Sunday, 12 October 2008

Happy Sad

On the 24th October DJ Hojo Hits and The B of the Bang will present a DJ set entitled ‘Happy / Sad’ at The Hong Kong Gardeners Club at the Havana Bar, Southsea, Portsmouth. Happy / Sad is not a full playback of the third Tim Buckley album. Neither is it the Gemma Hayes song of the same name played over and over again. No, Happy / Sad is simply DJ Hojo Hits playing happy songs, and The B of the Bang playing sad ones, on the basis that DJ Hojo Hits was born from the Bestival Internet Forum, where he ran a successful campaign to play happy sounding 80’s pop star Howard Jones tunes in the Bestival Hidden Disco, whereas The B of the Bang is known as an artist that plays songs that have a darker, sad mournful quality.

DJ Hojo Hits is of course, actually, if you haven’t guessed by yet, me.

On face value, this would all sound very simple. All I have to do is play an hour of happy songs, alternating with The B of the Bangs sad. Easy. Or is it ? For what exactly is a happy song ? And what exactly is a sad song ?

Brigham Young Universities Susan Kenney defined happy and sad songs following research by the universities psychology Professor Flom, which found that by the age of nine months babies were categorizing songs as happy or sad the same way that preschoolers and adults do. She said that the happy songs used in the research were all in major keys with fairly short phrases or motives that repeated. The tempo and melodic rhythms were faster than any of the sad selections, and the melodies had a general upward direction. Four of the sad songs were in minor keys and all had a slower beat and long melodic rhythms.

Now this definition may be fine for babies, but DJ Hojo Hits is playing for adults, until of course the inner child comes out after a few pints of lager. And adults are more complex beings. Our emotions toward music of happiness and sadness can be triggered by a whole variety of stimuli such as the environment in which we hear the music, musical preferences defined from past experiences, our reactions to new sounds, the use of stimulants, lyrics, tones, beat, etc etc. What for one person is a very happy song, to another is very sad. Take The Ronettes I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine, which has been covered by Beth Orton, a song which lyrically is full of aching pain, and is sung with such sorrow, but because of its orchestral arrangement and soaring chorus makes me feel uplifted and happy every time I hear it.

Joe Brown once wrote “If you look at something as being scary, it is scary. If you look at someone as pretty, they are pretty. The trick is to look at sad, as happy.” And there I believe is the answer to my Happy / Sad dilemma. Even when things are sad I do try to look for the positive and that is why to my ears the majority of my CD‘s sound happy. If the song makes me happy, it can go in my part of the set. Even if it sounds sad to everyone else. This is my happy, and The B of the Bang's sad. It may not be anyone else’s but hopefully DJ Hojo Hits will spin a few tunes that will bring a smile to peoples faces.

Here is a happy song ! Might just play this one !


Bucklberry said...

Happy Sad is actually Tim Buckleys third album, not Jeffs, as he died before releasing his second even ;)

Robin said...

Ooops! Many thanks for that. Not quite sure how that error slipped through. Have now corrected !