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zensky's avatar

Music soothes the savage beast. But we aren't all savages anymore - so how much does music actually move soothe you?

Asked by zensky (13357points) January 26th, 2013

Could you live without it?

How many hours of music do you listen to a day/week?

Is there a difference in your music listening because you play/don’t play an instrument?

Musicians: do you listen to music actively – writing down the lyrics/chords/score when trying to learn a new piece?

Do you have a musical ear/perfect pitch?

Were you encouraged as a child to play/sing? How did this affect you?

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26 Answers

tom_g's avatar

I don’t listen to much music anymore (I’m old). I prefer to play music (guitar, piano, etc), but I have very little time for that. I do, however, often have music playing in my head. It isn’t necessarily a song that I have heard. It is usually something that builds slowly and may be influenced (as all art/music is) by existing songs, but often will morph into something completely different.

When I do listen to music, I will always have things in my mind that I use to alter the piece. For example, I may imagine a second guitar or additional percussion. There may be a harmony part or strings where there are none. I’ve always done this, and I prefer my “version” of the song to the one recorded by the artist. A few years ago I admitted that I have always done this and many of my friends and family found it quite odd. Anyway, I have never left a song unaltered in my head. Note: I also pay little attention to the lyrics. I have no use for them.

I was allowed to play in the band when I was a kid (trombone), and later saved up my allowance for a keyboard. Then, the guitar. My parents didn’t necessarily encourage it, but they were supportive.

Could I live without it? External sources? Sure. Internally? Nope.

zensky's avatar

@tom_g Thanks for sharing. You wrote: I’ve always done this, and I prefer my “version” of the song to the one recorded by the artist. A few years ago I admitted that I have always done this and many of my friends and family found it quite odd. Anyway, I have never left a song unaltered in my head. Note: I also pay little attention to the lyrics. I have no use for them.

I am like you in a sense, except I will play with the lyrics a la Weird Al… I’ve written many a parody – alas – none are commercially viable.

It is not, by all means, odd. Great Answer.

Pachy's avatar

Actually, the quote refers to “savage breast,”—beast being a common misquote—but nonetheless, the breast within this beast is definitely soothed by music. excited To answer your questions:

* I could live without it but would not want to. I listen to it every day at work, in the car and at home at night.
* At least 3 hours, more on weekends.
* Alas, I don’t play a musical instrument, though I’m pretty good at picking out songs on the ivories.
* For years I have toyed with the idea of writing songs—at least lyrics—but never tried. Afraid, I guess.
5. I have a pretty good musical ear but can’t read music. I’ve tried to learn but never been able to.
6. My parents were very musical—they intoduced my brother and me to all kinds of music including show music, jazz, classical, pop—but oddly never encuraged us to learn any musical instrument. As an adult I tried to learn how to play piano but did not succeed. I was discouraged when I saw a six-year old deftly playing a classical piece.
* Music absolutely does soothe me, and move me, and excite me, and make me sad, and more. I wake up to classical music and often go to sleep with it. I love hard rock and soft pop. Jazz moves me even as I struggle to understand it. When I’m blue, the Blues is my best friend. When I want to revisit my youth, I love listening to Broadway show music. And when I want to revisit the decade before my youth, the ‘40s, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, the Dorseys, all those Big Band guys sit up front with me in my car. As for Sinatra—and that’s Frankie, not Nancy—life for me would not be worth living without him.

Thanks for the question, @zensky!

zensky's avatar

@Pachyderm_In_The_Room I knew someone would mention the misquote. It has always amused me. For those unaware, and they are the majority, I left the misquote for fear of misunderstanding and derailing of the thread because of boobs breast.~

zensky's avatar

Music has charms to soothe the savage breast


Literal meaning. That literal meaning may be misinterpreted somewhat as this phrase is commonly misreported as ‘music has (or occasionally ‘hath’) charms to soothe the savage beast’. In fact, at the time of writing (Nov 2006) there are twice as many listed for the incorrect version of the phrase as for the correct one.


The phrase was coined by William Congreve, in The Mourning Bride, 1697:

Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.
I’ve read, that things inanimate have mov’d,
And, as with living Souls, have been inform’d,
By Magick Numbers and persuasive Sound.
What then am I? Am I more senseless grown
Than Trees, or Flint? O force of constant Woe!
‘Tis not in Harmony to calm my Griefs.
Anselmo sleeps, and is at Peace; last Night
The silent Tomb receiv’d the good Old King;
He and his Sorrows now are safely lodg’d
Within its cold, but hospitable Bosom.
Why am not I at Peace?

Source, and a source of endless joy, Phrases

starsofeight's avatar

I have attempted to learn the clarinet, guitar, electric guitar, base, mandolin, and melodica. Presently I pick around on a Yamaha keyboard. I very much dislike music in the work place, I prefer a quiet environment that allows me to whistle, hum, or sing whatever comes to mind. I have evolved over the years from pop and rock, through classical, barbershop quartet style gospel, and world, settling in my preferences on Celtic music. I also now compose music, in a sense, on my computer using Acid 7 point something or other. I post my works on Ourstage dot com, and have once come in at number eight in their competitions. I have put the bulk of my works on reverbnation to a fairly favorable response. I like music, and would not even try to imagine living without it—I just don’t want to be forced to hear other people’s music, and some things, like Hip Hop, I don’t even consider to be music. I dislike jazz because it never gets to the point, and country gives me a headache, although I am fond of folk and bluegrass. For all of that, when I compose, I tend to mix my genres.

bookish1's avatar

I guess I could live without music, but it’s hard to contemplate. I’ve never been able to understand people who are indifferent to music. I am very sensitive to music. It can make me rejoice or weep. It is one of the chief things that speaks to me in a movie or video game, even. I am a rhythm and percussion kind of guy, but I love melody as well, and I love to harmonize.

As it says on my profile, Music’s what I need to keep my sanity.

I probably listen to music about 3–4 hours a day. More if I am out driving, or at home writing.

I wouldn’t call myself a musician. I am just a duffer on bass guitar. I’ve never practiced enough. But I was trained in the Suzuki method as a child, and I am very auditory-oriented. I don’t have perfect pitch, but I am very good at playing/singing by ear. I walk around with entire songs and albums recorded in my head. If I can’t listen to a certain song I am thinking of or craving, I can replay the whole thing in my mind. If I hear a favorite song on the radio or at a cafe, I am disappointed when I don’t hear the song that comes next on the album. (What??? You’re going to play freaking “Here Comes the Sun” and not “Because”???!!!)

I used to play music as a child, and I sang in a choir. I don’t think it affected me much at the time, but now, listening to music and singing are two of my favorite things. When I am upset, one of the most effective kinds of therapy for myself is to either listen to music while walking/driving, or to sing out loud.

zensky's avatar

@bookish1 I know of the Suzuki method and it’s a book we had around the house. Please please tell me about your firsthand experience…

Pachy's avatar

@zensky—I knew you knew.

Coloma's avatar

I always have music on in my car, so much so I have worn the paint off of the “seek” button on my steering wheel. lol
I am extremely guilty of station surfing in my car and love to sing my little heart out to a great tune while driving.
I also listen to soothing ethnic and classical instrumentals at bedtime and drift off to lullaby land quickly. Right now I have CD of Toroko Taiwan native music in the CD player next to my bed.

I pick up local, native tune CD’s in my travels. It is SUBLIME and ethereal music. Flutes and other asian native instruments.
Funny enough though I rarely put music on at home other than the bedtime scene, but, I do have gazillions of albums and songs on my computer.
Usually I play music when I am home alone if I am having a few cocktails.

I collect and play ethnic hand drums too and have a Djembe, Bendre, Celtics, Navahos and other hand drums.
In the summers it is great, for 7 summers now I have evening encounters on my deck with the “mysterious sax player” that plays somewhere down the canyon from me on my little mountain. It is so fun! I bang on my drums and he/she responds with a little sax tune.

We go on for hours sometimes. So fun!

bookish1's avatar

@Coloma: Does it look like this when you’re rocking out home alone? ;)

@zensky : I’ll PM you.

Coloma's avatar

@bookish1 Haha, she’s got that “Mrs. Robinson” look to her.
Here’s to you Mrs. Robinson…. :-p

zensky's avatar

@Pachyderm_In_The_Room I knew you knew I knew. And I knew you’d know I’d write this, too.

marinelife's avatar

Tremendously. I love listening to baroque music.

Pachy's avatar

@zensky, absolutely I knew.

gailcalled's avatar

Some music soothes me, and so does some poetry.

@Zensky: Thanks for reminding me of the Congreve verse.

It is one line short of a sonnet; and here’s the last one, couched as a query that triggers a whole new line of investigation.

Why am not I at Peace?

I am reminded of another odd misquote;

“Nymph, in thy orifices be all my sins remembered” does tickle the fancy but it is, correctly:

“Nymoh, in thy orisons be all my sins remembered.” (Last line of Hamlet’s “To Be…” soliloquy.

(This is really much more fun than emptying the litter box and taking stuff to the dump in 10˚.)

Gabby101's avatar

I don’t find music soothing – I find it energizes me. I can fall asleep to tv, but never music. If I go to a classical music recital, I can barely sit through the whole thing because I become so full of energy (and I don’t usually listen to classical). It makes me angry, sad, happy, hopeful, nostalgic, but never calm! Definitely one of life’s joys.

zensky's avatar

@Gabby101 I’m the same that way. TV – snoozefest… music will keep me up all night.

janbb's avatar

@Pachyderm_In_The_Room Did you know I knew too and that I knew you knew too?

Some music soothes me, some music pumps me up. If you came into my kitchen – where I always have music on when I am cooking – you would know what mood I am in from what is playing. My Mom used to say she hated Joan Baez because she knew if I had that on, I was depressed (when I was a teen.) If i’m playing some Bruce Juice or Motown, I am in a good mood; Janis Ian means I’m lonely.

Interestingly, I had a song on last night when a good friend was over fro dinner that I could not listen to all last year without crying and I didn’t cry. Progress! (Janis Ian’s “Jesse Come Home.”

janbb's avatar

@zensky I guess the opera wasn’t over…..

Boy, the stupid judgments we all make and that T.V. re-enforces!

cazzie's avatar

I started working with children again in groups. We may be 2 or 3 adults with about 20 under 5’s under our charge. When the weather is bad or cold and we need to stay in, our refuge is music. The children race to the music corner when we start playing their known favourites and do the familiar hand and body motions with them. What ever toys were being fought over, what ever disagreements or pushing was going on, they stop and run over and join in singing and doing the motions. I can certainly attest to the fact that there is much taming and learning going on with the little ones. :)

Sunny2's avatar

I work at the music I perform, going over the notes and writing the lyrics if I have to memorize them. If it’s particularly difficult, I get together with others to have a private rehearsal. I don’t have perfect pitch, but I can stay on pitch once given it.
We listen to music at home a couple hours a day, mostly classical and jazz.
Could I live without it? I wouldn’t want to. If I had to? It would still be in my head.

cookieman's avatar

I adore music. I grew up with music. My uncle was an amateur jazz pianist. My father was a bit of an audiophile and sang in a blues band. My grandmother loved swing, big band, and standards. Mom even loved Motown and disco.

I grew up listening to many genres and styles over many generations. Of course, I discoved Led Zeppelin and the Who and later, the hair bands.

I was voracious in reading liner notes, researching album cover artists, and (of course) memorizing lyrics.

I scored some drumsticks at a family wedding and my uncle taught me to keep time. Today, I have a pretty good singing voice. Deep, like my father’s.

Songs become about your life. Your friends, your heartbreaks, your successes, and your near misses. Like all good art, songs are complete when you become a part of it.

I don’t keep a diary or journal but so much of my life is tied up in music I could easily assemble an audio tour of the past forty years. At least from the way I see it.

Music is at once self indulgent and endlessly generous – ever changing from interpretation. Different over time, over decades while stubbornly nostalgic and specific.

Off all the wonderful things my wife and I share, music is not one of them. It’s not her thing. I shared it with my dad, but he’s four years gone now. My last job had a no-music rule, so for five years I toiled in silence. I forgot the difference it makes. How it improves your environment and lightens the day.

Recently I started a new job where music and creativity are encouraged. Knowing this, my wife gifted me some great speakers for Christmas. First thing now, while my computer starts up, I plug in and the music plays for seven solid hours. Many hours a week of jazz and blues and rock and classical and whatever else inspires me, keeps me moving, and fills the room with memories in the making.

zenvelo's avatar

I find even a tidbit of music can quiet me. It calms my mind to focus on the tonalities and rhthyms and the timbres. And it can be all over the spectrum.

Today I was walking with my iPod on shuffle and a song from the Who’s Quadrophenia came on, and I realize that while I would never consciously choose a Who album to listen to, the Who have been a sound track for my life.

wundayatta's avatar

I’ve never been a good music listener. I find popular music enormously frustrating. I can’t understand the words to songs, except maybe one word in three, and those words I find very distracting. So I prefer instrumental music or music where the voice is used as an instrument, not to sing words. This has gotten worse as I have aged. My ability to understand words in spoken or sung form with lots of additional sound is severely diminished.

I was never much of a fan of pop music; preferring classical and jazz. But there was a period of my life when I listened to music more, and that was in the decade or so after college.

Still, my life was handed back to me one day by my chiropractor. He had been treating me for an injury I sustained in a car accident. He came over one day, and saw my trumpet case. Since he played trumpet too, he asked me to play, and when he heard how I sounded, he gave me some exercises to bring my lips back into shape.

Since that day more than twenty years ago, I have been playing music more than I listen to recorded music. I play almost every Friday night. Sometimes I play with other configurations of musicians, too. It’s all improvisational music, so I can’t be wrong. And during the time I was sick, it was only for those few hours each week that I could forget who I was, and become pure music. That was the only true relief I got from the deadly black weight of depression.

It did soothe my savage breast and my savage beast who dwelled within my breast. I played no small role in saving my life.

My horn is forty years old now. It is like my wife. Faithful and beautiful. It is now joined by a mistress, my flugelhorn, who is younger and sexier. My trumpet was jealous of the flugelhorn at first, but has come to coexist in a loving way. This is actually not my metaphor, but one I read in the literature about horns when researching which flugelhorn to get. But the feelings between the horns were true. They did not suffer each other well at first.

My wife trumpet is worn so thin, I can’t get it refurbished any more. So one day, a pinhole will appear, and the sound will die. I dare not even give her a bath for fear of what might happen. I suppose when that happens, I may have to buy a new trumpet. That should be interesting.

Music is in my blood and I have tried to pass this feeling on to my children via the piano. My daughter is a singer and pianist. My son is a more skilled pianist who studies with a teacher whose teaching lineage goes back through Liszt to Beethoven, we found out today. Pretty cool.

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