Does Music Really Affect Us?
Sounds… No. Music… Yes! 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?
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. 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.” 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. 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. Maybe the emotional and cognitive effects of music are truly overlooked.
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 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 sense of risk taking. The term grunge even means dirt.
Now let’s 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.
But obviously, if you’re someone who doesn’t like a certain type of music, you would be affected differently. You may be annoyed by grunge if you’re someone who likes RnB Music. But if you do like that certain genre of music, the effects should remain.
Now that we know music definitely has an effect, maybe we can figure out how and why it does. Hearing these instruments and people have an affect on us but what is this weird science behind it all?
McCraty, R. (1998, January). The Effects of Different Types of Music on Mood, Tension, and Mental Clarity. Retrieved from https://www.heartmath.org/assets/uploads/2015/01/music-mood-effects.pdf
Kawakami, A., Furukawa, K., Katahira, K., & Okanoya, K. (2013, May 14). Sad music induces pleasant emotion. Retrieved December 03, 2020, from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00311/full?library=true
Shim, D. (2017, March). MUSIC AND SPORTS – A PSYCHOPHYSICAL EFFECT. Retrieved from https://ijrssis.in/upload_papers/11072017050511112%20sharmila%20Dogra%20133.pdf