Music has been a vital component in our humanity ever since man began to make mating calls or would bangs things together to form a beat. Songs have made a significant impact in our history: has made nations come together or has called them to war. But we’re not here to take a motherhood of a statement and talk about Philosophy 101, instead this a look at how music, particularly songs with lyrics, affects our creativity.
Music puts creative people in a mood, of course that mood depends on the kind of music being played. Raffy usually brings a guitar during Session 3 of our creative photography workshops, and this is more or less the exercise.
One good example of this would be the renditions of Tears for Fears’s song Mad World.
This is the original by Tears for Fears
Adam Lambert in American Idol
It’s basically the same song, but the way they’re arranged and sung elicits different emotions. Let’s look at something a bit more extreme, but illustrates this contrast rather well. Like A Virgin (Britney and Christina)
vs. Like A Virgin (from Moulin Rouge).
There is also a Glee version of this, but we don’t have to bother that for now.
The gender of the singer alters the way we perceive a song. Personally, I find the female version more tolerable, if not cute at the least. The Moulin Rouge version just gave me the creeps. Just from that reaction you could already see differences in emotions brought out by the same song but sung by a man vs. a woman. It is also important to note which gender originally sung the song. It makes for a first impression about it. Sting’s Message in a Bottle:
vs. Amanda Wood (I don’t know her, but I just had to youtube a female version of the song):
Ironic as it may sound, but at the same time it makes sense: it’s a different form of the same thing.
Age is also a factor. If we’re to take on a contemporary version, watch Glee. Most if not all of the songs there are technically remakes, but are sung by younger people. Somehow an old song gets revived when sung by a younger singer. And inversely, when we get older singers to belt out younger songs, it brings about some maturity in the rendition more often than not. Is how the singers, both young and old, look like alter the way we perceive the way the song is sung? Then maybe perhaps there is a connection between visual cues and songs?
Where are we going at here? I hope it’s established that music could bring out emotions.
Now, how does this connect to something visual? This is one of the reasons why music videos and eventually MTV was born. Emotions brought about by music is further enhanced by visual cues. At this stage, we are transposing emotions from sound to sight. And just like the missing senses exercise, it’s curious to ask, is it possible to have it in reverse? So here’s what we’re going to do:
Get a random sampling of five (5) songs cut across various genres, and they don’t have to be all of your favorites. As you listen to them, list down the emotions you somehow feel from each. After going through all of them, pick out one song. Look at each emotion you have written, and imagine a time in your life (could be recent or could be as old as years ago) when you felt the same thing. It is important to be as descriptive as you can in this part of the exercise. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? What do you feel?
Doesn’t this feel like deja vu of the missing senses? Because it is.
You are realizing a point in time, and eventually leading into the visual elements that brought you there using your senses as filters from the emotions to the words and then to the images. On a digressed note, this table might be of help as well, since it addresses level of emotions just the same way as color is. On an updated note, there was a chart based on the movie Inside Out that piqued my interest on emotions and the possible mixed feelings you might have when you combined two (2) emotions.
If… Songs > Emotions > Visual Cues, then is it safe to conclude: Songs = Visual Cues?
Is it also the reason why most of us attach songs as cues for our past memories? This particular song by Phil Collins, Do You Remember:
was such a flash bulb memory song for me. Up until now, I still live in the same neighborhood where I grew up. Back in grade school, I had this cute girl for a neighbor whom I had a crazy crush on back then. Somehow me and my awkward self eventually found its way to meet her, and we became sort of friends. Her family migrated to the US one year after, which left poor old me almost sobbing in the curb when we said our last goodbyes (but I wasn’t so sure if she did like me back then either). That same afternoon in our living room, my elder sister happened to watch MTV, and lo and behold, Do You Remember was being played. Ever since, the song always brings me back to that afternoon and curb whenever I get to hear it. It didn’t matter what the lyrics were, it just brings the moment back for that odd reason. Inversing the flow, would it be then possible to do such:
Visual Cues > Emotions > Songs?
Would there be images powerful enough to elicit emotions, and eventually attach songs to them? Your guess is just as good as the image you’d be able to make with this exercise.
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