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Dear members of the SMT. We want to inform you about the "Theory of Musical Equilibration (die Strebetendenz-Theorie)" and discuss the topic.
The Theory of Musical Equilibration states that in contrast to previous hypotheses, music does not directly describe emotions: instead, it evokes processes of will which the listener identifies with.
A major chord is something we generally identify with the message, “I want to!”. The experience of listening to a minor chord can be compared to the message conveyed when someone says, "No more." If someone were to say the words "no more" slowly and quietly, they would create the impression of being sad, whereas if they were to scream it quickly and loudly, they would be come across as furious. This distinction also applies for the emotional character of a minor chord: if a minor harmony is repeated faster and at greater volume, its sad nature appears to have suddenly turned into fury.
The Theory of Musical Equilibration applies this principle as it constructs a system which outlines and explains the emotional nature of musical harmonies, for example why a diminished chord is well-suited as the score for film scenes involving fear, or how an augmented chord can convey amazement and astonishment. You can get more information on the link Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy or on the link Music and Emotions .
Daniela Willimek, pianist, Karlsruhe University of Music, Germany
Bernd Willimek, musictheorist