[Smt-talk] Pieces contrary to the minor/major = sad/non-sad stereotype

Daniel Wolf djwolf at snafu.de
Thu Oct 1 10:37:22 PDT 2009

One of the best illustrations of this is the Gamelan Angklung repertoire  
of Bali.  Most listeners coming from a western background find this  
ensemble of miniature idiophones, tuned in a four-tone approximate  
Do-Re-Mi-Sol scale to be light and cheerful in the extreme. However, for  
Balinese, for whom Angklung is essential accompaniment to rituals  
associated with cremation, the music is profoundly sad, nostalgic, and  
anything but light in character.

I believe that there is no better description of the indeterminacy between  
music and affect than that found in Gilbert Rouget's _Music and Trance_.   
Rouget presents a diversity of examples showing the instrumentalisation of  
music in elevated mental states (trance, enthusiasm, ecstasy etc.) but  
also demonstrates that the _particular_ music or musical material used is  
not determined.

Daniel Wolf
composer, Frankfurt

On Thu, 01 Oct 2009 18:45:45 +0200, Randolph Johnson  
<randolph.johnson at gmail.com> wrote:

> I'm interested in identifying pieces that are contrary to the
> minor = sad stereotype.  For example, no one would consider
> Mozart's "Rondo Alla Turca" to be "sad" even though it is
> (mostly) in the minor mode.  At the same time, the aria
> "He Was Despised" in Handel's Messiah is very sad, but
> in the major mode.
> Any suggestions about other works that go contrary to
> the stereotype? I'm especially interested in nominally "sad" works
> in the major mode and "non-sad" works in the minor mode.
> Thanks for your suggestions.
> Randolph Johnson
> randolph.johnson at gmail.com

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