an upbeat tempo while still feeling relaxed. There is a very pleasant nature to the piece because of how the musicians play, with a relaxed tone, and few or no sudden changes in style or dynamics.


Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral, composed by Richard Wagner, was performed by Phantom Regiment in their 2011 show entitled Juliet. The very consistent, laid back tempo through the selection used in the video sets the foundation for the emotion. The intensity of the instrumentals in the section used are designed to mimic the intensity of Juliet's love for Romeo, while being supported by the underlying structure of the rest of music. The connected nature of the notes and rhythms through this section make the difference between a powerful, and emotional selection, and a light empty piece.


The selection for anger was taken from a marching show entitled Requies, which was written to give a musical meaning to the five emotions anger, sadness, fear, denial, and hope. The presentation of anger and conflict through the two pieces is very similar but there are several defining elements of anger. Anger as shown in Requies is very crisp and defined with a less connected style and more consistent rhythmic structure.


The selection for fear was also taken from Requies. The inconsistency of the musical elements of the section demonstrate the inconsistency of fear. Rapid entrances and changes in dynamics compliment the emotion along with the dissonance and clashing pitches. The driving tempo and percussion parts drive the section forward despite the fact that full musical phrases aren't completed, making the piece very uncomfortable for the listener.