Can Your Own Art Affect Your Emotions?

Hey, everyone! We’re taking a bit of a break from the Non-Tutorials to discuss something that came to my mind this morning when I was composing a new song. Is it possible for our own works to affect how we feel? That question can go both ways, though—can our emotions affect our work? To that one, I say yes, but to the first one, that’s what I’d like to discuss with you guys.

I began work on a new song for my game, simply titled “Numbers“. The tone of my game’s plot has changed drastically just in the past few days alone, and instead of being a story about a group of High Schoolers entering some strange world, I’ve taken the basic concept of going to different worlds and applied it to a murder mystery in a common office workplace. It’s like what Persona 4 would be if it was about 20-30 year-olds entering different worlds from their computers instead of High School-age kids entering different worlds from TV screens. And instead of a talkative 16 year-old main protagonist, we’ve got a silent 22 year-old protagonist with a rather dark secret that’s kept hidden until the end, unless you pick apart the clues yourself throughout the game.

Anyway, my point in all of this is that the game has a much darker and more serious tone, especially since it’s about issues we see in our real world, personified. I had no idea what “Numbers” was going to sound like when I started composing it, nor did I know where it was going to be used in the game. I just knew that I wanted to compose something to convey the mood of this new story. It started off as a rather stereotypical suspense song building up to something: a couple of reverberating heartbeats thrown at the beginning of each measure, each pair playing through either the left speaker or right, and a very low and percussive piano note extended across four measures playing the same note: a low ‘D’.

Then it introduced a string quartet, but as soon as I added that, I regretted it and began experimenting with different instruments. Though the beginning perfectly conveyed a feeling of suspense, I wanted more. I didn’t just want it to convey suspense. It felt boring and repetitive in a negative way. Then I found the Dulcimer in my soundfont bank and decided to give that a try. I added a few intervals from the offbeat of the first measure using the Dulcimer—i, v, iii, iv, vii, i (something like that). This new Dulcimer section introduced the melody right after the two heartbeats at the beginning of the first measure, and I loved it.

I decided to keep going along with this melody. It would begin and end right on the tonic from the offbeat at the beginning of each odd-numbered measure until the fourth measure when there was a gradual change in the melody’s structure and I added a harmony section. I got about 12 measures down with an epic feel, but for some reason, the more I listened to the melody I created, the more I began to feel something strange. It was a sense of dread, despair, and sorrow.

Honestly, I recognized the feeling. I’ve had it in the past when my depression was really bad and I would wake up convinced that the world around me didn’t exist and it was all just a cruel trick by fate, making me think I wasn’t alone. That’s the feeling I received listening to the melody of “Numbers“, and until I started writing this blog entry, that’s how I felt for the rest of the morning. I’m feeling slightly better now that I’m at work, writing this, and around my co-workers, but that feeling is still lingering.

That brings me to my main question—can our own work affect how we feel? I can say with 100% certainty that it can and it does. The reason I say this with so much certainty is because my new book has been doing that to me. I’ve noticed that ever since a couple of the main characters have passed away and the rest of them have been separated, I’ve been much sadder than usual, though I can’t reunite them yet. That’s the issue. I wonder if that feeling left me vulnerable enough for “Numbers” to give me this awful feeling. And like I just said, writing this blog entry has eased the feeling up a little bit.

With all of that being said, what are your thoughts? Has your own work ever affected you emotionally? And if so, what’s the story behind it? I would love to know. In the meantime, I hope you all have a great day and continue to be awesome.

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