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Music January 12, 2006

Posted by sensawunda in Music.
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What does it take for music to create sensawunda? I am just starting to consider music in this context.

Is it possible for pop songs? A few possible examples come to mind:
Sarah MacLachlan, “Building a Mystery”, “Possession”
Fleetwood Mac, “Gypsy”
Led Zeppelin, “Stairway to Heaven”
The Eagles, “Hotel California”

One thing these have in common is that they each tell unique stories, beyond pop’s usual “ooh baby baby.”

It’s certainly easier for classical music to inspire sense of wonder, with longer forms and richer resources of tradition & instrumentation. And, of course, classical composers typically receive a much deeper education in music theory than your average pop star. (I understand Sarah MacLachlan surpasses the average pop star in her music theory education.)

Beethoven, 5th Symphony; “Ode to Joy”
Mahler, 10th Symphony
Handel, “Hallelujah” chorus and several other pieces from The Messiah

I don’t know opera like I wish I did. Mozart’s Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) almost manages sense of wonder, but falls flat when it devolves into Masonic propaganda. I would be surprised if there weren’t operas out there that achieved sense of wonder. (Notice I feel funny spelling it the fannish way when talking about the high-brow stuff!) Opera is the forerunner of movies in adding music to enhance story.

I don’t know how it is that a chord change can break your heart. I don’t know how a composer knows what chord change will do that. I only know it can happen.

I would love to read comments and other possible examples.