Can You Make Sad Songs Sound Happy (And Vice Versa)?

By March 12, 2013 KRNN, KRNN Tune IN No Comments
Michael Stipe broods on the cover of R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion" single. Earlier this year, a remarkably cheery-sounding major-key version of the song appeared online. Album cover

Michael Stipe broods on the cover of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” single. Earlier this year, a remarkably cheery-sounding major-key version of the song appeared online. Album cover

Oleg Berg, an engineer and musician in the Ukraine, had a dream as a kid. He wanted to be able to take popular songs, the recordings of which were instantly recognizable, and invert their sound: making major keys minor and vice versa.

Decades later, he has finally done it. Using a variety of music software, he created inverted versions of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” Ella Fitzgerald’s recording of “Summertime” and — his favorite — “Hey Jude” by The Beatles.

Berg isn’t the only musical alchemist of his kind. Earlier this year, a major-key version of ” R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” popped up online. The switcheroo turns what was a mournful ballad into a shiny, happy pop ditty — and that prompts a lot of questions about how the human brain processes music.

To answer some of those questions, All Things Considered turned to Rob Kapilow, a composer, conductor and music commentator. Kapilow says Oleg Berg’s reworking of “Summertime” is a perfect example of the emotional cues presented by a major or minor key.

“One of the things that’s so beautiful about ‘Summertime,’ which is originally in a minor key, is that the words are about, ‘Summertime and the living is easy,’ but there’s a wonderful undercurrent of sadness because the chords are minor,” Kapilow says. “When you put it in major, it actually is easy. And you actually lose all the complexity and that kind of bittersweet flavor of the minor.”


See Original Story

Can You Make Sad Songs Sound Happy (And Vice Versa)?

Recent headlines

  • Juneau residents will vote for three assembly seats and two school board members in the October 7 election. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

    Jamie Bursell appointed to the Juneau Assembly

    "Her focus on education, her focus on examining our city budget at a really deep level, not just a broad stroke policy level, but getting into the line items – I think that’s a really valuable for assembly members to go after the budget work," said Deputy Mayor Jesse Kiehl.
  • Rorie Watt said he's "terribly excited" to be Juneau's next city manager. (Photo by Autumn Sapp)

    Juneau Assembly selects Rorie Watt as next city manager

    "I just think that the manager’s job is the juggler of so many different things. I think it’s just going to be fun. I don’t think it’s going to be easy," Rorie Watt said.
  • Delta's first flight of the summer season touched down in Juneau at 8:49 p.m. May 30 with 120 passengers from Seattle. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

    For Juneau, it’s a good time to fly

    "Juneau to Minneapolis for $361. New York for $365, which is insane. The fares dropped by $100 to $200 overnight. And adjusted for inflation, really, Juneau has never ever seen these exceptional rates," said travel analyst Scott McMurren.
  • North Slope Borough Police SUVs cars

    Barrow Rep. Nageak’s nephew killed in police shooting

    The facts of what happened aren't clear yet. The body is on its way to Anchorage for autopsy, and state investigators were Barrow-bound.


Playing Now: