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wundayatta's avatar

How does music change your conciousness?

Asked by wundayatta (58525points) October 20th, 2011

Music seems to have this weird ability to worm it’s way into your brain, and make you feel different. It can calm you down; it can put you in a trance; it can excite you; it can involve you.

How does it do all that? What kind of impacts do you think music has on your consciousness? Does it affect your brain (if you think brain and conciousness are different)? What’s your experience. What’s your explanation, if you have one.

This was my first fluther question ever. I think it was a good question, but the jellies back then didn’t like it. I don’t know if anything has changed, but it’s worth a try.

And if you still don’t like it, tell me this—does it seem different from the questions I ask now, or is it pretty much a lot like what I ask now?

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9 Answers

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I can’t decide. The fact that this, and the original, both showed up in my “questions for you” at the same time totally confused me.

smilingheart1's avatar

I find soothing music when you need it is irreplaceable on the list of great calmers.

Is it true that classical music was the first music invented?

The malls, shops, tv commericals, dentist’s offices all have this music thing figured. They know how to get your wallet out of your knickers and your tooth of your jaw!

Blackberry's avatar

There was a study showing how music with a faster tempo affected how people exercised (improved). I assume it is the same with other types of music. Sad music can put you in a more melancholy mood, trance can put you in a “trance” etc. I am not sure why it does this.

I know that if I listen to metal when I’m driving, I am more aware, as if my adrenaline has been boosted (I’m sure it has).

Marine/marinelife made the suggestion a long time ago that music may be on a wavelength similar to our brain patterns. I don’t know much about how that would work, but if it was explored more, it could be a viable solution.

wildpotato's avatar

I think the human response to music is hardwired. The form is variable, but I’d argue that all music resonates in some way with any listener, simply because we seem to have a natural sense for things like rhythm, pitch, and scales.

Earthgirl's avatar

I think we respond to music on different levels. I respond most strongly to music on a visceral level. I have found that the music I love most has a parallel in my body movements. I love things that seem to float and crash, spin and twirl, speed up and then come to a grinding halt, sometimes they go up and down like rolling over a hilly landscape, sometimes they go rat a tat in a syncopated stutter like a car speeding over a bumpy road. And all of these things I feel in my body. Sometimes I want to move my hands to the music, or dance and I love to watch how a great conductor just channels the music and relays it through his gestures. And let’s not forget how many songs are beautiful because they mimic the tempo of the human heart. Boom ba boom…
I love cha cha and waltzes. The repetition of that steady beat has a very soothing effect. I love klezmer and gypsy (Romany) music and folk songs because they make me want to dance. I love the way marching band music (of the old sort, not the weird pop songs they do now) lifts your spirits! The beat of the drums, all that brass!!!
How does music do this? I think it is a shorthand way of coding human experience. Even without lyrics music is a translation of human emotions into sounds. It can pull at our emotions because it reminds us of things. Elemental things like a human heartbeat, and more dramatic things like fireworks on the 4th of Jully bursting in the sky. More subtle things like swaying to a beat on the dancefloor. Happy things like a spring day playing hopscotch with the sun beaming down on you. A song can feel like that and bring you back to it just as smells can transport you.

Besides the visceral experiencing of music there is its’ emotional resonance. The sounds and lyrics pull at your heart and mind. You feel what the singer is telling you to feel (if the song is any good and if you are receptive) I love to hear a little catch in the throat, a soaring like the singer is on top of the world and wants to take you there too, simple stupid everyday happiness too! (59th St Bridge song, Feeling Groovy,) I even love Gospel music despite the fact that I am not all that religious. I just love to see a singer like Liz Wright pour out her self and do that thing Gospel singers do, it’s a sort of motion of holding in a tension that is so great that it cannot be expressed. You see it in their arms bent at elbow and their hands emoting this incredible intensity of feeling. You can see they feel it all through their body.

I haven’t even begun to talk about sentimental aspects of music which deeply affect me. I am so sentimental that for every great romance in my life I have songs for all the special days. I know it’s kind of sick. But when I hear a certain song, I think of a certain day. Maybe the song was playing that day or maybe the lyrics came to remind me of it later, but I connect that day with that song and I hold it in my memory as something special. so every time I hear that song I am reminded of a special memory. And of course I have my wedding song and my parent’s wedding song which is the best! Unforgettable by Nat King Cole.

Lyrics are very important to me. I love the fusion of melody with voice poetically expressing emotions.

Lastly I think that music effects us in almost the same way as nature does. I know a song where the banjo reminds me of water trickling over rocks in a brook. And there are many others in all forms of music that do the same. We are keyed into this musical expressiveness and understand it intuitively. It doesn’t take thought so much as openess to the aesthetic qualities inherent in the sounds.

dabbler's avatar

@wildpotato is on to something, I think, “the human response to music is hardwired”.

Vedanta describes the energy centers along the spine as having specific resonant frequencies that (happen to?) correspond to the major scale from C at the base of the spine, D below the navel at one’s “center”, E at the solar plexus, F at the heart, G at the throat, A at the point between the eyebrows, B at the top of the head and C again at the soul star above the head about where your hands are with arms stretched straight up.

The devanagari alphabet, upon which Sanskrit is based, is all about the basic sounds that a human can make. If you have heard some competent Sanskrit chanting you will notice it resonating in you.

Earthgirl's avatar

dabbler: That is really interesting. I wonder if preferring a certain note on the scale means anything. Like, do you live in your heart vs. your head? Do you enjoy music more when it makes you feel a certain way based on what key it is in? I tend to like the minor keys but I have been told that a preference for minor keys is very common. I’d like to read more about the idea that you mentioned.

wundayatta's avatar

Many animals sing or make sounds in the key of D minor. It is a key that is almost universally tuned into and chosen for sad feelings. I learned this from Paul Winter, who did a lot of work with wolves and whales and eagles. He would record their cries and songs and improvise pieces based on them.

dabbler's avatar

@Earthgirl The same (vedanta) tradition holds that specific sorts of thoughts/feelings/ideas/energies resonate with those same energy centers, so probably there is some sort of correlation if you like a certain key. I have wondered how does a composer pick a key for tune? Is there a conscious correlation to some meaning for that key or mostly it feels right ?

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