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The emotional impact of chord progressions Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 1 week ago
  #1
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The emotional impact of chord progressions

I have always been fascinated by how music can make me feel and lately have been spending alot of time trying many variations of chord progressions to achieve the feel for the music that I desire.

Does anybody else love to "play with the audience's emotions" and bring them up or down? I like mixing up the feel even in one song. Happy verse, sad chorus or vice versa.
Old 1 week ago
  #2
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This question seems almost tautological: If you're not playing with the audience's emotions when you're composing music, what could you possibly be doing?
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
This question seems almost tautological: If you're not playing with the audience's emotions when you're composing music, what could you possibly be doing?
Exactly, and to dovetail on Bob's comment, the "audience" doesn't feel the same thing en masse, different people respond differently to different sounds - one person'd melancholy major seventh is another's cornball, sappy old-fashioned chord ...
Old 1 week ago
  #4
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Plenty of music out there that sounds lifeless and has no emotion. Maybe I should have started another thread about analog synths...probably would have 5 pages full of arguing by now. Forgot this was gearslutz aka pretentious douchbags - r - us.
Old 1 week ago
  #5
"Chord progression" is an overused inculcative term.
Old 1 week ago
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by starsoul707 View Post
"Chord progression" is an overused inculcative term.
The term chord progression simply refers to the order in which chords are played in a song/piece of music.
Old 1 week ago
  #7
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Originally Posted by rrlc View Post
The term chord progression simply refers to the order in which chords are played in a song/piece of music.

Well, since this is "pretentious douchbags - r - us" I'll point out that "the order in which chords are played in a song/piece of music" is simply the chord sequence; in order for something to be a bona fide chord progression there need to be functional tendencies that allow the listener to audiate (and often predict) how and why the harmony moves from one chord to the next.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rrlc View Post
Plenty of music out there that sounds lifeless and has no emotion.
Well of course that's true, but that doesn't necessarily mean the writers weren't still trying to stimulate the emotions of the listeners - maybe they just didn't succeed - at least with some of us.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
Well, since this is "pretentious douchbags - r - us" I'll point out that "the order in which chords are played in a song/piece of music" is simply the chord sequence; in order for something to be a bona fide chord progression there need to be functional tendencies that allow the listener to audiate (and often predict) how and why the harmony moves from one chord to the next.
Blah, blah, blah...Don't you have an oil painting to do on pbs or something? Now, go on and get.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
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My two cents here... chord progressions definitely have to play with the emotions. Maybe not a total emotional rollercoaster type of thing though because the brain is a big factor when composing chord progressions. Any music lover will have a sort of mental prerequisite for how any given progression should tense up and resolve. So the "emotional impact" is also very much a matter of how the brain responds to what the ear hears AND the comparisons between the chords in the progression. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that further study of this would fall under harmony. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong about that last bit.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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Originally Posted by busystarter View Post
My two cents here... chord progressions definitely have to play with the emotions. Maybe not a total emotional rollercoaster type of thing though because the brain is a big factor when composing chord progressions. Any music lover will have a sort of mental prerequisite for how any given progression should tense up and resolve. So the "emotional impact" is also very much a matter of how the brain responds to what the ear hears AND the comparisons between the chords in the progression. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that further study of this would fall under harmony. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong about that last bit.
Finally, a sensible response!
Old 1 week ago
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rrlc View Post
Blah, blah, blah...Don't you have an oil painting to do on pbs or something? Now, go on and get.
Nope, I'll be here all week. Try the veal! And don't forget to tip your waitress.
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
This question seems almost tautological: If you're not playing with the audience's emotions when you're composing music, what could you possibly be doing?
I don't know if I would call it "playing" with the audience's emotions. That makes it sound like it's a malicious act. As a songwriter, I am trying to evoke an emotion from the listener. Whether it is the emotion I was hoping to create or not is up to the listener and my abilities as a songwriter, but as long as there is some form of an emotional connection with the song as a songwriter I'm satisfied with that.
Old 1 week ago
  #14
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Old 1 week ago
  #15
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It's weird. Why does music even have an effect on humans like that? How have we evolved to become emotional from sounds? I wonder if other species are affected by it like us? My dog sure doesn't seem to care.
Old 1 week ago
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
I'll point out that "the order in which chords are played in a song/piece of music" is simply the chord sequence; in order for something to be a bona fide chord progression there need to be functional tendencies that allow the listener to audiate (and often predict) how and why the harmony moves from one chord to the next.
Interested in this claim!

Have you any references that substantively support this assertion?
Can you give an example/explanation of a sequence versus a progression?
Can you quantify exactly the conditions/circumstances when something ceases to be one and becomes the other?
Old 1 week ago
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creegstor View Post
Have you any references that substantively support this assertion?
"substantively"? LOL! I was first introduced to the concept of the Chord Progression Versus the Chord Sequence by Professor Thomas Hojnacki when I was a grad student at the New England Conservatory of Music in the early 1990s. Tom is now the Assistant Chair of the Harmony department at the Berklee College of Music...none of which actually answers your question "substantively", but I'm guessing you know how to operate the Google to find references. I'd start with the Harmony textbooks used at either NEC or Berklee.


Quote:
Originally Posted by creegstor View Post
Can you give an example/explanation of a sequence versus a progression?
In short, Chord Progressions follow the functional roles of chords as used in the common practice major/minor tonal system: If the chords' behaviors can be characterized as Tonic, Sub-Dominant, Dominant etc -- and (importantly) they sound as if they fulfill the expectations associated with those names/functions -- the changes can be described as a "chord progression" because the harmony progresses through a traditional process of expectation/gratification.

Conversely, in a Chord Sequence there is little (or less) sense of a traditional process of expectation/gratification because the chords either don't sound/function as Tonic, Sub-Dominant, Dominant etc. or because they consistently and repeatedly confound the expectations of those roles. Chord Sequences tend to sound more tonally ambiguous than Chord Progressions; the motion from one chord to the next is generally not predictable (except due to repetition) because the chords operate as non-functional simultaneities that only "move" to the next chord in the metaphoric sense rather than the traditional functional sense.

Examples? Off the top of my head:
"All The Things You Are"
"Autumn Leaves"
"Yesterday"
"Fire And Rain"
and just about every blues tune ever written
are all Chord Progressions.

"Maiden Voyage"
"So What"
"Tomorrow Never Knows"
and probably 50% of the Steely Dan songs ever written
are all Chord Sequences.


Quote:
Originally Posted by creegstor View Post
Can you quantify exactly the conditions/circumstances when something ceases to be one and becomes the other?
I don't know that there's any one thing you can do that makes a piece automatically fall into one category or the other. There's definitely some gray area, and/or some overlap. (E.g., I'm not sure where I would put Horace Silver's "Song For My Father" because while it can be analyzed as a functional chord progression, until you actually become familiar with the tune it tends to sound non-functional & tonally ambiguous the moment that Db7 arrives.)
Old 1 week ago
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
"substantively"? LOL! I was first introduced to the concept of the Chord Progression Versus the Chord Sequence by Professor Thomas Hojnacki when I was a grad student at the New England Conservatory of Music in the early 1990s. Tom is now the Assistant Chair of the Harmony department at the Berklee College of Music...none of which actually answers your question "substantively", but I'm guessing you know how to operate the Google to find references. I'd start with the Harmony textbooks used at either NEC or Berklee.
)
I still have most of my Berklee textbooks from my 4 years there in the 70's - perhaps they modified the curriculum, but we never used the term "sequence", it was always a chord progression. The first time I heard the term "chord sequence", it was uttered by George Harrison, so I always just assumed it was a British variation on the same term, a chord progression.

The term "chord progression" simply means to progress from one chord to another. Some chords are functional, some hold a certain sound - for example, "Maiden Voyage" uses non-functional harmony, but a tune like "Autumn Leaves" has a chord sequence () that's very functional.

One of my favorite courses of study at Berklee was diagraming chord progressions from popular (and not so popular) tunes - AKA, "Advanced harmony" - we were often tasked by our professors to come up with a logic, or analyzation for a given chord progression; some of the techniques learned were "constant structures", "modal interchange", dividing the octave into equal parts and drawing new key centers from those equal divisions - for example, key of C and key of F# splits the octave in half, each side can have all the chords available from either key (melody permitting) for composing or reharmonization - it really opens up the palate, especially when you divide the octave up into smaller bits like minor thirds (diminished) seconds (whole tone) etc., - all things you probably recall (and I assume they were still teaching that into the 90's)
Old 1 week ago
  #19
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Originally Posted by Sharp11 View Post
"Maiden Voyage" uses non-functional harmony, but a tune like "Autumn Leaves" has a chord sequence () that's very functional.
Oh sure, in the purely semantic sense all chord progressions are chord sequences...because they are all sequences of chords. But if we're playing the semantic game, one has to also acknowledge that "chord progression" is a misnomer, because the only "progression" that's taking place is metaphorical.

And in the colloquial sense, all chord sequences have been referred to as "chord progressions" since ...well, certainly since the early 20th Century, and probably long before that.

As with many terms in contemporary music, I suspect the evolution away from the colloquial use towards this specific differentiation between progressions and sequences arose from a need to concisely identify functional versus non-functional chains of harmony.
Old 1 week ago
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
"substantively"? LOL! I was first introduced to the concept of the Chord Progression Versus the Chord Sequence by Professor Thomas Hojnacki when I was a grad student at the New England Conservatory of Music in the early 1990s. Tom is now the Assistant Chair of the Harmony department at the Berklee College of Music...none of which actually answers your question "substantively", but I'm guessing you know how to operate the Google to find references. I'd start with the Harmony textbooks used at either NEC or Berklee.
A simple "no I don't have supporting references" would have sufficed! But thanks.
Old 6 days ago
  #21
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Chord progression and chord sequence are interchangeable terms in my book. They mean simply a sequence of chords, no need to look any further into it. Not an over used term, just a bog standard "says what it is" one.
Old 6 days ago
  #22
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And yes they can definitely have an emotional impact, probably a let down if it doesnt.
Old 6 days ago
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rrlc View Post
Blah, blah, blah...Don't you have an oil painting to do on pbs or something? Now, go on and get.
Old 6 days ago
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creegstor View Post
A simple "no I don't have supporting references" would have sufficed!
But then I wouldn't have pointed you in the appropriate direction, which at least allowed you to come back with "I investigated your suggestion and came up with nothing" or perhaps "I investigated your suggestion and came up with something appropriately substantive" or perhaps even "I investigated your suggestion and came up with a bunch of stuff but none of it fit my personal criteria for 'substantive'" ...something to suggest that you were actually genuinely interested in finding an answer rather than just having an internet pissing match.
Old 6 days ago
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
But then I wouldn't have pointed you in the appropriate direction, which at least allowed you to come back with "I investigated your suggestion and came up with nothing" or perhaps "I investigated your suggestion and came up with something appropriately substantive" or perhaps even "I investigated your suggestion and came up with a bunch of stuff but none of it fit my personal criteria for 'substantive'" ...something to suggest that you were actually genuinely interested in finding an answer rather than just having an internet pissing match.
No. I am interested. But I also value my time. Off the bat I don't see anything anywhere to support your statement. I've never heard anyone ever differentiate it that way and I know quite a few Berklee alumni. If it really is a thing beyond something some guy (however illustrious) said in a classroom 20+ years ago I would certainly be curious to see anything to support that.
Old 6 days ago
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil0 View Post
Not an over used term.
It is an overused term, and it destroys creativity. Mainly because it puts you in a single timbre mindset. "Chord Progression" makes you think of "chords" with your hand, on one instrument, like a guitar. By virtue of its nomenclature, the term "chord progression" reduces the process of song creation to triads on a single instrument.

It creates the illusion that song creation is derived from:

One chord
moving to the
Next chord.

This is painfully obstructive.

There are multiple ways to create harmony with multiple instruments playing individual parts of "chords". Where does a "chord" stop and where does it start? Is it only when the piano plays two notes at once? When is there the absence of "chords"?

Everything in a song is harmonically intertwined even though you may not call them "Chords". Isn't the cymbal part of a "chord"? If there is only a beat and a voice, throughout a whole song---is that "chord-less"?
Old 6 days ago
  #27
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Dont forget: Arpeggios are also chords.
Old 6 days ago
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by starsoul707 View Post
It is an overused term, and it destroys creativity. Mainly because it puts you in a single timbre mindset. "Chord Progression" makes you think of "chords" with your hand, on one instrument, like a guitar. By virtue of its nomenclature, the term "chord progression" reduces the process of song creation to triads on a single instrument.

It creates the illusion that song creation is derived from:

One chord
moving to the
Next chord.

This is painfully obstructive.

There are multiple ways to create harmony with multiple instruments playing individual parts of "chords". Where does a "chord" stop and where does it start? Is it only when the piano plays two notes at once? When is there the absence of "chords"?

Everything in a song is harmonically intertwined even though you may not call them "Chords". Isn't the cymbal part of a "chord"? If there is only a beat and a voice, throughout a whole song---is that "chord-less"?


I don't find myself being put in that mindset. The idea of a chord does not make me think only of triads on a single instrument.

The definition of a chord is two or more notes played at the same time so that's where a "chord" starts and stops. There is an absence of "chords" when there is only one note or no tuned notes playing together.

If I play a crash cymbal on a drum kit I consider it to be untuned, it has no effect on the harmony of a song. I have never met a drummer who changes his cymbals between songs to fit the key (although I'm sure one exists out there). So for me the cymbal is not part of a chord and if there is just a single melody line and a drum beat then that piece is "chord-less".
Old 4 days ago
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rrlc View Post
Plenty of music out there that sounds lifeless and has no emotion. Maybe I should have started another thread about analog synths...probably would have 5 pages full of arguing by now. Forgot this was gearslutz aka pretentious douchbags - r - us.
LOL, true.
Old 4 days ago
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
Well, since this is "pretentious douchbags - r - us" I'll point out that "the order in which chords are played in a song/piece of music" is simply the chord sequence; in order for something to be a bona fide chord progression there need to be functional tendencies that allow the listener to audiate (and often predict) how and why the harmony moves from one chord to the next.
With respect:

What a bunch of bloviating highfalutin nonsense. Chances are
1 99% of the audience doesn't have any knowledge of harmonic theory
2 of those that do, none of those can identify a "functional tendency" (or whatever) in real time

Auditiation and prediction of functional tendencies in real time? Get real!!!

We are moved by music without needing to know, or knowing, why it moves us. Appoggiaturas are effective in writing melodies. Yet if Adele uses one on a track, chances are 0.1% of listeners have ever heard of the term, yet the vast majority will appreciate the effect without even knowing that it's a "thing".

My guess is that what the OP is alluding to is simply the somewhat magical stroke awesome stroke fascinating way in which certain chords when strung together evoke emotions within us.
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