Music: 03 The Power To Create Emotion With Time

Adventures in Music

What the heck does opera have to do with cartoons? you ask… Well, more than you might think! Opera is an all embracing artform, incorporating live theater, singing, orchestral music, and dance all into one package. Cartoons are like that too… a great big ball of drawing, music, comedy and interesting characters that creates its own world. The stories in operas are generally soap opera potboilers- incestuous love affairs, treachery, deathbed revelations, and even hunchbacks dragging around their murdered daughter in a sack! Cartoon stories are generally pretty simplistic too… the plot of the story isn’t nearly as important as the visual artistry that goes into telling it.

Maria Callas sings “O mio babbino caro” by Puccini

One of the things I admire in classical music is the way great conductors create magic by varying their tempi through accelerando and retardando (that’s speeding up and slowing down for us non-musicians). Minute adjustments in just the right places (aka rubato) can make the music broaden out or seem hurried, or languid… it’s the power to create emotion in time. Animators do exactly the same thing when they do “slow ins and outs”, “staggers” and “hitting accents”. Just a fraction of a second’s difference can make the heart swell.

The world of opera is huge and varied. It’s hard for me to boil down a recommendation. The best introduction on DVD (Zefferelli’s La Traviata) is out of print. But I encourage you to attend live performances, listen to the Met’s live HD simulcasts, add some operas to your Netflix cue, and perhaps pick up the DVD this clip comes from, Great Recordings of the Century.

Stephen Worth
Animation Resources

Adventures in MusicAdventures in Music

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit entitled Adventures in Music.

One Response to “Music: 03 The Power To Create Emotion With Time”

  1. Music and Emotions

    The most difficult problem in answering the question of how music creates emotions is likely to be the fact that assignments of musical elements and emotions can never be defined clearly. The solution of this problem is the Theory of Musical Equilibration. It says that music can’t convey any emotion at all, but merely volitional processes, with which the music listener identifies. Then in the process of identifying the volitional processes are colored with emotions. The same happens when we watch an exciting film and identify with the volitional processes of our favorite figures. Here, too, just the process of identification generates emotions.

    Because this detour of emotions via volitional processes was not detected, also all music psychological and neurological experiments, to answer the question of the origin of the emotions in the music, failed.

    But how music can convey volitional processes? These volitional processes have something to do with the phenomena which early music theorists called “lead”, “leading tone” or “striving effects”. If we reverse this musical phenomena in imagination into its opposite (not the sound wants to change – but the listener identifies with a will not to change the sound) we have found the contents of will, the music listener identifies with. In practice, everything becomes a bit more complicated, so that even more sophisticated volitional processes can be represented musically.

    Further information is available via the free download of the e-book “Music and Emotion – the Research on Musical Equilibration:

    Enjoy reading

    Bernd Willimek

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