Music Essays: Program Music Assignment


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Program Music Assignment


As the paintings hold their hidden sense, background, and intention in their colors, music compositions also express their landscape, not for eyes to analyze meticulously, though, for our ears to sense the mystery, phantasy, and ideals of the sounds and rhythms. In this paper, program music and phlisosopghical compositions are explored both independently and comparatively in terms of their particular impressions, characteristics, stories, and mood, as "program music is intended to evoke a specific idea, atmosphere or a narrative" (Kregor 4). As the virtues of the world can inspire the pictures of painters, composers and musicians do not overlook these beauties by hiddenly conveying them in their art pieces to touch the human soul in all means.

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Rain Spell by Toru Takemitsu expresses both the complexity and excellence of life with a drastically shifting pattern. As the water hastens or slows down depending on the broadness of an encircling water pipe, we as humans also are in a haze, hastiness, and delirium when not circled with beloved ones, when we are in a narrow width, or sometimes slow down and recline in a broader diameter that carries the water gently and slowly. This shift in pace, caused by the rhythm of life and represented by Takemitsu, often ‘‘describes our emotions and psychology" during abrupt changes, mistakes, regrets, and love (Hampton 237). The water at its highest velocity accompanied by the intense piano rhythm mimics the passion and the love when the haze is in peak.

George Crumb’s Sea Nocturne depicts the exploring soul along with the adventuresome side of humans with a slightly chilled and progressive pattern. Just as the water haphazardly goes into everywhere, every cliff, forest, mountain, and even the underworld, the human soul tends to explore to the most as well, not as indifferent as water, in any case. The drops in piano symbolize the breaks and rest the human soul demands, accompanied by the flute expressing the wisdom, the human soul needs. Right after climbing a cliff with a vibrant and wild pace as the music depicted, the human soul needs a moment to appreciate the beauty and aesthetic of the world, and relish the view.

Death Cab for Cutie’s Good Help simultaneously expresses the progressiveness and emotionality of the life"; we are born, raised, schooled, become a teenager, fell in love. Life’s dynamic side is depicted by using a triple rhythm, which symbolizes the ‘’logic, emotions, and the lifespan’’ itself with fastened beats per minute (Thaut 13). Also, after all, just as water drops from clouds to the underground, grows back to earth, explore, then evaporates with the sun, the music hints that the human has a similar journey, like an inevitable repair by the nature itself, Kintsugi.Tom Waits’ Rain Dog evokes the irresistible pace of life prompted by the time itself as raindrops from the sky, whereas his lyrics depict stream water like the journeys of the exploring souls resulted from the nature of human. His beautifully sizzling opera-like voice expresses a vast ocean, the parts of life that we encounter and embrace by all means. Both pieces, Wabi-sabi and Tom Waits reflect the inevitable course, beauty, and the aesthetic of nature.

In all art pieces, the tempo and rhythm of the music define the triggered emotions. Except Rain Dog evokes the irresistable pace, all other pieces have complex and layered rhythm resulting in consecutive emotions. However, Good Help expresses a rather continuous and gradual rhythm to highlight the parts of human life in a chronical sense, just like an ocean tends to be mostly consistent and relaxed.


After all, art is a "collective result of the human mind, emotions and sophisticated complexity," all of which are the necessary elements of creating a proper and expressive art piece (Hampton 237). Just as the nature pleases our eyes, music also appeals to our ears to trigger emotions needed for unrevealing the human intellectualness. These emotions triggered by music and life find a place in art pieces such as sculptures, paintings, and music.


Hampton, Peter J. “The Emotional Element in Music.” The Journal of General Psychology, vol. 33, no. 2, 1945, pp. 237–250.,

Kregor, Jonathan. Program Music. Cambridge University Press, 2015,

Thaut, Michael. “Rhythm, Music, and the Brain.” Nov. 2013.

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