I’ve always loved music – the feeling, the vibe, the rhythms. Music can be overwhelming and evoke a variety of emotions. It’s an incredible outlet and can overload your senses. Nostalgia can play a significant part, too, with each song having its own story and message. The cool thing is when we can relate our own story or narrative – it’s magic! There are so many songs that speak to me.
That’s why I love music so much. It’s an art form that can make you feel all kinds of emotions, like movies and videos. Music can make you laugh, cry, give you a burst of adrenaline, and help you blow off some steam. It creates introspection and reflection. Music is designed to invoke an emotional response by seeking patterns. Musical scales follow a mathematical pattern that our brains latch onto, and these patterns create reactions that simulate experiences – often tied to memories.
Sound waves have been significant to humanity and nearly every other non-microscopic species. And so much so that humans have ears with a dedicated portion of their brains to process and interpret these sounds. Lion’s roar? Lightning strike? Something in the woods near your campsite? A baby crying? Recognizing these sounds is critical to survival, and one of the predominant reasons we have emotions drive what we do to help us survive and balance pure intellectual thought.
How this translates into music is relative and learned. What part of your life and context did you first or most often hear the particular song or music? Who were you with? What were you doing? But some of music is inherent to humanity – all individuals. Music has been a universal feature across all human cultures throughout history.
People can easily get emotional from music; major progressions make us happy, and minor progressions make us sad. Certain songs, in particular, will build emotions – some people will even be brought to tears. They may not even be sad; however, an overwhelming load of emotions bursts into the brain. Some music can make you feel like you can’t breathe, which is when these emotions are about to reach their max. The feeling can be highly euphoric as if there’s nothing on Earth except yourself and your thoughts.
Music can instantaneously change your emotional state. Some people gravitate to music that makes them excited. I like fast and loud with a good beat when working out and running. I literally can lift heavier when listening to certain songs. This type of music can boost energy (like an espresso shot), feelings of power, and adrenaline – you feel like you can take on the world when listening to it.
Now, the blues can grab ahold of your chest and give it a squeeze. Sounds in folk and country can make you feel like you’re driving through a wheat field on a sunny day. Music can even put you into a hypnotic dream state. You can let go of reality and get into the song. It can transcend the listener to a deeper level of feeling, almost euphoric.
Music can cause chills to shoot from the back of my neck and flow like an electric wave through my body to my fingertips and toes! When listening to a piece that I find incredibly profound or beautiful, I get spine tingles, and my hair will stand on end (aka frisson, skingasm). You’re fortunate if you can experience music this way because only about 55% of people do.
Perhaps a piece of music causes a rush of emotion enough to create a lump in your throat – you’re struck by the beauty of the music. Some songs may make you cry no matter what you’re doing or feeling before the song – which some people think is weird that they may cry when a song is clearly not sad. A perfect example is how classical movements may move a listener to tears, which is an incredible feeling.
The music doesn’t need to be sad for tears to start rolling. When I can physically feel the intention behind a melody, no matter the meaning, it always reminds me of how sweet life can be, grounds me, and makes me appreciate the innate beauty of our emotions. Music is really the language of the soul.
“Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul” is a quote by Plato. Fascinatingly enough, Plato thought music should be heavily censored because he believed it greatly influenced people’s base beliefs. Socrates was more forgiving towards its use but agreed with Plato on its influence on people.
Sounds in music can make you take you to a specific place and time – you clearly remember places, smells, and memories that you haven’t thought of for years. I would love to understand more about this because evoking these memories and feelings isn’t isolated to the lyrics. Something in the musical composition becomes tangled with specific emotions in the brain.
An old friend once said that music permits you to feel the feelings you want. Music invites you to step into those emotional spaces and speaks directly to your soul. Music is one of the most amazing facets of life — now go let some music speak to you and fill the silence in your life.