We’ve all listened to music before, and chances are, we’ve all reacted to music in a variety of different ways. Music can make us smile, laugh, and cry, and even invoke stronger emotions such as anger, surprise, and love. The way music makes us feel influences our enjoyment of it. We might dislike a song that makes us upset but can listen to an upbeat song on an endless loop. Let’s check out some of the different ways music affects your emotions and why the emotional reaction we get from music is one of the key reasons we enjoy listening to it.
Music Makes Us Feel Good
Music makes us feel good. The positive emotions invoked by music can broaden our mindset in ways that are beneficial to our health and creative thinking processes. One reason why music makes us happy is because it’s loosely associated with the pleasure and addiction centers of our brain. The enjoyment of music involves the same pleasure center in the brain as other types of pleasure, including food and drugs. Music is an aesthetic stimulus, too, which means it can target the dopamine systems of the brain that are involved in the reinforcement of addictive behaviors.
Being In Sync With the Music
There’s a reason that certain cultures, including Native American cultures, relate music to the beating of the heart, inner spirituality, and connectiveness. Our body’s internal rhythms, including our heart rate, can sync themselves with the music we’re listening to. Synchronization is often seen as pleasurable, which might explain our strong urge to listen to and react to music. Dancing, for example, involves moving overtly or covertly in coordination with the music. The mixture of physical exercise and the positive emotional benefits of music releases dopamine which makes us feel good. When babies listen to lullabies, their breathing and heartrate sync with the musical rhythm. A calm, slow, and steady breathing pattern and heartrate help them relax and sleep. The music that’s used in horror and action movies also relies on synchronization to affect the viewer’s mood. As the pace of the music speeds up, so does their heartrate. This can heighten feelings of excitement, fear, and tension.
It Reminds Us of Past Events
Another way music affects your emotions is by reminding you of past events. The sorrowful melody you listened to post-breakup might stir up feelings of sadness, anger, or resentment, while Sir Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance” can evoke memories of the time you walked down the stage to receive your hard-earned diploma. Most listeners will use music to remind themselves of past events and enjoy the feeling of nostalgia.