The question of seeking sadness: Expressiveness and emotional effect in music/ Problema căutării tristeții. Expresivitate și efect emoțional în muzică/ 36-46

Ecaterina Forij


The paper aims to broadly touch on the topic of emotion in music, with a focus on the age-old question of why humans continuously seek out, listen and enjoy an aesthetic experience that, at first sight, brings nothing but emotional pain. In other words, why do we listen to sad music? In the first part of the paper, I discuss a few topics regarding what it means for music to express emotion.I introduce the Expression theory and touch on how music and the emotions it expresses translates back to us, the listener, as well as what the origins of this theory are. Next, using the framework from authors such and J.Levinson and P.Kivy, I draw a distinction between “life-sadness” and “music sadness”, and question whether the emotions aroused by the musical experience are of the same nature as the ones we experience in our lives. Lastly, I mention a few possible explanations for our overarching question: is it the beauty of the musical experience, the cathartic properties, the lack of real-life consequences, or perhaps something more?


emotions; music; sadness; expression theory; negative feelings; catharsis; aesthetic experience

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ISSN 2668-0009; ISSN-L 2668-0009