Robert Estrin - piano expert

How Music Creates Emotion

Discover the deep secret of musical emotion

In this video, Robert shows you how music can create emotions like no other art form can.

Released on December 16, 2020

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

I'm Robert Estrin, and this is Today, we're going to tackle a weighty subject, how music creates emotions. There are all kinds of scientific studies about this. It's a remarkable thing, isn't it, that you can listen to a tune or a theme or a composition or a symphony or a song, it doesn't even matter what it is, and how it can make you feel something inside. How is this possible?

Well, there's a great deal to it. But today I want to talk about two fundamental principles of music that I believe are primarily the mechanism by which we feel something. One is so obvious that it's ridiculous, and when I say it to you, you think, "Oh really?" But yes, really. And that's repetition. Repetition is such a strong aspect of being able to feel something in music because you comprehend it. There's something very refreshing about returning to something familiar, particularly when you get to some of the chaotic. That's why a sonata-allegro form that has repeated sections of themes and then develops them, then returns them later, is a magical formula, because it feels right. The same sort of formula is used in songs and popular songs, to have the return of the theme and the chorus back and forth, the verse, the chorus, and a bridge that takes you astray, so when it returns, you feel, "Ah."

The other thing is development. Development is really vital. To demonstrate that, I'm going to play a beautiful theme in the Chopin G Minor Ballade, how it is first stated, and then a little bit later, how it's stated completely differently. And because it's a familiar theme, it has so much more power.

You notice that even in that statement of the theme, it came back, it repeated with a little bit of embellishment. But a little bit later in the same Ballade, you hear the theme in a grandiose version.

Now, that's a glorious theme as a big, dramatic theme as well. But if you hadn't earlier heard the same theme in that delicate, poetic setting, I don't think it would have nearly the impact it has when it comes in the G Minor Ballade, the first Ballade of Chopin, later on.

That's just one example. There are limitless examples of repetition and development in music, which are the keys for being able to create emotion in music. There's much more to it than that, but those are two elements that are intrinsic to virtually all music.

I hope this is interesting for you. Again, I'm Robert Estrin at, your online piano resource. Thanks for joining me, subscribers. I appreciate it, and all you Patreon subscribers as well. We'll see you next time.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Larry on December 16, 2020 @8:05 am PST
As a novice pianist, I've been incorporating some of your suggestions. Silent Night played simply then with embellishments received family applause on ZOOM - and that's a tough audience.
Thanks for the tips.
Robert Estrin on December 16, 2020 @3:15 pm PST
So good to hear that you are spreading holiday cheer with your music!
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