Instrumentation and Emotion

Mariah Carey

Lesson time 09:27 min

Lyrics aren’t the only way to communicate with listeners. Working with the string ensemble, Mariah demonstrates how instrumentation can express emotion—in this case, love and longing, or “the misery,” as she calls it.

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Topics include: Instrumentation and Emotion


[MUSIC PLAYING] MARIAH CAREY: As a songwriter, the instrumentation of your songs can communicate as much emotion as your lyrics. Working with a quartet, I'm going to accentuate the background vocals I've recorded with Brandy and focus on how you can express emotion through instrumentation. Let's get into it. - One, two. [ORCHESTRA PLAYS] - Yes. Even (SINGING) mm, mmm, like-- - Very exaggerated, yeah. ORCHESTRA MEMBER: It's a lot like sign. - Yeah. Yeah. MARIAH CAREY: I just want to hear it. - It's real. - You've gotta feel it in your heart. - Feel it in your soul. - The soul stirring. - The soul stirring. ORCHESTRA MEMBER: OK. Like somebody died or something, right? - No. They didn't die. They just love somebody. DANIEL: - They just love somebody, and they're sad. ORCHESTRA MEMBER: Longing, the longing, the longing of it. DANIEL: Yeah. MARIAH CAREY: It's the longing. It's the misery. I call it misery. I call it misery ORCHESTRA MEMBER: Yes. DANIEL: Here we go. ORCHESTRA MEMBER: OK. - So one, [SNAPS FINGER] two. [SNAPS FINGER] [ORCHESTRA PLAYS] - How about, (SINGING) ohh, hum? That's the backgrounds we're doing. [MUSIC - MARIAH CAREY, "THE ROOF"] (SINGING) Me to turn away, but I just had to say-- DANIEL: Two, three, four. One, two-- MARIAH CAREY: Things like how fast you play, or using vibrato and intonation, can help you communicate different feelings to your listener. [MUSIC - MARIAH CAREY, "THE ROOF"] (SINGING) I was twisted, my desire for you, my apprehen-- - Can we go, (SINGING) and I was twisted. - Mm-hmm. [ORCHESTRA PLAYS] MARIAH CAREY: (SINGING) Da, da,da, dee, tee. Yes! [ORCHESTRA PLAYS] If we can listen to the B, G, Vs. - Mm-hmm. - (SINGING) And I was twisted. Yeah, there are two lines in the background vocals of "The Roof" that convey how I was feeling in the moment. [MUSIC - MARIAH CAREY, "THE ROOF"] (SINGING) And I was lifted. - Brandy. And-- [MUSIC - MARIAH CAREY, "THE ROOF"] (SINGING) And I was twisted. - Well-- [ORCHESTRA PLAYS] --we have (SINGING) twisted. You know, we have Brandy. WOMAN: Mm-hmm. - [ORCHESTRA PLAYS] DANIEL: Mm-hmm. MARIAH CAREY: "I was twisted" was the misery, as I call it. It was longing. And I want to convey that with this new string arrangement. Can it go. Daniel. Can it go, a little beat before the (SINGING) daa? - Gotcha. - Yeah. [ORCHESTRA PLAYS] (SINGING) Ohh. Yes, yes. [ORCHESTRA PLAYS] Yeah. Yeah. - - Yeah. Yeah. [ORCHESTRA PLAYS] (SINGING) Huh, ohh. [ORCHESTRA PLAYS] Yeah. Yes. [ORCHESTRA PLAYS] - But put-- - Yes. - --the C on 4. [ORCHES...

About the Instructor

With a five-octave range and soaring whistle tones, Mariah Carey reigns as the “Songbird Supreme.” Now, for the first time, she’s opening up her studio to show you her creative process. Learn how she uses her iconic voice to write songs, collaborate, and produce—and discover how some of her biggest hits were made. Draw inspiration from Mariah’s journey and connect with the power of your own voice and vision.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey invites you into her studio to share her process. Learn how she uses her iconic voice to create, collaborate, and express a vision.

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