It moves us.
A good song can get up pumped, make us feel happy…
Or, the best of songs?
Can move us to tears.
[via Daily Mail] Does Adele’s music move you to tears? Scientists identify the bits in songs that make you cry
Nevertheless it’s Someone Like You that has pushed Adele to iconic status, thanks mainly to its power to reduce audiences to tears.
But what can explain the emotive effect of the south London girl’s tear-jerking power ballad? Psychologists believe they have the answer.
Researchers have long known that certain features of music are consistently able to elicit strong emotional responses from listeners.
The British psychologist John Sloboda identified some of these in a simple experiment conducted 20 years ago. He got music lovers to point out parts of songs which reliably gave them goose bumps or brought tears to their eyes.
Twenty tear-jerking passages were identified, and when Dr Sloboda analysed them he found 18 contained a musical device called an appoggiatura, a note which clashes with the melody just enough to create a dissonance.
‘This generates tension in the listener,’ Martin Guhn, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia told the Wall Street Journal. ‘When the notes return to the anticipated melody, the tension resolves, and it feels good.’
It’s at these moments of resolution that chills descend on listeners. When several occur next to each other it creates a cycle of tension and release, provoking an even stronger reaction.
That’s when the tears start to flow. Someone Like You is, it turns out, peppered with ornamental notes similar to appoggiaturas.
Dr Guhn points out that Adele also slightly modulates her pitch at the end of long notes just before the accompaniment goes to a new harmony, further winding the spring. [Read More]
And not just us, who feel the winding of the spring, apparently.
For some really special songs?
Inspire our canine companions to tears, as well.
This little guy needs a hug…
Okay, okay – I’ll do it.