Music stirs emotion: but how?

Music stirs emotion, but do scientists really know how or why?  Does music make you feel emotional?  Of course it does!  But why does this happen and how can music stir up so many different emotions?  This is a question that we all ask ourselves from time to time.  We can innocently turn on the car radio, simply looking for distraction on our drive to or from work, and suddenly, there we are sobbing or tearing up, perhaps even laughing or smiling.

I had this experience, yet again, just a few weeks ago, driving home from watching a movie in the theater.  I had gone to see a decidedly un-sentimental movie and was rushing home to get back to work.  I absentmindedly turned up my car radio to hear some news.  I unexpectedly hit upon “The Prairie Home Companion,” which was almost over.  I really wasn’t paying a lot of attention to his words, when a piece of music started playing that instantly engaged me!  It was a simple piano piece to start with.  But something about the twists and turns of the melody and harmonies starting pulling powerfully at my emotions.  It released strong feelings of sadness and sorrow and deep regret.  I was so surprised because this was not a piece by a Master like Beethoven, Brahms or Chopin?  It was a very simple folk-like piece that drew on two things that I know that I respond to:  hymn-like chord progressions and modal melodies and harmonies.  There was an unmistakable wistfulness to it that made me just want to seriously boo-hoo, but also an immediate, accompanying feeling that I had to find out what this piece was and try to get either a recoding, or even better, the sheet music to it!!!

Later that night I went to the website for Prairie Home Companion and found a link to email the host.  I wrote to him, asking, imploring him to tell me what it was and where I might get a copy?  Honestly I didn’t much think I would hear back from him, but the following Tuesday, to my delight and amazement, there was an email from  The lady said very nicely that they don’t sell recordings or sheet music, but directed me to the link on YouTube where I could find this!

Below is this treasured little waltz, “A Waltz for Caroline,” by the show’s pianist, Rich Dworsky.  Needless to say, I’ve become a huge fan of Rich Dworsky and am working my way through his other compositions on YouTube.  I’d love to know how YOU like and if it affects you as powerfully as it did me!!

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One Response to Music stirs emotion: but how?

  1. Avatar
    michael October 20, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

    I listened when you put it on FB and thought it lovely. Emotions are so unpredictable . . . I teared up at the end of Dirty Dancing the other night, a combo of music, story, characters and memories!

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