The big difference between human happiness and sadness? Thirty-seven freakin' vibrations.

Michael Tilson Thomas

Quotation #15633

About This Quote


Source: "Music and Emotion Through Time." TED2012. Mar. 2012. Conference Presentation. Additional Information: This quote is about how emotions are expressed in music -- through vibrations. Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas framed this quote by explaining the difference between two chords, one of which is major (happy-sounding) and the other of which is minor (sad-sounding). The difference, explains Thomas, depends on single note in the chord -- the "happy" chord uses E-natural, which has 659 vibrations per second, while the "sad" chord uses E-flat, which has 622 vibrations per second. All of the other notes in the two chords are the same. Thus, the difference between happiness and sadness, at least in terms of music, is the difference between those two E-notes: 37 vibrations. The quote is from Thomas' 2012 TED Talk about the history of classical music. Watch the full TED Talk here: Michael Tilson Thomas - Music and Emotion Through Time