THE PSYCHOLOGY OF MUSIC

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF MUSIC

Music is a phenomenon that sees no boundaries, regardless of nationality, race, and culture. It creates emotions and feelings, and it is far more powerful than language, people from different language backgrounds can enjoy the same song even if they do not understand the language. It is a language of emotion, this is most evident in films where a character’s emotion is carried through the music. It is the language of the soul. For thousands of years, people have created songs that inspire, teach or even hypnotize. Our history and culture are closely connected to music.

Perhaps we all listen to music to stir our emotions. Music has the power to arouse the full human range of emotion, from sad, miserable, tense to happy, relaxed, calm, and joyful. This is where the science behind music fits in apparently, music induces a section of the brain that deals with emotions and the channels that transfer pleasure related to listening to music, which is why we sometimes yearn for it. This relationship causes chills that you may experience while listening to music, which is why some songs make the hairs on your arms raise, bring shivers down your spine, or give you goosebumps.

The ‘cognitivist’ position of the brain, implies that the emotion you experience as a listener is a result of emotions that you acknowledge within, the music. The emotion you feel whenever you listen to music is a result of the communicative nature of the music and it is often different from the emotion you usually experience on daily basis. Music stimulates and amplifies emotions. Traditional researchers who study music effects found the relationship between minor modes and sad emotions as well as major modes and happy emotions.

Now you must be wondering how is it possible that a mere song can make you cry, move you and transmit deep emotional messages? 

Scientists state several surprising theories on mechanisms that evoke emotions. Such as the function of memories in emotions induced by music is common to many people: you might have a break-up song which you listen to during that break-up, sometimes the same song might make you emotional again long after the break-up. The Mozart effect proves that classical music makes you smarter, it can raise your IQ by up to 9 points. It boosts spatial reasoning considerably, which is why you might enjoy cracking a maths equation while listening to classical music in the background. If you haven’t tried it, maybe it’s time to play some Mozart when you study. Music therapy helps to repair brain damage.

But did you know that scientists theorize that music may transmit emotional information by putting the mirror neuron system into action? Did you know that your brain is really good at processing songs, even if you have never touched or played an instrument before?

Whenever you interact with someone, many mechanisms are activated that make a connection between you and that person. For example, people frequently unknowingly imitate each other’s position and the way they speak. Emotions are contagious: a study proves that if you look at pictures of facial expressions of emotions, it stimulates the very same muscles in your face which is required to make a similar expression. This is what happens even if the pictures were shown so fast to the viewer.

So Where does the music come in? It is suspected that music is contagious just like how emotions are, emotional expression in music could also be mirrored by the brain and then give rise to a similar emotional state in the listener. For example, music could be perceived as sad because of the commonalities it has with the rhythmic pattern of sad speech (low pitch, low volume, slow, dark timbre). Or your mood might suddenly pump up listening to a song by Davido, which is vibey and faster.

Music is like magic, there is a certain feeling you get, it can be a distraction from anything and everything. Simply put, music shapes lives, makes lives, expresses all shades and stages of life, and even saves lives.

 

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