|"Can you make it more 'Romantic' sounding?"|
I came across this fascinating webpage project created by Steven R. Livingstone where he actually uses musical characteristics of tempo, key, harmonic complexity, pitch register, articlulation, loudness, etc... to "filter" works by Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Mozart to produce alternate "feelings" than what a listener would normally feel. In other words, a piece usually regarded as being "happy" could be altered to sound "sad" (or make the listener feel sad).
On Livingstone's webpage you can actually download recordings of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 20, Op. 49 No. 2 in G Major in 5 different "versions":
To create the Sad version, he made the tempo 'slow', the mode 'Minor', the Harmony 'complex', the pitch 'low', the loudness 'quiet', the articulation 'legato', etc....
This picture explains it in a nutshell:
When I look over the various pieces of music in my collection representing happy or sad music, it's surprising how close the music hews to the above musical analysis. Livingstone cites a success rate of 71% is his test group of 18 listeners (71 percent guessed the correct feeling that the filter was trying to create).
Of course this in no way denigrates music's effect on our emotions - a great work evokes emotions to much greater complexity than a what a few words could describe - that's what poetry is for! Nonetheless, it's a fascinating study of modifying factors which Beethoven no doubt knew of and took full advantage of while improvising for his parlor listeners....
Check out the site below and scroll down to listen to Livingstones' "altered" versions of Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Mozart.
Changing Musical Emotion: A Computational Rule System for Modifying Score and Performance.
Update: Uh oh - Mr. Livingstone's site has now been blocked, maybe someone had forgotten to lock the back door....OK - sorry about that.
Apropo of the above article is another site, "Kickassclassical.com" which collects the most popular classical music heard today and "assigns" them an emotive value, for example:
1 Beethoven Symphony No. 5 = rousing
2 Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture = powerful
3 Mozart Eine Kleine Nachtmusik = formal
4 Bach Toccata And Fugue In D Minor = scary
5 Rossini William Tell Overture = horses
6 Pachelbel Canon In D = wedding
7 Strauss Blue Danube = cartoon
8 Orff Carmina Burana: O Fortuna = scary
9 Strauss, R Also Sprach Zarathustra = impending
10 Offenbach Orpheus,: Infernal Galop = cartoonetc...
Head over there to see if you agree with their assessments.
Kickass Classical Top 100
You can hear all 100 "top classical melodies" below in sequence as well (without the intended emotion tho). It's a fun 20 minutes :).