High Drama - Emotions and messages
Time flies! It has been a month since we did our show with AMP Concerts at The Outpost Performance Space at the end of May 2015. The video above is from the show. Featured are, apart from myself on vocals and Scott on guitar, Larry Otis on guitar, Frank Bramlitt on percussion and Alicia Ultan on viola.
The song is a Norwegian medieval ballad, translated into English. It is from our series of ballads about The Mountain King, a Scandinavian legend that to some extent parallels the Greek myth of Persephone. The part of the ballad sung here is about The Mountain King being furious because the human girl who has lived with him for many years has told her mother about him and her life in the mountain. He appears and drags her away to take her back into his otherworldly lair. So it is actually quite a violent scene. (Note: The sirens in the background is NOT a special effect done by us, it’s just the Albuquerque Police chasing somebody outside the performance space).
We perform medieval and traditional ballads. The stories they narrate are often quite ghastly. Death and violence. Tragic love stories. Scary super natural occurrences. But we very often hear the reaction; your songs are so soothing and evoke a magical, enchanted feeling.
All songs, stories, films etc. have a message. However, it might not always be what the author or performer intended.
When I was about 4 years old I stayed with my great aunt for some time one summer. I must have been a willful child, because she told me stories about a little girl called IwantIwantIwant. They all ended badly for IwantIwantIwant. I think in one she ended stuck up in a tall pine in a little airplane. Have forgotten the details... I am sure the intended morale was; don't demand stuff all the time, but I remember sort of admiring IwantIwantIwant. She was kickass! I wanted to be her.
Most art have several messages. Emotions are evoked by melody, rhythm, imagery. What emotions and messages are perceived by each individual can be very personal. It builds on previous expectations and experiences.
While studying dance in India in the 90s I learned about how different ragas and talas, modes and rhythms, can be used to evoke the nine different Rasas or emotions (love and romance, humor, heroics, wonder, violence, compassion, fear, disgust, and peace). I saw many examples of this being expertly employed.
But can we ever be sure what feelings we evoke as we perform? Maybe we have to ask our audience afterwards what they felt. It might be quite interesting.