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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-01-2003, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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Major vs. Minor- Need quick response!!

Hey guys...

A friend and I are doing a project on how music affects the brain, a very obscure topic with little research out there. So to make up for a lack of specific information, we're planning being very comprehensive in the general topic area. But we'd still like some information on how music actually affects the mind...

So I brought up the fact that the major scale is commonly associated with finality, stability, and just general positivity whereas the minor scale (and its different variations and modes) are considered more melancholy. The closest explanation I can offer is the way the intervals are formed (ie. the leading tone in the major scale going into the octave root- tendency to move towards a certain pitch and going "home). But still, I need some concrete info here. Why do humans associate these things with these particular scales?

Can anybody offer any information or at least speculation on this topic? Quick responses are preferred as this thing's due tomorrow
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-01-2003, 07:16 PM
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Minor scales just are never played during a happy, bright part of a song. Likewise, major scales aren't played throughout depressing, sad parts of songs. Its just the way music has always been. I don't know. I just can't hear "Summer Song" being played in a minor scale.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-03-2003, 09:50 AM
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I don't think minor and major concepts should be automatically associated with "happy" and "sad". Even "happy" songs contain some minor chords and when you listen to them in the context of the song they don't sound that sad. That happens only when you listen to them individually.
JEMavenger said that he can't imagine Summer song played with a minor scale but the fact is that the main sequence of the song is in A minor pentatonic (which is an A minor scale with some notes missing). However this Minor pentatonic scale doesn't sound "sad" at all and you can check that by listening to Summer Song. Besides there are many examples where major doesn't sound "happy" and minor doesn't sound "sad". This is because this 2 are not the only states of mind a person can be in. Major can also mean "relaxed" (Starry night) and minor can also mean "misterious" for example. You probably already gave in your assignment but it's still an interesting topic to investigate.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-03-2003, 10:41 AM
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Yeah im with Diavoletto on this..the happy / sad thing is just wrong
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-03-2003, 02:52 PM
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Not strictly 100% relevant to the Major/Minor response question, but may contain some useful info for you, especially the 2nd link.
This is about the "Mozart Effect" - music's effect on spatial temporal reasoning. There's a link so you can listen to the broadcast program again.
This is about the psychological and other responses to musical dissonance and discusses what is dissonance and 'out of tuneness'. Also discusses alternate tuning systems (eg. Japan and Egypt where quarter tones are used amd not considered out of tune etc)
Again, there's a link to hear the program (I caught it today on the Radio) which is 1 out of 2 with the second program being broadcast next week (so too late for your assignment!!)

Hope they help
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-07-2003, 12:22 PM
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This is something we touched on briefly during theory classes up at college. One thing you might want to consider dedicating some time to is the entomylogical (sp?) derrivation of the terms- they refer to size, not tonality or "quality." Specifically, the distance between the root and the third degree of the scale. The ear registers a minor third as sounding smaller and more "constrained" than a major third, which comparatively sounds more restful, stable, and "open." Of course this is also largely a cultural pruduct, in that our ear has been conditioned to consider the major third interval as more "consonant" than a minor- both represent stable intervals and can be resolved towards equally effectively, but at some point far back in history (preesumably during the rise of Greek civilization) it was more-or-less arbitrarily decided that a major intrval was more pleasing than a minor, and the rest, as they say,w as history.

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-09-2003, 07:44 PM
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I believe that Major chords are the most resolved. It's kind of like a neutral point. Every tension we hear in a chord eventually resolves to the relative major 1 chord and our ears can sense the voices leading into it. Research voice-leading concepts.

As far as the direct effects of music to the brain, do research on music therapy and talk with a licensed therapist. There are more and more studies being conducted that deal specifically with music and mental health, so I'm sure you'll find some answers there.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-10-2003, 06:39 PM
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Re: Major vs. Minor- Need quick response!!

Originally Posted by XenoWang
Why do humans associate these things with these particular scales?
Conditioning, conditioning, conditioning. So much that it sticks to your dna, if necessary.

Also check out the more esoterical points of view on the subject, like Hazrat Inayat Khan's The Mysticism of Sound And Music.
Mr Orange is offline  

alternate tuning , minor scales , tuning system

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