The Feel versus The Mechanics of Music


Today I want to explore this topic call the feel and the mechanics of music. It is two elements that go hand in hand but they are very different components. One makes the sound, the other one makes the feeling.

When a note is being played in music, there’s the sound. The sound can be of different pitch, frequency or quality. It is heard but it’s not felt. The sound is only felt after the sound is being made.

The feeling of music is more important because it’s the part of the music that moves us. We cannot have the feel of music without the mechanics of music. And you cannot have the mechanics of music without it generating a feel of it.

Why is it better to have BBKing play one note than a teenage shredder play many notes? Because BBKing’s one note generate more feel than the latter’s many notes. The difference between both their playing is one is confident and not in a hurried, the other is nervous trying to prove him/herself.

The quality of the sound is how the note sounds, the quality of music is the feeling it translates to the listener after it is played.

That’s why it is important to observe the spaces between the notes and study how it impacts us than the note itself. The note is important to invoke different feeling by how’s it played, but it is the space in between that gives room for the feeling.

John Cage wrote a piece music called 4’33” filled with complete 4’33” worth of silence. For the listener, if that silence is lead to a feeling of peace then that’s music to them. Or if the listener is lead to irritation because no notes are heard, then its music in itself by what it caused the listener to feel.

Of course, I’m speaking in extreme terms because that piece is a controversial piece and discussion on it and arguments can be made of it for days. But it’s to prove the point that the feel of music when nothing is heard is a key component to music.

Let’s explore further this concept using different effects we can make to the notes we play. These are common effects we can make either naturally or through using guitar pedals.

1) Vibrato

Play a note and play with a strong vibrato. How does it impact the note and the after effect?

2) Tremolo

A tremolo is similar to a vibrato but yet different. If you could play it in your instrument, try it and what do you think is different from a vibrato? One deals with intensity, the other with frequency. It’s different and how different does it make you feel.

3) Distortion

When a note is distorted, it will sound harsh and intense. What is the feeling after hearing it? How does that compare to a normal undistorted note?

4) Compression

Now play a normal note but apply compression so that it sustains longer. How does that impact you? Are the silence and the space delayed? How does that delay impact how you feel?

5) Major chords

After the major chord is played, the after effect is the feeling of nice, yes that’s music. Fundamental and as simple as it can be.

6) Minor chords

After the minor chord is played, the after effect is the feeling of melancholy. That’s because of the quality of the flatted 3rd give us that effect.

7) Jazz 7th chords

Flatted 7th note in a jazz chord is what causes that pleasant “jazzy” feel after it’s heard.

8) Delay

Now let’s explore delay. The delay effect is when a note is being played and the effect echoes that note and in subsequent lower intensity as it’s repeated. That intense feeling after the note is repeatedly felt and in lesser and lesser intensity is what makes the effect so pleasant.

Now later, we are going to explore your signature sound. The question is will you choose this to be your signature sound? But before that, let’s ask us how everything we hear makes us feel.

People don’t enjoy music anymore because people don’t let the music move them.

Sometimes because of our hurried contemporary life, we hardened ourselves. We keep feelings in so that we don’t appear weak by being impacted by something that is seemingly trivial as sound. But the sound is not trivial, it is a gift from God and it should affect us. Now the question is how it affects us. The mechanics of music tells us how it played and how it sounds but it’s the feeling of music that makes it enjoyable and a pleasure to be a part of.

From today on, value the feeling of music as you value the mechanics of music when you play it.

It makes a big difference to the quality of life in the world that God has given to us. One that is filled with beautiful sounds and beautiful feelings it invokes.

I hope you enjoy this article and find it insightful to how you hear music from here on. Thanks and I would love to hear your comments about this topic. Please share how sounds affect how you feel?


4 thoughts on “The Feel versus The Mechanics of Music

  1. TinTinRuby

    Cool post about the guitar! I have no idea on how to play one, but I love listening to good music, and guitar is one of my favorite instruments played in any song. One of my favorite genre of music is Soft Rock which has got the particular musical instrument played in most (if not all).

    Although I’m not much into the theoretical aspect of music, but it’s actually good to be knowledgeable about the mechanics behind music, and not just the feel or rhythm.

    I’ve also learnt a lot about the different effects of the guitar from your post, thus at least I can sound a little professional when discussing about guitars!

    1. HT Post author

      Hey thanks for dropping by and your comments. Glad to know though you don’t play, you love good music and could learn one thing or two about guitars here.

  2. Joseph Barnaby

    Wow this was definitely a very deep article about music. It is so true though you know if your feeling a song or not. Sound and feeling are two totally different things and I’ve never thought of music this way. Great way on explaining everything we hear and feel from music. There was a lot of terms in here I has no idea what they were before reading this thank you. Great read


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