The Relation between Minor Mode Music and Sadness, by Milton D. Heifetz

The Relationship Between Minor Mode Music And Sadness

By Milton C. Heifetz

There appears to be a general consensus among musicologists that music written in the minor mode is more prone to elicit feelings of sadness than music written in the major mode. Peter Kivy commented upon this relationship and mentioned
…the wonderful moment in the finale of the Ninth Symphony when…Beethoven tinges the theme with grief by giving it a minor harmonization (in measures 205-206)… Why should the change merely of one note in a melody of itself change the whole character from joy to sorrow?…We must take a new look at musical expressiveness to find what it is that thus far has evaded us

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