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How emotions are conveyed through the (play)text.

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Presentation on theme: "How emotions are conveyed through the (play)text."— Presentation transcript:

1 How emotions are conveyed through the (play)text

2 Art is a human activity consisting in this, that one man consciously by means of external signs, hands on to others feelings he has lived through, and that others are affected by these feelings and also experience them. (Leo Tolstoy What is Art London 1959).

3 That language is a symbolic sign system of sound, as is music The sign of something is not the thing itself

4 Emotions Anger Joy Love Surprise Fear

5 Part of a larger study of the relationship between story telling and human consciousness This paper, using theories of musical form, content and tone as a critical approach, looks at how an aspect of (waking) consciousness, namely emotional states are expressed through the written word in the contemporary play.

6 Whose emotional states? My own External sign- text The dramatic narrative (the play) How am I going to persuade you that emotional states are expressed through the spoken word? By 1) applying musical theories of emotional expression to text 2) Comparing those texts to musical scores

7 Comparison is a fundamental tool of analysis. It sharpens our power of description, and plays a central role in concept-formation by bringing into focus suggestive similarities and contrasts among cases. Comparison is routinely used in testing hypotheses, and it can contribute to the inductive discovery of new hypotheses and to theory-building" (David Collier 1993, p.105)


9 ABSOLUTISTS maintain musical meaning lies exclusively in the context of the music itself, (in the perceptions of relationships within the musical work of art)

10 Hanslick, an absolutist concluded that emotions are not the subject matter which music is intended to illustrate. That music’s aesthetic, its beauty is contingent on the absence of emotional representation, a Platonist position.

11 REFERENTIALISTS maintain that music also refers to extra musical world of concepts, actions, emotional states and character

12 May be either absolutists and/or referentialists Both may see music as intra-referential, but not necessarily so: The formalists say that meaning lies in the perception of music whilst the understanding of music lies in the relationships. Expressionists may argue those relationships are capable of exciting feelings and emotions in the listener.


14 Thinking (meaning) and feeling ( emotion) are not diametrically opposed but part of a psychological process expressed through the art form, in this instance the word. Share their emotional life with others, either consciously or unconsciously through their art.

15 ‘Vocal music most accurately represents a definite feeling’ through its words and natural inflections, that emotion is in the text itself rather than the music.’ (Eduard Hanslick, 19 th century German Bohemian music critic) I would argue it is in the human voice, the instrument of the text, that the playwright writes for primarily and the human body secondarily.

16 Comparing music and text

17 whereby music in its movements and character becomes an analogue for the emotions and thus a signifier for emotional states.

18 Musical Notes Musical phrases Rests Musical major minor keys Tempi directions Mood directions Musical form Words Phrases, sentences of dialogue Pauses Tone (mood) Length and fluency of the above Directions on how to deliver a line Dramatic form

19 can be implied by speed because of correspondence between certain emotional states and their concomitant physical manifestation such as sadness, grief and a lugubrious slowness.

20 Music -controlled by directions and length of notes Words governing speed in music are in Italian or German directions- largo (broadly), moderato (moderately) presto (very fast), but also in the notes minums being longer than crochets which are longer than quavers which are longer than semi quavers Example 1-Chopin Premier Ballade in G minor Opus 23 Text-controlled by directions and also by sentence length Example 2 John Guare The House of Blue Leaves (1971) Act 1. ARTIE Example 3 Sarah Kane Psychosis 4.48 Example 4 Samuel BeckettAll That Fall

21 ‘forceful, weak, strong, languid, agitated, restless, calm, excited, quiet, indecisive, graceful, awkward, clumsy, angrily, trippingly and fluent’ can be ascribed to how a piece of music should be played or how a piece of text should be delivered.

22 Length of sentences, short sharp Use of exclamatives (!), Interrogatives (?), Imperatives ( this, do that), Declaratives Ellipsis ( ….) Emphasis (EMPHASIS) See play example Chips with Everything by Arnold Wesker

23 Aria Da Capo by Edith Vincent St. Milay Disappeared by Phyllis Nagy

24 Fugue= a patterning of three or four distinct voices or characters [Monteverdi famously divided his fugue into 16 voices] The Art of Fugue Bach Contrapunctus 9 Pyschosis 4.48 by Sarah Kane subverts the fugue form by having several indistinct voices mimicking the disorder ‘in her head’.

25 Butterfly Kiss by Phyllis Nagy uses the fugue form to pattern temporal zones rather than voices

26 Present cont. Time past 1. Merged time Time past 2 Merged time Time past 1 Present cont. Time past 1 Recent past Merged time Time past 3 Time past 4 Time past 2 Present cont. Time past 5 Present cont. Time past 6 Present cont. Merged time


28 ARIA means song DA CAPO go back to the beginning

29 (Sonata Means Sounded) A Exposition- introduces main themes B Development of these themes A Recapitulation of exposition

30  A SECTION  A dialogue between two stock characters  (from the Commedia Del Arte of Columbine and Pierrot)  Demonstrating ‘love’  B SECTION  A dialogue and interplay between two other stock characters  Two shepherds  Demonstrating ‘conflict’


32 Sarah Casey is a 25-year old travel agent who's never been outside of New York. When she goes missing after leaving a seedy bar in Hell's Kitchen, the last person to see her was a man who works in a thrift store and dresses in his client's clothes, assuming different identities. Was Sarah killed or did she merely 'disappear' to escape her anonymous existence?

33 Uses the twelve tone system of Arnold Schoenberg where all the 12 notes of the chromatic scale arranged in tone rows are sounded more or less equally- disallowing the establishment of a ‘key’.

34 Sarah Jack Elston Jack Ted Ellen Sarah Elston Elston Natalie Jack Ellen Ted Timothy Anthony Sarah Ellen Elston Ted Timothy Natalie Ted Anthony Ellen Elston Natalie Jack Timothy Elston Ted Sarah Jack

35 Oscillates around the Sunday evening in real time, Sarah disappears-opens and closes with this scene Various times preceding and following that evening past and future times Present continuous real time of the detective investigating the case Settings- various related to Sarah’s past-a bar, a travel agency, her mother’s home. A nowhere land when the detective addresses the audience

36 ACT ONE-the dissappearance Sunday evening After 1 After 2 Before 1 Early Sunday evening After 1 Before 2 After 3 ACT TWO-the investigation Interview room outside interview room Ellen’s apartment police station bar thrift shop Ends with second half of Sunday evening

37 In all these theories, all aspects and elements of music – Structure, descriptive terms of how to play a piece of music, its melody, pitch, relationships between the notes, phrasing, musical motifs have their equivalents in the play and all can be deemed responsible for communication of the emotions in some way. If we accept that these elements work together to create a piece of music, then perhaps we can safely conclude that emotions are integral to the fabric of organised sound and help illuminate how emotions are expressed through text, with the additional benefit of being meaningful and representative of thoughts as well. Feelings deemed resistant to representation in music such as sadness, hope, cheerfulness, piety, religious fervour, love, joy, grief and longing, are effortlessly represented in the dramatic narrative as directions for character action and response.

38 Thank You

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