Human beings are complex creatures. We’re full of paradoxes. We love watching the movies that scare the crap out of us. We eat junk food though we know it’ll make us sick. And we love listening to sad music even when there’s nothing particularly tragic going on with us. If the latter one especially speaks to your soul, we’ve got a present for you. Meet Nocturnal Theory — the winner of our special New Year’s 2019 Tournament and the new sponsor of your next wistful evening.
photo: provided by Nocturnal Theory
What Makes Sad Music Sad?
Sad music doesn’t always have to contain sad lyrics or be written in a minor mode. For example, the main theme of Radiohead’s Creep is made in a major key, though that didn’t stop this song from becoming a depressive anthem of the world. It’s all about the interaction between all the musical characteristics, such as mode, tempo, melody, timbre, dynamics, and harmony, that gives us the feels. And we are drawn to this beautiful chemistry, desperately trying to avoid the moments of real sadness in our lives at the same time.
But that’s where the difference lies. We do everything we can to omit real tragedy, depression, and loss. But we feel good reveling in the melancholy, which may or may not be based on the previous sad experiences.
photo: provided by Nocturnal Theory
As Emily Brady and Arto Haapala state in their work Melancholy as an Aesthetic Emotion: “Melancholy is an emotion often occasioned by people or places; we feel melancholic about a lover or friend, or a meaningful place in our lives, perhaps somewhere we have once lived. The quality of the feeling resembles and overlaps with sadness, but is more refined, involving some degree of pleasure, although not as much as bittersweet pleasure. Melancholy also shares a family resemblance with love, longing, yearning or missing something, as well as feeling nostalgic or the emotion that accompanies reminiscing. Although melancholy clearly belongs to this set of emotions, it is also a distinctive emotion in its own right.”
Feel Bad To Feel Good
So why do we constantly find ourselves in need of this minor damage? No, it’s not some kind of masochism, but rather a way to remind ourselves that we can still feel anything. Insert your Johnny Cash quote. Yes, we know, Johnny Cash’s one was a cover.
In the article Peter Hartley Booth had written for LightWorkers he cites an example of Bon Iver’s track: “Re: Stacks, the final track on For Emma, Forever Ago, is a good example, twinning a simple and mostly major melody with lyrical themes of depression, lost chances and lost love. The listener is invited to engage with sorrow and in doing so, the connection is made, the commonality of the human experience is witnessed and our sense of being is validated.” So basically, our seek of enjoyment through melancholy it’s just a way of being human.
“Psychologists have investigated further emotional benefits of sad music with lyrics:” — he continues, “we learn about our feelings when we listen to sad music and, in turn, enjoy a sense of assurance because we realize we have the ability to feel. In addition, we feel a sort of communion with the composer and other listeners and can draw sense satisfaction from responding to an art form. And perhaps, most interestingly, we experience resolution by gaining the knowledge that an emotional state can and has been regulated.”
We’ve All Been There
So is Nocturnal Theory’s music sad? It sure is. Will it make you feel good? Definitely. And yes, it will make you feel human. And not alone.
Dominic Rischard is a singer-songwriter and the ringleader of the band. The beauty of his tracks is versatile. In a sense of form, they appeal to you with the trembling echoing guitar, gentle electronic speckles and nuanced vibrato of Rischard’s vocals. His voice sounds familiar in an I’ve-known-you-in-my-past-life kind of way. And you’re ready to start reminiscing from the very first chords of any of his songs.
Combined with sadful lyrics, these songs give the perfect example of the whole concept of melancholy. His persona is not aching, he faced the truth and moved on. And now he shares his story, giving you a chance to relieve your own experience.
You don’t need to be sad to listen to sad songs, as well as to write them. Rischard is a delicate poet of heartbreak, though his own social media profiles show, that he’s happily engaged. But you still believe him. Because we’ve all been there. Because at the end of the day it’s all about feeling human. And simply being able to feel.