Definition – BabyGoat

The Effects of Music

Sounds… No. Music… Yes! Music is a language that can connect people from all over. Even if we can’t quite understand the words of a foreigner, we can still hear them. Better yet, we can still feel their music. Music has this weird magical ability to send a message to our brain and  make us react, whether we know the words or not. Is music some type of witchcraft? Should we be worried about the control music has over the human body?

As humans, we have five senses, and we can choose to please all five. With our sight, we like to see pleasing images. For some, that may be a bright sunny day with bright colored flowers. With our sense of smell we may choose the smell of a freshly baked cake before we chose the smell of rotten seafood. Same with taste. Why punish your mouth with the rotten seafood? The ability to feel and touch determines what material we want to touch our skin, and what we think about when we run our fingers down that lizard’s back. Sound. Would you rather listen to a baby cry and scream or would you rather listen to a soft piano playing? Most people would pick that soft piano playing. I say all this to remind you that we can choose to be happy and please all of our senses. And believe it or not, the way we use these senses has an obvious physical affect, as well as mental. 

Tunes. Jam. Bop. Banger. All similes for the collection of sounds we call music. Hearing is the ability to perceive sound. In the world, we have disturbing sounds and we have pleasing sounds. We have good music and we have bad music. But for the most part, that is based on opinion. According to Oxford Languages, music is “vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion.” But isn’t it weird how music can cause most of our senses to react? We obviously can hear and listen to music, but have you heard a song and seen a movie in your head? Has a song brought you back to a happy place where you can feel the energy, raise those hair on your arms? Well, maybe you haven’t smelled or tasted something from a song unless it brings back a specific memory. If so, then music most likely has affected all of your senses before. If music can affect all of these senses physically or mentally, what else does it affect?

Do different types of music have different effects? We have slow music. We have fast music. We have dark music. We have bright music. With research published back in 1998, we have insight on whether the question at hand may be true. In Alternative Therapies Volume 4, Number 1, the test results stated, “With grunge rock music, significant increases were found in hostility, sadness, tension, and fatigue…” also stated, “…after listening to the designer music (music designed to have specific effects on the listener), significant increases in caring, relaxation, mental clarity, and vigor were measured…” We could speculate that this is may be because of various variables. Usually grunge music has a darker tone with harsher instrumentation. And this designer music has brighter instrumentation with a happy tone. Think of grunge music as motocross. Loud sounds of motorcycles, dirty images. A very dirty setting, with a very strong since of risk taking. The term grunge even means dirt. Now lets think of designer music. Maybe a skating rink and arcade would picture this perfectly. The fast paced, happy people in the middle, while there are still some people chilling out the side. The programmed drums and synth sounds are very inviting. While rap music gets a bad rep for the explicitness, we have to wonder, what benefits come from such music? Well, if you think about the image of a rapper, it is one of hard work and success. Most people associate the rapper image with nice cars, a lot of women, and a lot of jewelry. So what might the listener think about? Exactly! Rap music can help promote confidence. Maybe the rawness and flashy music isn’t so negative after all. But what about sad music? Why do people like listening to sad music if sadness is associated with pain? With research done by a group of Japanese collectives, they pronounce that, “the results revealed that although sad music was perceived to be more tragic, listening to sad music actually induced participants to feel more romantic, blither, and less tragic. Thus, the participants seemed to experience ambivalent emotions when listening to sad music. This is possibly because the emotion induced by music is indirect, that is, not induced by personal events, which somehow induces participants to feel pleasure as well.” For something to make us feel more romantic, blither, and ambivalent, we must feel vulnerable. And maybe the feeling of vulnerability in a safe place is what can make us happy. In a society with pressure and expectations, we have the need to be strong. But you can’t be strong 24/7. And maybe this when the need to feel vulnerable comes into play. When you feel vulnerable, you want to be comforted. To feel comforted, you would want someone to be by your side who can understand your pain and will listen to you. Most people would not go out to a party to feel comforted, most people would call that avoiding the issue. So we can think of sad music as an emotional connection. We have the singer as the friend by your side and the instrumentation telling you that it’s human to feel weak. 

Now that we see the relationship between music and emotions, maybe we can figure out how to use it to our advantage. Hearing these instruments and people have an affect on us but what is this weird science behind it all?

The word References appears centered above your references without punctuation and not bold. I appreciate the bitly link. Very nice. But a 1000-word essay for a research paper is likely worth three references AND they must be represented by an appropriate bibliographic citation in the references section, not a mere link.—DSH


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4 Responses to Definition – BabyGoat

  1. davidbdale says:

    Some notes in your post regarding your title and your References section.


  2. davidbdale says:

    BabyGoat, you take too long to get started. I can allow you to budget one paragraph for your Introduction, to replace the three you’re now using, but if you spend more than 150 words to persuade your readers that music appeals to our senses, and that our senses affect our moods, you’ll suffer a grade penalty. We just don’t need that much convincing. I’ve said often in class that most writers do their best work when they cut the material they feel the most affection for. This is such a case. I would further suggest, again as I have often, that you eliminate the rhetorical questions. They’re loaded weapons that most often backfire. Make claims instead of asking questions.


  3. davidbdale says:

    After three paragraphs, you haven’t told us your hypothesis. Apparently, it’s that “different types of music have different effects,” but your apparent lack of confidence in this theory causes you to phrase it as a question. We both need you to lean in hard on this claim, BabyGoat. It’s WAYYY too broad for a short 3000-word argument, but if it is your thesis, you definitely want to own it and prove it without ambivalence. I want to note that your excellent source material, the Frontiers in Psychology study, devoted more than 6000 words to JUST the ways 44 people reacted to “sad” music. It didn’t conclude that the same music affected all people the same way. Instead it hypothesized, and concluded, that subjects with different amounts of musical sophistication would “perceive” and “feel” the music differently (for example, musicians would “perceive” that the music was sad but not “feel” sadness when listening to it). Examining reactions to just ONE type of music (sad classical compositions, just three samples of 30 seconds each—a minute and a half of music in total) required a paper of 6500 words to analyze and describe. The sense I get of where your paper is headed is that you’re planning to cover a wide range of reactions to a wide range of musical types. In just 3000 words. You’d be much better off spending more words on fewer examples.


  4. davidbdale says:

    While I was reading your brief treatment of the experience of listening to grunge (prejudiced by the citation that indicated somebody measured “significant increases in hostility, sadness, tension, and fatigue”) compared to “designer music,” I anticipated the conclusion drawn by the Frontiers researchers, that different listeners would have profoundly different reactions to the same music. Of the 4 Hypotheses in the Alternative Therapies study, the one worth 3000 words, for my money, would be #4: “Teenagers will be less positively affected by classical music and less negatively affected by grunge rock music than will adults.” That’s the equivalent of saying: want to anger your parents? make them listen to Pearl Jam for an hour. Want to anger your teens? Make them listen to Shostakovich. Even though it’s the most inventive hypothesis, it’s still pretty obvious, isn’t it?

    I hope you’ll be able to find a narrower focus for your argument than the very broad: music affects us in different ways, BabyGoat. Stay alert, while you consult your sources, for the narrower hypothesis that can be thoroughly investigated in the very small space of 3000 words.


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