Thursday, February 4, 2010

Human Nature

Here is something that is really true. In music, sad is a bunch of things and one of them is slow. This means that anyone learning to really play actual credible music will tend to develop sad songs first. This does not mean that sad songs are simpler in general, but that up tempo adds a whole tier of difficulty in this one way: up tempo music happens too fast for the mind to guide things in any conscious way. Up tempo music requires the complete training of the body mind. This is especially true when a musician adds the lyrics and voice which will often be similar to rubbing your belly and patting your head.

There's another piece...sad is the minor keys. It is easier in the minor keys to stumble around and accidentally make music-like sounds as long as you stay in key. The rules are more rigid in the brighter major keys. Here again the structure of things favors sad music because young musicians like the grace of making mistakes that don't sound like mistakes. The sad keys are in this way easier to play. It is even easier to play in the major keys but in the minor modes.

So want to sound like you are a musician? It is much easier to play slower in the minor keys. I know this from experience. :)

Poets have the same experience. You can write a sad poem that has credibility and feels real far easier than the happy poems. Writing happy and avoiding sappy is just not that easy.

Why is this??

Human Nature

If I thought, only
me, the only one who feels
empty just like this,
it would be too hard
to live even one more day.
That's when you write me
a few short lines that
show me I am not even
remotely alone.

Have you ever thought,
wondered why it is so much
easier to write
the empty sad songs
than the brightly wrought dances?
I truly wonder.

March 29, 2009 9:18 AM


  1. Now that is interesting. I have often thought why is it easier for me to write a poem about sad things.
    I also want to write poems that express joy, but i have experienced indeed, that it is very hard to do somehow.
    I am going to practice, happy and sappy. It's a start right?

  2. Seems to me that, when I'm sad, music is something I need--Miles Davis' trumpet or Billie Holiday's voice reminding me I'm not the only one who's ever felt that way. Music when I'm feeling happy, though, is just icing on the cake...nice to have but not really necessary. As such, a sad song really just needs to be honest to have weight, while a happy song really has to struggle not to feel like a trifle. Oone of the greatest happy songs I know is Louis Armstrong's What A Wonderful World--which, I think gains its power from the depth of his voice-a voice that tells you he knows what suffering's like, but right now he's happy anyway...

  3. Trying to remember the last pukeless happy song I heard on the radio.

    Oh yeah. The Turtles. Happy Together. That's 43 years ago. Now I'm sad.

  4. I guess other people wonder about this too...

    Jozien, it is really hard to do happy without doing sappy. :)

    Yoga, I think you are right about the needing music when you are sad thing. But happy works. I think about bluegrass music for example. Some of that is just terrific, and so is some of the upbeat Celtic music. And nothing compares to some of the upbeat symphonies.

    f/zero, "pukeless happy music" :D

    word ver. says ouslym...OMG "acid light" but you have to be on the inside on this one... Owsley made the best acid in the Bay Area in the 60's.

  5. whimsy came to me
    and i was happy to see


    there was no logic in our meeting
    just glimpses
    of fleeting
    thoughts and

    seeing for a moment
    timeless time
    caught dancing
    on my ceiling

    whimsy came to me
    and in that moment
    was only joy

    i like whimsy

    hope she comes again

    whimsy's visit

  6. So Ghost has proved that it is possible to write from a happy place, but notice (heh) whimsy is gone and would be welcome back again. So the writing is of whimsy's presence in whimsy's absence. There is a hint of loss in this...a Taoist's vision of happy with a little speck of sadness in its heart. This makes it real.

  7. I love this, I understood it all.

  8. Lucy :) We may be on to something universal then. Well. Really human, at least.

    The next step is to make peace with the difficulties of the happier voices and nonetheless go there as the higher challenge. Obviously you can't master either music or poetry without having personal territory in both lands.

  9. Oh yeah. But it is so much easier to live the bright!
    love you xxx

  10. Hmmm. This may be some of the difference between walking the walk and talking the talk. It's easier to talk one way, walk another. Hmmm. I don't think I mean happy and sad so much as there are other parts of us like honesty and hypocriscy which might be the same way.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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