Why You Cry

cold petals

Ever hear of the ‘appoggiatura‘? Interesting article about what makes us want to bawl our eyes out while listening to pretty, pretty songs.  I’m willing to bet Fleet Foxes know about this phenomena and purposely lace each heart-tugging mountaineer folk tune with a quota of 10 or more.

From the linked article:

Twenty years ago, the British psychologist John Sloboda conducted a simple experiment. He asked music lovers to identify passages of songs that reliably set off a physical reaction, such as tears or goose bumps. Participants identified 20 tear-triggering passages, and when Dr. Sloboda analyzed their properties, a trend emerged: 18 contained a musical device called an “appoggiatura.”

An appoggiatura is a type of ornamental note that clashes with the melody just enough to create a dissonant sound. “This generates tension in the listener,” said Martin Guhn, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia who co-wrote a 2007 study on the subject. “When the notes return to the anticipated melody, the tension resolves, and it feels good.”

As Meatloaf once famously sang, “18 out of 20 ain’t bad”.  Wonder if there were any appoggiaturae in that ditty…

About Nik

Writer, occasional photographer, common street juggler. I enjoy cooking, crafting, a clean house, animals, and senses of humour. Oh yeah and being the mom of my boy John.
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2 Comments

  1. True.
    Beautiful picture BTW.
    If you listen to the Beatles or many of the bands experimenting with this “sound” throughout the mid 60’s to mid 70’s you will find a quasi experimental production that has become somewhat of an idiosyncratic dynasty.

    • Thanks!
      Yeah the 60s/70s were much better for this sort of musical phenomena than those clunky 80s. With the exception of maybe Morrisey and The Cure.

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