"I love you, I love you, I love you."
This sentiment summarizes hundreds -- nay thousands -- of songs written in the last 100 years.
Here's an interesting factoid from my book: "of the fifty-four 'Song of the Year' GRAMMY awards given since 1959, eighteen of them have been slow tempo love songs."
And that's not even counting the fast love songs.
So why do we use slow tempos to write love songs? That answer actually sheds some light on the nature of Eros love (the Greek word for Romantic Love, one of the four human loves).
Slow tempos allow the musician or the singer -- and the listener -- to savor one of the most powerful forces in music: the tension-release of dissonance. Some music note combinations have far more complex frequency patterns than other combinations. The complex frequency patterns are harder for the brain to analyze, and this creates a sense of friction and even unpleasant tension as you're listening. But then, when the music shifts into simpler frequency patterns (consonance), your brain feels a wave of pleasure as it receives simpler patterns that it analyzes with ease.
This tension-release experience in music is more strongly felt in slow songs because there is more time for the tension-inducing frequencies to linger in space.
It's a provocative illustration of romantic love. When we're desperately in love, just being away from our beloved -- even for a short time -- creates tremendous tension in our emotions and minds. The moment we see their wonderful face and their smile from across the room in that sparkling slow motion, all of the tension releases and melts away. Anyone who has ever been in a long distance relationship or has been separated by their love in some way knows the power of this tension-release experience.
And slow songs, with their ability to stretch the tension-release of dissonance across time and space, are the perfect tools for capturing the achingly sweet melancholy of being in love.
No wonder slow love songs are so popular.