Though this doesn't seem to apply to all music genres, I get the impression that some of them have an "underlying mood".

For instance, flamenco (the genre I specialize in) has strong melancholy undertones. Even the "happiest" forms (or "palos") of flamenco seem tinged with sadness. In other words, a "happy" flamenco piece will still sound more melancholy than a "sad" gipsy jazz piece, for example.

I'm somewhat familiar with the concept of rasa in Indian music. However, I was wondering if Western music had a term of its own to describe this. The term "mood" doesn't seem to suffice (since you could describe the mood of, say, an alegrias as upbeat even if there are strong melancholy overtones).

  • Looks like there was a misunderstanding here, you are correct that the word for "underlying mood" is not the same as identifying a specific mood. I've cleaned up the comments.
    – user28
    Feb 16, 2016 at 19:00

1 Answer 1


No. The "underlying mood" is in the ear of the beholder. Music theory is designed to tell you what and why, but not tell you the mood or feeling associated with it. That's for the listener to fill in and typically based on cultural influence.

With theory though you can analyze what goes on and find out what about the music is "sad", "happy", ect to you. However there is nothing in music theory terminology wise that depicts mood in any way whatsoever.

  • 1
    I don't understand why this answer has two downvotes and yet no-one has been able to come up with an answer stating anything else. I too was going to (tentatively) give a 'no' answer of sorts. Feb 16, 2016 at 22:42

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