View Poll Results: Do you experience frisson (chills running down your spine, brain tingles) from music?

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  • Yes, often

    9 47.37%
  • Yes, sometimes

    7 36.84%
  • Yes, rarely

    1 5.26%
  • No, not that I remember

    2 10.53%
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Thread: Frisson and opera

  1. #1
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    Default Frisson and opera

    Frisson is a french loanword that refers to shivers running down the spine in response to strong emotional stimuli -- most often music but also from other arts. I read a fascinating paper about it: http://www.cogsci.msu.edu/DSS/2008-2...ronFrisson.pdf
    The entire paper is worth a read, but in short opera may be well suited to the experience of frisson because the operatic voice is trained to produce a great deal of energy in the 1000 - 3000 hz range, which happens to also be the range of infant cries and the human scream. To be sure, those are unpleasant sounds, but there's another factor involved in opera -- we know there's no danger or problem, unlike a baby crying or if someone is screaming. So this creates a response similar to a roller coaster -- there's the thrill and fright accompanying the initial effect, but our rational mind knows that everything is operating just as it should and we can revel in the "danger" without any of the risk.

    Of course with opera, there is also the fact that the singers are trained to produce this range of sounds in the most beautiful way possible -- the sheer skill involved is another contributing factor.

    The paper goes on to speculate that sensitive individuals are more likely to experience frisson than "thick-skinned" types, and women are more likely to experience frisson than men (which may go along the same lines). Which kind of makes sense -- how many "tough guy" types do you know who are into opera? If they can never experience frisson, opera literally sounds like people screaming. That gives me a bit more sympathy for people who don't like opera -- perhaps they literally can't.

    Anyway, I was curious as to what proportion of people here experience frisson. I'd guess there's a fairly high percentage among opera fans but do answer honestly
    -Ian

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  3. #2
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    No... it's not about the brain... opera touches my... very spirit...

    how many "tough guy" types do you know who are into opera?
    Only one <lights a match by rubbing it against stubble on his face>

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    Senior Member Bellinilover's Avatar
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    I've had that happen before, most recently while listening to Jonas Kaufmann sing "Dio, mio potevi scagliar" from Otello on his new Verdi CD. I felt as though the hair was standing up on the back of my neck.

    I've also had tears spring into my eyes while listening to opera. You know in Madama Butterfly, right after the "Tu! Tu! piccolo Iddio" intro and before the start of the aria itself, how there's that little "surge" in the orchestra? Well, the first time I ever heard that, tears came into my eyes, and now it happens every time I hear that part -- so I'm afraid that it's not very genuine anymore and is more like a conditioned response.

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    I get shivers in that part of saint francis when he kisses the leper, I don't know why that is the main example I can think of but it always sets me off.

    also the liebestod of course!

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    Nope... Guess I'm of the "tough guy" type kind.

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    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    I cry a lot. Often. Last time was in the letter scene of Eugene Onegin, sung by trebs. Usually I cry in Lensky's aria but Piotr Beczala didn't do it for me (Pavol Breslik always does).

    But the shivery bits - mainly, funnily enough, in Wagner. When I hear the first chords of Siegfried's funeral march, I can see the hairs on my arms raise up. It's rather weird.
    Natalie

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    Experienced multitudes of shivery bits all through the Met Parsifal last spring...and I cried through the entire third act.

    And, JK singing Otello- oh yes, shivers, hair on end, heart palpitations, involuntary exclamations...the lot.
    Last edited by Rackon; Nov-04-2013 at 05:56.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rgz View Post
    how many "tough guy" types do you know who are into opera?
    Clearly, you haven't seen what's on at Salzburg next year.




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    Senior Member MAuer's Avatar
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    I can sometimes get choked up by a particular scene (the final one in Faust, sentimental as it is), or feel bowled over by gorgeous singing. And after a great Fidelio, I will feel simultaneously charged up and emotionally drained (if that's possible). But that's about the extent of my usual reactions to opera.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post
    Usually I cry in Lensky's aria but Piotr Beczala didn't do it for me (Pavol Breslik always does)
    You people have outrageous expectations towards singers. First you want them to sing, them to act as well, now we hear a person complaining that Beczała didn't cry for her. What's next, "I'm disappointed with that tenor, he didn't applaud himself at the end and I had to go crazy about how he sung myself!"?
    Last edited by Aramis; Nov-04-2013 at 20:01.

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    Senior Member Bellinilover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aramis View Post
    You people have outrageous expectations towards singers. First you want them to sing, them to act as well, now we hear a person complaining that Beczała didn't cry for her. What's next, "I'm disappointed with that tenor, he didn't applaud himself at the end and I had to go crazy about how he sung myself!"?
    I think what Mamascarlatti was saying was that she didn't cry during Beczala's performance, not that Beczala himself wasn't emotional enough.

    But -- and this has nothing to do with Mamascarlatti now; I'm just making an observation -- when I don't respond emotionally to a singer's performance, the first thing I have to remind myself is that maybe I'm just not in the right mood. In other words, I have to stop myself from automatically blaming the singer for my lack of emotional response. I can't even count the number of opera CDs and DVDs I now love that failed to thrill me the first time I experienced them.

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    Senior Member sospiro's Avatar
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    I get very emotional when I see something live and I can hear how much of themselves a singer is putting into their performance. Like Simon Keenlyside in the Wozzeck I saw recently (must do review).
    Ann

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    Music has but one purpose - to make the listener feel something (anything) on an emotional level.
    It doesn't necessarily have to be frisson (my new word for the day) but it has to be something or it's just pointless.

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  23. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Couac Addict View Post
    Music has but one purpose - to make the listener feel something (anything) on an emotional level.
    It doesn't necessarily have to be frisson (my new word for the day) but it has to be something or it's just pointless.
    Now, the good thing about opera sub-forum is that most of those people willing to quote this and arouse another pointless discussion about what music "should" do are staying away from it.
    Last edited by Aramis; Nov-05-2013 at 12:33.

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    There's no need for discussion when I'm right.

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