General Question

nebule's avatar

Why do specifics types of music appeal to us?

Asked by nebule (16457points) January 25th, 2009

WHat is it in different genres of music that appeals to us?

e.g. if you like pop-electronic music and you say you like it because of the beat or the timbre or lyrics etc… what is it about that that makes you happy or sad, good, bad, interested? Why do you like it?

Is it the way it makes you feel?
Why does it make you feel like this?
How does it do this?
Why can i listen to something and think it is simply amazing only for someone else not to understand how great it is?

Does this make any sense…because i’m not sure even the question makes any sense to me???

note to self:- work on question phrasing…

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27 Answers

cage's avatar

I love alternative-proggy-rocky music. Muse, interpol, Biffy Clyro, Futureheads, Klaxons…
I just like the fact it’s different, intelligent. Noone else sounds like it and they all sound different.
Muse have given me chills thanks to full out moshing guitar solos and floating interludes. It has the ability to make me feel happy and sad.
I’ve always considered a lot of the music I love to be ‘epic’ in that it’s a very powerful song or it has moment that give you a ‘rush’ of, in a way pride, that this is your favourite piece.
Some people hate muse, and I respect that, as long as they respect the fact I love it.

I think if we knew the real answer to this question I wouldn’t get people coming up to me all the time going “muse are shit” because they’d understand.

steelmarket's avatar

My observation is that a person’s choices in music are significantly influenced by their exposure to music as a child. Kids who do not have an early exposure to a wide variety of music often remain oblivious all their lives to the bulk of musical styles.

cage's avatar

@steelmarket hmm, dunno if I agree with that. My brother made me listen to punk. My Mum enjoyed Mo-town and my Dad has always loved Bruce Springsteen.
Non of which (except a small amount of punk) appear in my iTunes.

steelmarket's avatar

Understood. I’m talking exposure, which just give you the choice of whether to explore further. You got whacked on da head.

mea05key's avatar

I am influenced by my parents. They love 80s music esp. sentimental ones. Therefore I love this kinda music since when i was young. I am never into those teenagers music like pop, alternatives etc.

Blondesjon's avatar

I think music creates new, neural pathways in the brain. Like a network of roads and highways, the pathways sometimes merge with larger, more established trails that lead to pleasure centers. This is also true of paths that merge and run to more negative destinations. This is why you have music you just love and music that you can’t stand.

I guess I could have just said, “There’s no accounting for taste.”

aprilsimnel's avatar

I grew up on gospel, 60s and 70s R&B, funk, dance music and a little rap from its’ beginnings, mostly gospel. There was a smidgen of rock I heard as a very little girl, but I lurved it from the get-go! While there is something I like in almost every genre, I don’t listen to every genre equally.

The one I like the best is rock, though. I couldn’t tell you why. The older I got, the more I exposed myself to it. I blame John and Paul.

Bluefreedom's avatar

My parents raised me and my brothers on a lot of 60’s and 70’s music and I listened to all kind of 80’s music in high school so that is where most of my musical leanings come from.

For me, the 70’s music is my biggest favorite and it’s a combination of things I like such as the song lyrics, the individual sounds of different bands, and different genres of music for variety.

Everyone has their own distinctive tastes and nuances in what they like and that is what makes us all unique in one way or another. Sometimes I’ll put aside all my favorite music and opt for Jazz (something my mother turned me on to later in life) which I find relaxing and appealing.

tennesseejac's avatar

i dig all types of music (but im not your typical listener). if i think the artist is talented then i will give it a chance. usually it depends on what type of mood im in… lately ive been in a depressing phase so im sticking with the slower (non electric) type where the artist is pouring out their soul.

introv's avatar

I will listen to just about anything. The only time I don’t like music is when it fails to move me in any way… physical or mental – so its not that I can’t appreciate its structure or it’s merit but rather that it (or the artist) simply has nothing to say to me. Although I suppose that’s obvious a lot of the music I like is attached to memories and the more powerfully the music resonates with me the more likely it is to attach.

I also shift the type of music I like and listen to based on how I’m feeling. If I’m feeling angry I will listen to heavy rock, lots of guitars, happy and its lots of pop or electronic music.

nebule's avatar

this question is actually beginning to scare me now

do we really think then that we like certain types of music just because of our influences? surely there is more to it that that no?

is it a comfort thing? coming home?

association by;
the beat of our hearts…as specific times?
specific rhythms of blood flow?
words that have deep hidden meaning within out memory banks?
specific pitches that resonate because they remind us of the sound of our mother’s voice when we were a child?


cage's avatar

@lynneblundell I discovered muse by myself. I started to love muse by myself. I was ridiculed for loving muse all by myself.

I don’t think you need influences elsewhere in your life to discover good music.
In fact it was the opposite for me.
Muse influences other things I do.

introv's avatar

@cage Who ridiculed you for liking Muse? Whats wrong with them? I mean I feel fairly certain that the problem is at their end. ;)

@lynneblundell A connection to the artist / composer in some way perhaps? That connection can come from any number of different sources even if its only that they project the happiness that you want to feel.

cage's avatar

@introv my friendship groups. If it’s not their thing then fair enough.

nebule's avatar

@introv “connection” can you be more specific please? and “sources” all very…wishy washy…for want of a better description ;-)

introv's avatar

@lynneblundell I believe the reason for liking or disliking anything is an emotional one. With music it is often that the artist is projecting an emotion that we want to feel in a way that we understand it. Someone else will not want that emotion or will misunderstand the artists intention.

Our reasons for liking the music can come from any of our experiences. I love certain artists because I was introduced to them by my brothers and it stuck with me very much to this day. Other stuff I have discovered myself, but all of it moves me in some way.

So it’s almost impossible to cite all the influences that might be present in someones life that will allow them to make that connection with the artist or composer and it’s also impossible to describe exactly why we like certain music – just as it can be very difficult to understand why one person can love a person that someone else hates.

And the same goes for why certain music makes us feel a certain way. For each individual it will be a host of different things and a certain piece of music can be liked for many different people for many different reasons AND make them feel different things. Wicked isn’t it!

steelmarket's avatar

Comfort has a lot to do with what I listen to on a given day. Comfort (familiarity) drives the playlists on some radio stations. Seasonal music (i.e. Christmas) is all about comfort. A lot of event music (church, weddings, graduations) is about comfort and affirmation. Not a bad thing, just the way we are wired.

The other end of the spectrum is music that takes us way out of our comfort zones. Sometimes we want to go outside our comfort zones. But, in general, most music that we label “I don’t like that” falls here.

And, there is a lot in between. Music has a profound effects on us that we seldom consciously realize.

lifeflame's avatar

It’s an interesting, I think, of thinking of what types of energy different music provoke. The most accesible types of music, e.g., pop, rock are usually the ones with a strong beat, which appeal to the primal center—i.e., the lowest common denominator.

Perhaps the type of music we are attracted to has to do with energetically, what we are seeking for at that moment in life. Certainly, if I’m tired, I’ll put on something upbeat to wake me up. However, if I need to think, I’ll put on something that flows without that doesn’t disturb my thought; or something that puts me in the mood I want to be in. On broader terms, I think we might go through different genres of music at different stages of our lives because that type of music seemed better to express what we were going through or the type of person we wanted to be.

The other thing is I think our music tastes do change when we learn to listen to different music. When we become more sensitive (attune to certain subtleties), then we relate to the piece of music in different ways…


For those of you who are interested in the relationship between energy and music, I read something once from Ken Wilber about different types of music resonating with different chakras.

He suggests that:
Rap music = survival music, chakra 1 (base)
Rock music = chakra 2 (sex + power)
Jazz music like Parker, Miles, Wanton = chakra 3 to 4
Romantic composers like Chopin or Mahler = chakra 4 (heart chakra)
Hadyn, later Beethovan, Bach, Mozart = 5 to 6

Not sure if I agree; I need to think about this more, but I thought it might be interesting to share…

nebule's avatar

@lifeflame yes…now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty (for want of a technical term lol) this does interest me greatly… will be having a more in-depth look at this area of musical stimulation me thinks! thanks x

90s_kid's avatar

90’s music all the way. I like only a few new millenium songs. HATE techno and pop-rock crap like Miley Cirus or something.

Jeruba's avatar

I like music to have an evident structure and not seem random; I like a strongly melodic quality and harmony; I like it to be clean and rich, usually without a lot of elision or blue notes, and I dislike much percussion unless percussion is what it’s about. Put a beat behind a piece of music that does not need a beat (a hymn, a Christmas carol) and I will turn it off in disgust.

Above all I want it to be beautiful.

I like classical music and not jazz, opera and not country. I also like a lot of traditional folk music from all over the world, including English, Irish, Scottish (I adore bagpipes!), Western European, Russian, Indian, and African. And I loved American folk music of the sixties.

Sometimes I like music to go down easy, like Debussy and Satie, or be deliriously romantic, like Puccini or Tchaikowsky, but I also like music to be thrilling and uplifting and exciting and glorious. In certain moods I love for it to be large and dark and cathartic. Opera is wonderful for this. And there’s hardly ever a mood so dark that a heavy session with Orff or Wagner won’t purge the poison.

I have also sat with my sons at different stages of their growing up and asked them to play for me some things that they liked and explain to me what they liked about it. That is how I came to listen to and learn a little bit about appreciating some contemporary groups and styles from reggae to Sarah McLaughlin, from Third Eye Blind to Marilyn Manson (whose remarkably intelligent and moving autobiography I have also read), that I would never have listened to otherwise.

In all cases I want music to take me someplace, to feel it move through me and carry me along with it. It’s not background noise or company or avoidance of silence (I love silence). It’s an experience. Just as with reading a poem or spending time in front of a painting, just as with reading a great story or seeing a terrific movie, I want to feel afterward as if I’d been through something. I want to feel a little different on the other side.

nebule's avatar

@Jeruba wow, your musical tastes sound very eclectic in a way, and in each way you seem to connect with what i am so interested in – the feeling that moves through you… the energy. It’s surprising to hear that you like bagpipes and yet also more serene music such as Puccini, although not opera. Very refreshing and thought provoking x

Jeruba's avatar

@lynneblundell, I love opera! I have been a season ticket holder with the opera company in my city for 25 years and a fan for much longer. As a 3-year-old my favorite music was “The Ride of the Valkyries.” Forgive my literary phrasing. My remark was meant to convey “I like classical music and not jazz, [I like] opera and not country.” (And not all of Puccini is sweet and full of yearning and romance. “Con onor muore” is not serene! I love Verdi too, even the big crashing choruses.)

mcbealer's avatar

I think it all boils down to dissonance, and our individual interpretation of what constitutes dissonance.

fathippo's avatar

i think maybe what provokes certain emotions, or makes us feel connected or understood by it, like it creates a world for you to feel and live in. or maybe the music that says everything you want to say but you can’t say, and has everything you feel deep inside, but can’t quite get out, i guess that would be the sort of thing that you would connect with…
im not sure what set genres i like.. but overall i would say my absolute favourite bands would be nirvana and korn, and seether…
it’s like there i have a world to live in that expresses everything i want to express, in sounds and in lyrics kind of thing… =)
but man music is just amazing nothing compares to it… !

GabrielsLamb's avatar

I can’t explain why… But it’s Worth every moment, every bar, every measure and every note. It brings happiness into my life and makes me know I am alive and allows me in those moments to believe in the very least that it is not a bad thing that I am

I live through music, I feel through music, I see through music, I hope, I dream, I forgive, I remember, I lose, I win, I gain and fall… It is, everything to me!

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