Whether it be the dulcet tones of your favourite singer or the long riffs of a guitarist slashing out a solo, music can evoke emotions in all of us we often didn’t know existed. It often starts in the extremities working its way through your body like a wave forming, than crashing on a beach only to be drawn back out by the tide to repeat the cycle. It might start as a tapping of the foot, the clicking of your fingers or the drumming of a nearby object and before you know it the beat and rhythm have wormed their way inside until your whole body has involuntarily joined in and you find yourself sounding like a strangled cat in a back alley somewhere as you sing along at the top of your lungs.
That’s the effect music can have on you! As I started writing this blog in my mind this morning, ironically I was singing to myself, driving along in the car and it got me thinking about what my first piece should be about on A mind of its Own. With music blaring away, other drivers looking at the crazy guy either talking to himself of singing along it got me think about other people’s reactions to music and how it can lift them in some cases and in others bring a tear to the eye.
Personally I am big on lyrics, I’ll admit a catchy beat is always fun to listen to but lyrics are where I really start to enjoy music. Perhaps it’s the creative element and the aspect of empathy that music allows that I enjoy so much or maybe in some past life I was a famous musician (If i was it certainly didn’t carry into this world). Either way for me music is a tool I utilise most days to help control my anxiety and depression and help me concentrate at work when I’d rather be anywhere but there.
Music plays a bigger part in our day-to-day lives than we often think, for someone like me who thrives on routine, music is a big part of my daily routine. I don’t listen to the radio in the morning on my way to work I put on a playlist and sing along right up to the moment I park the car. In the gym I listen to my own tunes while in the background some high intensity workout song plays for the roid ragers throwing their dumbbells around as they lift more than actually should to get those Hollywood muscles pumped.
I got thinking about how other people utilise music or react to music for example having played sport all my life and thinking about athletes getting ready for the big game or race an image comes to mind of someone sitting there with a pair of Beats by Dr Dre on their head, phone in hand, eyes closed focussing while their foot taps out the beat. Does the music help them focus or does it calm their nerves and what are they listening to? For all i know they could have Britney Spears blasting into their ears. No judgement from me, I used to annoy my teammates by singing Mmmbop while I warmed up before every game but hey it worked for me…
The power of music to evoke feelings and emotions has been utilised throughout time. Motion picture from its inception has utilised music scores to set the scene for the viewer taking it from the big screen to the small screen. Where the utilisation of small instrumentals let you know something scary is about to happen or something fun is around the corner. It didn’t take long for the madmen in marketing to get on board with Brands adopting music, paying royalties to the owners that when heard associated the listener with their product or service.
I was looking at taking a deep dive into the science behind the music. After reading several articles I decided to stop, thinking about how this Blog about music could soon turn into a book if I didn’t draw a line in the sand somewhere. So i’ve chosen to skirt around the science all you need to know is there have been studies. You don’t have to believe me but if you do a google search on Music and Science you will come across thousands of articles and studies on how music affects the mind, body and soul. If I had the time I’d spell it out for you all, however between work, writing this, a novel and playing sport I feel my wife might disown me if I don’t find some time for her in all of that.
That being said there have been studies carried out that show music can cure some forms of insomnia. Shoppers tend to buy more when classical music is playing and certain music helps us work out as we tend to increase our tempo based on the beat and rhythm. The articles and studies went on to explain that white noise helps concentration levels in office environments. A litany of studies have been conducted since the beginning of the 20th century.
The articles and research papers that drew me in tended to be those that discussed Anxiety and Depression and the use of music to help combat the effects. I guess you could say I have a vested interest. The studies conducted showed music has a soothing effects as sensory pathways had to compete with pain pathways. Playing music or getting people to participate in music based tasks can be used as a distraction and is an effective among those who can become easily absorbed in cognitive activities.
This isn’t the first piece I’ve written about music and its effect on the mind, body and soul. I’ve always loved music since I was a little kid and have been lucky enough to have a very eclectic taste. I’ll thank Mum and Dad for that one. Unfortunately I was not gifted with a good set of lungs, unique dancing feet or the dexterity to become a successful musician. Although for those of you who have seen me dance you could say that it’s quite unique.
Whilst having the ability to lift people music can also send us spiraling in the opposite direction with memories they may bring of a time, place or person that is painful. What we often associate with music goes along way to showing that with memories we capture more than we often think. For example the trigger of a memory through a certain song or lyric of a song. I remember being in Scotland several years ago (OK I was a young pup so it was well over a decade ago) I was missing home, the weather was miserable, I think it was snowing, close to Christmas and I was slipping and sliding in the big white van I got to drive around for work.
After deciphering the thick Scottish brogue of the DJ a song came over the radio that immediately had a lifting effect on me as it reminded me of home and my mum, I’d love to say it was Land Down Under by Men at work being Australian but it was not. It was Eagle Rock by Daddy Cool and to this day whenever I hear I automatically think about mum. Just like whenever I hear Billy Joel I’m reminded of Dad.
I have always said there is a song for every moment, every emotion and for everyone. Whether it is a reminder of the past, present or dreams of the future music plays a bigger part in our memories and dreams than we often give it credit for. The premise of this was always to get you thinking about music and the properties behind it, how much of a role does it play in your life and what emotions and feelings does it stir within you?
I’m sure I am not telling you the reader anything you don’t already know but it does get you thinking! Do I have my own song? Something that reminds me of me when I hear it? Or a song that is special to you? Lyrically I could pick a long list of songs that I can empathise with the artist as they pour out their heart or sing about a time in their life something happened.
If you are interested in reading more about the effect music has on our brain and body there are plenty of articles available on the net however the book ‘Why we Love Music’ by John Powell is a collation of research and information that he spent over 4 years gathering before releasing the book.
For now I’ll take a leaf out of the Beautiful Girls book and leave you with this quote of their lyrics ‘Cause I got music and it makes me feel alright, I got this here music and it helps ease my mind, Cause I got music and it takes away the pain, Got this here music and I’ve got everyday.