February 24, 2013

This will end in tears by Adam Brent Houghtaling

This will end in tears by Adam Brent Houghtaling
The miserabilist guide to music.

Aristotle suggested that we are drawn to the beauty of the tragedy and that we find excruciating pleasure in our experience of artfully constructed tragic creations  -essentially when we swoon at the grace of lyric or vocal performance and thrill to the intricate architecture of a symphony.

Aaron Smuts, assistant professor of philosophy at Rhode island college, wrote in his essay “Rubber Ring: Why do we listen to sad songs?” that we listen to these songs not for catharsis but rather ‘to intensify negative emotions partly as a means of focusing our reflection on situations of great importance. It is possible that we listen to sad music precisely so that we may crawl deeper into our sorrows, and that the more unfathomable the grief, the more likely our brains will respond to the distress by opening the dopamine taps and shaking loose protective hormones. As classical composer Stephen Johnson has noted,” There is something about seeing your own mood reflected that allows you to let go of that feelings” .

We may turn to gloomy music and sad songs to wade in our own sorrows, and the music we choose to listen to may drive us deeper into our despair, but sooner or later the hope is all roads lead to catharsis.

Szomorú Vasárnap by rezső seress had recently translated to English and marketed as The Hungarian Suicide song, due to a number of reported suicides attributed to the grim power of the work.

Out of 100 saddest songs listed in this book, let me list first 10 songs.

1. Adagio For strings - Samuel Barber
2. Strange fruit - Billie Holiday
3. In darkness let me dwell - John Sowland
4. Marie - Townes Van Zandt
5. Rank Stranger - The Stanley Brothers
6. I’m so lonesome I could cry - Hank Williams
7. Only the lonely - Frank Sinatra
8. Nothing Compares 2 U - Sinead O’Connor
9. Caroline, No - The beach boys
10. D|P 1.1 - William Basinski

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