Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Musical weather shows climate influence

Date:
September 27, 2011
Source:
University of Oxford
Summary:
Scientists have cataloged and analyzed depictions of weather in classical music from the 17th Century to the present day to help understand how climate affects how people think.

Scientists at the Universities of Oxford and Reading have catalogued and analysed depictions of weather in classical music from the 17th Century to the present day to help understand how climate affects how people think.

Dr Karen Aplin, of Oxford University's Department of Physics, and Dr Paul Williams, from Reading University's Meteorology Department, both combine careers as atmospheric scientists with a love of classical music. Dr Aplin was inspired by the regular portrayal of weather-related phenomena in orchestral music she has played, she said: 'as all music lovers know, the hint of a distant storm from a drum roll can be just as evocative as the skies depicted by Constable and Monet.'

The researchers were so convinced that classical music is influenced by climate that they pursued this pilot study in their own spare time, outside of their normal scientific work. A report of their study is published on 23 September in the journal Weather.

Dr Williams said: 'We found that composers are generally influenced by their own environment in the type of weather they choose to represent. As befits the national stereotype, British composers seem disproportionately keen to depict the UK's variable weather patterns and stormy coastline.'

The research showed British composers easily lead the way with musical weather, followed by the French and the Germans.

Generally, the most popular type of weather represented in music is the storm, presumably because of the use of storms by composers as an allegory for emotional turbulence, such as in Benjamin Britten's Four Sea Interludes from the opera Peter Grimes.

Wind was found to be the second most popular type of weather to feature in music. Wind can have a variety of characters, from a gentle breeze rustling the trees, as in the beginning of the third movement of Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, to a full-blown Antarctic gale, as in Sinfonia Antarctica by Vaughan Williams.

The research also charts the development of musical instruments as aids to evoke a particular sound, for example a thunder sheet or wind machine, and the effect weather had on composers.

Strauss needed both sunshine and the Alpine landscape to inspire him. Several other composers, such as Berlioz, Schubert and Wagner, were also dependent on fair weather conditions, associated with high pressure, for their best output. Wagner, for example, referred to 'bad-weather unemployment' and wrote: 'This is awful weather. My work has been put aside for two days, and the brain is stubbornly declining its services.'

The study provides a baseline of cultural responses to weather before climate change. It seems inevitable that our changing climate will influence artistic expression: will UK composers writing music for a 2050 Proms programme still be interested in representing our warmer, wetter weather? The team believe their research will provide a basis for comparison.

'Meteorological phenomena in Western classical orchestral music', by Karen Aplin and Paul Williams, is published in the journal Weather on 23 September 2011.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Oxford. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Oxford. "Musical weather shows climate influence." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110926224553.htm>.
University of Oxford. (2011, September 27). Musical weather shows climate influence. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110926224553.htm
University of Oxford. "Musical weather shows climate influence." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110926224553.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) — For months California has suffered from a historic drought. The lack of water is worrying for farmers and ranchers, but for gold diggers it’s a stroke of good fortune. With water levels low, normally inaccessible areas are exposed. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — With only three weeks until Minnesota's fishing opener, many are wondering if the ice will be gone. Some of the Northland lakes are still covered by up to three feet of ice, causing concern that just like last year, the lakes won't be ready. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niño Event This Year

Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niño Event This Year

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — With Pacific ocean water already showing signs of warming, the NOAA says there's about a 66 percent chance the event will begin before November. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — South Korean officials say North Korea is preparing to conduct another nuclear test, but is Pyongyang just bluffing this time? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins