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September 19, 2009

Why Does Music Make Us Feel?

When I read this article in Scientific American, two things jumped out: First, that the article was not asking if music made us feel, it was clear that music does make us feel; secondly, that the article didn't require how music makes us feel, either sad or happy or melancholy or any number of reactions.

"...music does emanate from our alarm clocks in the morning, and fill our cars, and give us chills, and make us cry. According to a recent paper by Nidhya Logeswaran and Joydeep Bhattacharya from the University of London, music even affects how we see visual images. In the experiment, 30 subjects were presented with a series of happy or sad musical excerpts. After listening to the snippets, the subjects were shown a photograph of a face. Some people were shown a happy face – the person was smiling - while others were exposed to a sad or neutral facial expression. The participants were then asked to rate the emotional content of the face on a 7-point scale, where 1 mean extremely sad and 7 extremely happy.

...The researchers found that music powerfully influenced the emotional ratings of the faces. Happy music made happy faces seem even happier while sad music exaggerated the melancholy of a frown. A similar effect was also observed with neutral faces. The simple moral is that the emotions of music are “cross-modal,” and can easily spread from sensory system to another.

...Music is exquisitely emotionally evocative, which is why a touch of happy music makes even unrelated pictures seem more pleasant.

...Regardless of whether music is emotional intonation from speech or a summary of expressive movements – or something else altogether – the new research by Logeswaran and Bhattacharya adds yet more fuel to the expectation that music has been culturally selected to sound like an emotionally expressive human. While it is not easy for us to see the human ingredients in the modulations of pitch, intensity, tempo and rhythm that make music, perhaps it is obvious to our auditory homunculus.
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Music has been almost as important to me in my life as breathing. Music helped save my mind and my spirit as a child and has filled my heart and fed my soul throughout my life.

One of the many blessings for me in being married to my dear husband is that he is a musician and he understands my need for music because music is as necessary to him as it is to me.

6 comments:

Shadow said...

of course music makes you feel. with a song in my heart i can write, i can cry, i can burst with happiness, i have the courage to try, i feel like giving up, i grab your hands and dance... why is all beside the point.

4evernite said...

No matter your mood, you can always find the right tune to go with it, and certain tunes can even change your mood. It is a language all to itself.

Shadowthorne said...

Did you know that one research blames techno music for the increased auto accidents in Europe?

I think it's rather true. Loud and fast music DO makes me drive even faster. :)

Brian Miller said...

its beautiful that you have that to share. music tellsa story that our hearts can relate to. all the emotion and feeling imbuded by the artist in its creation calls to us.

Ronda Laveen said...

There is no doubt that music makes us feel. It is like a teleport straight to emotions and memories. Yeah!

A Free Man said...

Music is very important to me as well. I don't like the idea of 'happy' versus 'sad' music though because that varies from person to person and culture to culture. In Western cultures, for example, minor chords are meant to be sad or dark. But that's not the case in many other cultures.