CNMN > Projects > Language of Emotion In Music

Jodi Proznick

  • Ouvert (définition : partitions pour une instrumentation non spécifiée)
  • Objets trouvés ou matériel artistique
  • Voix
  • Instruments acoustiques
  • Instruments rock
  • Appareils numériques
  • 5 à 12 ans
  • 13 à 18 ans
  • Adultes
  • Ainés
  • Intergénérationnel

This could be a one hour workshop or multiple sessions over an extended period of time.

  • Éducation
  • Associations communautaires
  • La santé mentale

Language of Emotion In Music


What does it mean to “Know Music”?

The impor­tant thing, as one can­not repeat too often, if that the child should learn to feel music, to absorb it, to give his whole body and soul to it ; to lis­ten to it not mere­ly with his ear but with his whole being. ~ Emile Jaques Dalcroze

Goals :

  • Embo­died unders­tan­ding and enga­ge­ment 
  • To encou­rage “kno­wing-in-action”.
  • To accept and nur­ture move­ment impulses and emo­tio­nal reac­tions to music.
  • To engage with the sen­sing, fee­ling, expe­rien­cing body through musi­cal sounds and activities.
  • To culti­vate per­for­mance, lis­te­ning, reflec­tion and creation.
  • To exa­mine the body as a conscious and expli­cit mode of transformation.
  • To invite the wealth of infor­ma­tion and know­ledge that the sen­sual body holds and invite it into the edu­ca­tio­nal musi­cal expe­rience. 
  • To acti­ve­ly engage in ima­gi­na­tive, music crea­tion at all ages and levels.
  • To deve­lop musi­cal poten­tial through infor­mal gui­dance that connects the lis­te­ning expe­rience with sound exploration.
  • To create a lis­te­ning and res­pon­sive musi­cal community.

By uti­li­zing the mood meter, par­ti­ci­pants explore their inner emo­tio­nal world and how that emo­tio­nal world can be explai­ned in terms of plea­sant and unplea­sant fee­lings and higher or lower ener­gy.

These concepts are explo­red using the lan­guage of emo­tion.  By tuning into this emo­tio­nal expe­rience, docu­men­ting it, and then rela­ting it to music, par­ti­ci­pants can explore their own sound art poten­tial. 

Any ins­tru­ments can be used, inclu­ding found objects, the voice and/or body per­cus­sion. The music ensemble of any size and/or ins­tru­men­ta­tion is the framework.

The music crea­ted will reflect the four colours found on the mood meter (see atta­ched photo).

Par­ti­ci­pants will create an impro­vi­sed work – a col­lec­tion of 4 pieces. 

The faci­li­ta­tors par­ti­ci­pate as much or as lit­tle as neces­sa­ry, based on the stu­dents brains­tor­ming and impro­vi­sa­tions. 

The final per­for­mance consists of the stu­dents using the lan­guage of emo­tion and color to create an impro­vi­sed musi­cal work.

Step by Step Instructions :

  • Look at the Mood Meter and explain how it works.
  • Divide the group up into 4 ensembles.
  • Using large pieces of paper and colou­red mar­kers, have each group brains­torm “fee­ling words” around the 4 colours on the mood meter :
    1. Blue : low ener­gy, unpleasant
    2. Green : low ener­gy, pleasant
    3. Yel­low : high ener­gy, pleasant
    4. Red : high ener­gy, unpleasant
  • Once the group has brains­tor­med lan­guage of emo­tions, they can explore “impro­vi­sing emo­tions” on their ins­tru­ments. 
  • The group creates a suite of 4 impro­vi­sed pieces based on the four colours dis­played on the mood meter.

Exten­sions :

  • Brains­torm contras­ting musi­cal terms that coin­cide with emo­tions and cor­res­pon­ding musi­cal res­ponses (ex. stac­ca­to, lega­to, forte, pia­no, dis­so­nance, conso­nance, timbre, etc.)
  • Use pho­to­gra­phy, video or visual art found through online research to mir­ror the emo­tion as a way to fur­ther enhance the sen­sual explo­ra­tion. 
  • The visual art work or poe­tic res­ponses could be crea­ted by the students.
  • Lis­ten to ins­tru­men­tal music from a varie­ty of styles and have the stu­dents iden­ti­fy the “colours” or “moods.” The stu­dents can think in terms of high or low vibra­tion, plea­sant or unplea­sant fee­lings, and the lan­guage of emo­tion. 
  • Use music nota­tion, lead sheet construc­tion and/or gra­phic scores to docu­ment the composition.

My Per­so­nal Reflection : 

I first taught this unit when I was the artist-in-resi­dence at my son’s Reg­gio Emi­lia based ele­men­ta­ry school in Coquit­lam, B.C.

As a school, they were respon­ding to the Mood Meter as a dai­ly check in. Over the weeks, I wat­ched my son learn about how to des­cribe his mood. His voca­bu­la­ry expan­ded and he became very com­for­table arti­cu­la­ting his fee­lings at a very young age. I was exci­ted to see this work hap­pe­ning with young chil­dren and I qui­ck­ly rea­li­zed that this voca­bu­la­ry was a won­der­ful gate­way into aes­the­tics in music. I  loo­ked to deve­lop a musi­cal acti­vi­ty that would draw from the socio-emo­tio­nal lear­ning that was alrea­dy hap­pe­ning in the class­room . 

Music is the lan­guage of emo­tion and when young chil­dren deve­lop the lan­guage to des­cribe their inner worlds, they also deve­lop the lan­guage to des­cribe music and then, in turn, create musi­cal work in res­ponse to those concepts. 

Over the years I have used this acti­vi­ty with groups of all ages and abi­li­ties.  I am always ama­zed at the unique ways the par­ti­ci­pants were able to engage with the mood meter, relate their fin­dings to des­cri­bing recor­ded music and then create beau­ti­ful, impro­vi­sed music com­po­si­tions. 

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