Most music out there has the potential to heighten one’s mood and toy with our feelings, but what does it take for a song to actually succeed? What are the ways in which a piece of music can take its listener on an emotional journey, far and away from where they started?
Whether it’s somehow intrinsic to its instrumentation, or its construction, or whether it rests solely on the song’s melodic and harmonic attributes, we wanted to get to the bottom of how these rollercoasters of emotion actually play out in some of our favorite songs.
So I sat down with my frequent podcast companion, Mahea Lee, as well as songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Max Swan, and discussed music by Simon Dawes, Armando Young, Laura Marling, and more, in our quest to better understand “Songs That Are an Emotional Journey.” Listen to Themes and Variation’s 26th episode below:
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And be sure to check out Soundfly’s variety courses on emotive harmony and chord writing, including Unlocking the Emotional Power of Chords and The Creative Power of Advanced Harmony, if you’re looking to improve your understanding of music theory and how it applies to your music.
Episode 26 Highlights
1. Carter on the unique harmonic rhythm of “Execution Song.”
Carter: “The harmonic rhythm to me is so interesting on this track. It locks you in it’s not just ‘chord-2-3-4, chord-2-3,’ no it’s very attached to that unrelenting drive of the lyrical delivery. Taylor Goldsmith and Blake Mills, both playing guitar and singing and I believe on this track they’re both taking a verse, so I’m excited to get into that.”
2. Max on writing artistically from personal experiences.
Max: ‘I myself have been in an experience that I can relate to this where I’m writing about something that is hard for me to talk about, but the only way I can get my release is by writing about it. The only way I can feel better about it is by writing about it, but I’m so uncomfortable or I want to keep the privacy of what the piece of music is going to, might potentially reveal accidentally, I want to keep that still kind of tight. So I talk about things in a way that is not cryptic but is like artistic, you know what I mean? Like ‘another weed that found a way’ you know?”
3. Mahea on experimenting with intimacy.
Mahea: ‘Another thing I learned about her while prepping for this that fascinated me, she did a live art exhibition in 2011 called Experiments in Awkwardness where she would perform for two people who had never met each other before. She just gave like a solo performance to them. They would just experience this performance with a complete stranger and then leave.’
Max: ‘How close did they sit to each other?’
Mahea: ‘That’s a good question. That I don’t know. But even like, if you’re three people in the room… that’s pretty intimate.'”
Join Our Collaborative Playlist
Every time we launch a new episode, we create a collaborative Spotify playlist in order to share every song mentioned in this episode and explore many others that fit the theme. And you can add to it!
We want to hear your emotional journey songs, so go ahead and add them to the playlist yourself below!
We’ll see you in a couple weeks with a new theme, new guests, and some new songs to break down. If you have any comments, questions, or theme suggestions, drops us a line at [email protected]!