Storytelling with Music


Music does not just tell a story; it conjures up emotions and imagery which stirs the soul. On 8 January 2020, Ms Pang Siu Yin, Deputy Director with the Singapore Symphony Group, discussed music’s evocative powers and how music can be used to tell a compelling and emotive story.

Ms Pang began her talk by asking the audience to identify snippets of musical arrangements that she shared. The audience quickly associated these snippets, though short, with the movies they came from. The ability to make these quick associations highlighted the evocative nature and power of music; an association and power that certainly contributed to the movies’ continued popularity.

Ms Pang went on to share with the audience some common musical cues used by composers and musicians to connote specific emotions, and how, as listeners, we have subconsciously come to associate certain musical compositions with specific emotions. To highlight her point, she played excerpts from Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. Each of the five movements adopted different musical techniques that evoked in the audience different emotions and associations with nature.

She introduced Janelle, a flutist from the Singapore National Youth Orchestra, who gave a recital of selected pieces. She performed the opening of “Morning” from Peer Gynt Suite, demonstrating how a change of pitch and speed can paint in the listeners mind a picture of the sun rising.

Ms Pang concluded her talk by sharing with the audience how music is an integral part of our lives. Music has the ability to conjure up images and elicit emotions, a fact often used by businesses in the composition of jingles and even mobile phone ringtones.

The event ended with Ms Pang addressing questions from the audience, which included how teachers can motivate children to appreciate music more and the importance of imagination

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