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?