Laurens Rademakers

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Why does music "touch" us emotionally? It doesn't make sense.

This is a profound mystery which I cannot begin to ponder. Perhaps you can help?

Think of it: technically speaking, music is just a collection of sounds interspersed by silence.

But every human being knows of pieces of music that really "touch" him or her emotionally. These emotions can be very strong, and transport you to another "place".

How is it possible that a mere collection of sounds gets associated in our brain with memories, experiences, emotions, stories, images, feelings...? Why can we even cry when hearing a particular piece of music or even a fleeting, short succession of a few notes?

It's totally bizarre. I don't understand. It makes no sense, as far as I can see.

Sense? No, because:

-(Apparently) there's no "utilitarian"/"economic" value to music.
-(Apparently) there's no biological/evolutionary advantage -- we are hunters and gatherers, with some brutally uttered noises we should get by well while hunting mammoths and elephants.
-There seems to be no real social value either (as some music can be too private, and a singular fragment may touch a single person at a strictly single, private moment)
-Maybe there's a neurological advantage (releasing energy in excessively charged neurons, or something to that extent...)

In any case: how can we ever explain the fact that music "touches" us and generates "feelings" that can touch our entire body and make us shiver?

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    Jun 24 2011: Laurens,

    To understand how music makes sense, consider sensual (not technical) underpinnings. All "rational" intelligences are submissive to base instincts. Senses are: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.

    Infants hear their mother's heartbeat before anything else. Her cardiac rhythm, on a background of non-rhymic bodily sounds, sets down a steady "base" beat on which baby's (much faster) heart rhythm is layered.. Baby experiences both, symmetrical and in-synch.

    So, our first experience of sound is neither cognitive or utilitarian. Accessed via vibration. Of no practical or even emotional value to a pre-nate. But right there at the "dawn" of our existence.

    When baby is born social connection(s) deliver its needs through its senses. The most satisfying come via sound, touch and taste. Generally in mom or dad's arms. Baby hears singing or humming while settling at breast, bottle or to sleep. In mom's (dad's or another's) arms, perhaps skin-to-skin baby again hears those two sustaining beats. His/her ear lies next to her body, amplifying both.

    As baby's emotional and cognitive neurological scaffolding begins making post-birth connections, eg: through trial and error how to satisfy hunger by finding the nipple and how to be calmed when in distress, these sense-based beats go on.

    Baby, in turn, learns to communicate with sound (crying) to satiate its feelings of hunger, discomfort, frustration, loneliness, etc. If emotionally connected with mom (or other) baby will easily distinguish her voice from others and associate it to her smell, which is connected to food, namely milk.

    Thus, sound and vibration is imbedded through human biological, social, emotional and cognitive processes, within our base and instinctual senses--self-taught, so to speak.

    This is why neonatal units where pre-term babies are cared for try to minimize loud sounds and promote skin-to-skin contact with mom (dad or other), when at all possible.

    Wonderful Q! Thanks,

    Andrea
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        Jun 24 2011: Jim,

        Lucky Ella! I've edited and injected Dad as key singer, too.

        Many thanks for sharing your story --

        Andrea
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      Jun 25 2011: Andrea,

      Your contribution to this discussion shed light unto how music can be associated to meditation;

      "So, our first experience of sound is neither cognitive or utilitarian. Accessed via vibration. Of no practical or even emotional value to a pre-nate. But right there at the "dawn" of our existence."

      If one escapes to this mode of in-cognitive, non-utilitarian, non-purpose vibrations/frequencies, keeping in mind that time is relative, music can be used to "speed up" or "slow down" the perception of time via rhythm synchronization. This demands enormous focus and conviction (from my perspective, anyway). One must ignore any semantic existence inside any lyric and focus on melodies only. One must not miss a beat and it helps to find space somewhere inside the rhythm to match your breathing with. One should be impervious to the immediate environment (don't try this while crossing the street). The effect is intensely calming.

      It's fascinating the way that music evolved from simple tribal rhythm and evolved into synthesized textures, deceptive cadence, overlapping time signatures, melodic scales and so on. Moreover, I think music as chosen by the adult ear (and I mean more than the ear attached to your head) can be separated into different forms of content; authenticity, emotional connection, instrumental format, lyrical pertinence,etc... I would say that culture is responsible for the development of music into so many genres, and still each genre acts as a mere template used to interpret emotion from sound. Furthermore, this is true across the globe.

      Nonetheless, the fact that we hear music before even birth and that we organize it as we develop consciousness/awareness dilutes all of the above.
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        Jul 13 2011: Mathieu --

        Yes, these heart rhythms and connective vibrational effects are surely related to meditation.

        And I agree: evolutions of complexity, varied frequencies & time signatures, synchrony v. asymmetry and internal/external relationships to personal energies music captures are fascinating.

        In a way, they are also reassuring. By weaving in the diverse cultural and experiential features, we can perceive, in music's evolved sophistication, something close to the phenomenological processes of entropy. Wherein orderly and linear paths are integrated with disorder and chaos as each emerges, in equilibrium.

        In this interpretation, I'd like to think music is now akin to the canary singing (not, in this case dying) near the coal mine: A harbinger of hope that humans can and should embrace all our senses. From where they come from in our most deepest human experiences to where they we are going to as individuals and global community, so to speak.

        Thus music teaches us how we can, and indeed have, evolved by listening for, hearing and embracing our most connective essences--even those which in earlier or other places seem(ed) dissonant or unfamiliar.

        To echo your thoughts, I see our challenge as "composers" of our lives and world is to sort the superficially social/environmental dissociations, that can seem evolved but aren't, out from our big-picture perspective, so they don't undermine core, essential, truths. In musical terms, to reduce any clang and clatter, no matter how seductively flashy or novel, that prohibits the full experience of the music.

        To slightly depart from you: I don't think we should be impervious, but rather be selectively pervious to matters of our evolution.

        By noting when we sense intense familiarity or comfort at deep in core and, indeed, throughout our hearts, minds and bodies in sensual ways that both stimulate and satiate somehow at once. When this occurs core essences, those worth evolving, emerge.

        Andrea
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    Jul 13 2011: I am trying to to end this "assumption"
    how things go
    listening to music, is an experience
    if you listen to the piece, the first time, some might like it, some might not
    for those who liked it:
    not for too long, they keep listening to the piece until, it's part of their thinking
    they humming the piece while they're walking
    then they keep the piece in their long term memory, remember the piece
    they also, may link the time of listening to the piece with a certain situation
    not for too long, will lose the sense, and becomes a memory

    for those who didn't like it, either at all or somewhat at minimal
    repeating listening to the piece will make the person, listen to the details of the piece, ending with liking the piece eventually

    regarding senses:
    I see music is like math equation

    7 notes + different timings
    every single musician is trying to find a good combination, what adds more variables to the equation is the instrument
    I play guitar, been sometime, befor I had to wait for the feeling!
    I learned more, I don't have to feel anything
    it's the combination, pick a scale (deppending what mode you want the piece to be like [happy, sad]), arrange the tones with a certain time [fast, slow] [4/4, 3/4, 5/4, 7/4 for example], you got at piece
    it makes things more easy for me to think this way
  • Jul 9 2011: i don't know if it has been suggested, but as a self taught guitarist, blues enthusiast, and someone who has been in grad school for way to long studying psychology, i would suggest reading "This is Your Brain on Music" by Daniel J. Levitin. The arguments pertaining to the emergence of music are still going on, but this guy provides a strong case regarding our musical relationship across our evolution.

    He argues that music was a precursor to language development and overall a vital role in our evolution. One reason was due to how intact our musical abilities remain even if we lose other similar functions (i.e., people who can't talk can sing, people who can't walk can dance, people who can't use their hands but can play the piano, etc.)

    also, it has been shown that the rhythm promotes movement areas of the brain, which is why we tap our toes and dance. However, music also has a voice and is able to talk to us, which has been seen with neuro-scans of jazz pianists while they were improvising, which lights up the language areas of the brain. I know that guitarists such as Clapton have described that when they solo they are really just singing with their hands instead of their mouths. Don't know if that provides any clarity, but there is a lot of research and theories out their if you know where to search
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    Jun 29 2011: This is a great question! I'm still thinking about why music has such an influence on me. In particular, Albinoni's Adagio makes me cry, if you can believe that!!! It is so deep and mysterious and tugs at your heart strings. Also Tchaikovsky's Concerto No. 1.

    I venture to explain the love of music in terms of philosophy, because I believe there is more to humans than evolution and survival. There are many aspects of our being that cannot be attributed to mere biology.

    The universe is diverse and separate. There are huge things (like galaxies) and smaller things (like planets). Even on the Earth, there is no uniformity. Non-uniformity is the sign of a universe. When everything is one and the same, there is no separateness, there is no universe. That is why we fall asleep when we listen to a constant humming or in a lecture where the speaker is monotonal. There is no differentiation. It's all dissolved into a single aspect. For example, compare a nice vegatable salad versus a smoothie make by grinding all the vegetables into a puree. No doubt they are the same, but people with good teeth and taste prefer the salad to the smoothie, because of all the variety in texture.

    By indulging in a pattern of non-uniform sounds, we are indulging in our existence. We are enlivened by music. So by celebrating music we are celebrating our differentiated consciousnesses and existences.
  • Jun 26 2011: Dear Laurens

    As a music educator I think about this question quite a bit. I learned in 10th grade that I prefer teaching music over performing. I have found I tend to have more of an emotional response when I have taught a child rather than perform myself. I will do my best to explain why.

    Music and language share many elements that are vital for sharing, expressing, and understanding emotions. One example is timbre. We find our mother's voice naturally soothing as a baby, especially when she speaks in a higher tone. Likewise a harsh or yelling tone of voice will scare babies or dogs away who naturally know to become frightened by these sounds/tones. The timbrel element of music works similarly--certain instruments sound pleasing to us: cello, piano, breathy saxophone, etc.

    Music takes it to the next level by adding several other elements, one of which is contour. The shape of a phrase in spoken languages vary depending on where you are in the world. In English, our sentences and phrases give us so many clues as to how others are supposed to feel when they hear us. Getting higher and higher in pitch tells the listener to keep being interested as there is a kicker coming soon! When that kicker of the sentence comes, there is a peek in the tone of a persons voice, or a quick drop, a change basically that informs us that something important was just said. Musical phrases and contour works the exact same way, especially in expressive music such as the romantic period.

    Other musical characteristics are the same, volume (dynamics), harmony, (dissonant or consonant?), unpleasant/exaggerated timbres (distorted guitar), speed or tempo (think of someone speaking very quickly vs slowly). The examples go on and on between communicational and musical expression. When I teach a child music, I realize that they now have a great tool for expressing themselves. And since human expression is a ubiquitous commodity, seeing my students fall in love with expression, is my drug.
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    Jun 24 2011: A splendid mystery which may never be fully understood for all technical analysis we do.

    For example, major scales in general are 'lively" or "happy" compared with "morose" and "melancholic" minor scales. But why?

    The structure. The symmetry. The coherence. The complexity. The depth. The rhythm. The pitches. The dynamics. The skill. The content. The generation. The environment.

    For all the possible set of answers, someone will still ask: "But why?"

    It would be safe to say that music in general can be appreciated or not or both.

    I remember reading somewhere ( I think it was about Feynman ) a man asking his friend the question of why long ago -- and even now -- people tried to understand what a rainbow is and how it is formed. In summary, the person mentioned virtues like curiosity and physical/mathematical mysteries inspiring people to study it. In reply, the guy ( assuming Feynman was who I remember it was ) retorted with the idea that couldn't people simply try to understand the rainbow because it is beautiful.

    I guess understanding why music touches us is intimately tied to why beauty touches us. Then people will ask, "What then is beauty?;" as to the beholder most will answer.

    Music is a legacy. Music touches our hearts since we can touch back. As much as we find ourselves so insignificant and so small in the grand scheme of things, as the universe and the stars shine down on us, we can look up and shine back.
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      Jul 12 2011: Yes, that was Feynman. This anecdote inspired the title of a book: "Feynman's Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life" by Leonard Mlodinow, who wrote it as the story of his friendship with Feynman: http://www.amazon.com/Feynmans-Rainbow-Search-Beauty-Physics/dp/044653045X

      I would argue that perception of beauty IS due to an intuition for mathematical relationships, including (in the case of music) periodicity (rhythm), multiplicity (relationships between tonal frequencies and harmonies), and rate of change ("shape" of the sound). The subjective aspect of beauty has to do with which properties we prefer to notice most, but the properties themselves still have roots in mathematics.

      I suspect that the reason for the enjoyment of whichever musical properties we prefer may be due to our innate ability to seek and analyze patterns. The mind delights in finding patterns, which is likely due to an evolved reward system (e.g. dopamine) that encourages greater understanding of things, which definitely can be linked to survival instincts: patterns in weather, migration, hunting and gathering, even social interactions and interspecies behavioural analysis, all are worth understanding better from a survival point of view. Music listening and learning can enhance pattern recognition, and the mind surely must enjoy finding easy ways to practice this skill, such as when the tones are soothing and harmonious rather than jarring and chaotic, or if the rhythm is fun and interesting. Creating music, then, is a way to share a pattern that the mind has developed as a way to practice describing patterns.

      The emotional aspect associated with music may be due to correlation, not causation. What I mean is, the mind's pattern-matching skill is tying music together with emotions as a way to understand it, or to catalogue the similarities between music and emotion. So music itself may not cause emotion, though in reminding us of emotions, we may find ourselves feeling them.
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        Jul 14 2011: But why? =)
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          Jul 14 2011: Good question. :)

          It's a feedback loop: positive feedback (i.e. the enjoyment), encourages the loop to continue, and thus the benefits can continue building on themselves.

          So our innately analytical minds enjoy music, because music is beneficial in how it expands our mental capabilities.
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      Jul 13 2011: I guess music is touching us, in time of listening to newer pieces or ideas only
      otherwise, why would it touch me?
      it's an experience

      even for pieces that touch us, the more we listen to the piece .... the less touching it gets
      this means there is nothing as touching, it's a new experience, I think
      and all what it needs is to listen to the piece for sometime to become standard for us
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        Jul 14 2011: I know a lot who would say otherwise though.

        There are music (with lyrics or purely instrumental) I and a lot others I know who just cannot get enough of one item or sort of music.

        On the other hand, there are some which does not appeal as immediate as others but you get to listen to it more, you get to understand it more, you get to assimilate it more, and you get to appreciate them.

        But the new experience is indeed an aspect which is true in a lot of cases.
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    Jul 14 2011: Laurens...excellent question for which I do not have the answer...only experiences:>)

    I think there is a social value, because music connects people all over the world. One thing I've noticed while traveling to very rural areas, is that original music is very similar in many geographically seperated areas of the world.

    Music seems to make a connection sometimes when many other avenues fail to make the connection. I've entertained in nursing homes, and very often, residents who do not communicate in any other way, will start moving to the beat of the music and often sing along with the words, even though they do not remember their own name or members of their family.

    When I was unconscious, after a near fatal head/brain injury and craniotomy, my daughter had all the tunes I was familer with plugged into my ears most of the time. Did the familiarity of the music help bring me back to this consciousness? Did it help me to heal from an injury I was not supposed to recover from? We will never know for sure, but it apparently didn't hurt:>)
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    Jul 4 2011: The ending of this rendtition of "When Johnny comes marching home" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMJTycleWrc led me to a forum post which fits this thread. In July 2008, user Hog.Eye.Man wrote on http://www.authentic-campaigner.com/forum/showthread.php?16239 :

    I've have a cool book over here [Garofalo, Robert and Elrod, Mark, A Pictorial History of Civil War Era Musical Instruments and Military Bands. Pictorial Histories Publishing Company; Charleston, West Virginia., 1985] which has quotes from Diary entries and letters from soldiers about military bands/music during the war. I would like to share a few with you all. This first one was written by an unknown infantryman with the 24th Massachusetts Regiment in a letter home in April of 1862:

    "I don't know what we should have done without our band. It is acknowledged by everyone to be the best in the division. Every night about sun down [Patrick] Gilmore gives us a splended concert, playing selections from the operas and some very pretty marches, quicksteps, waltzes and the like, most of which are composed by himself or by Zohler, a member of his band. Thus you see we get a great deal of new music, notwithstanding we are off here in the woods."

    [...]

    When Federal authorities were considering the elimination of regimental bands in 1862 because the cost was too great, Alonzo Quint, Champlain of the 2nd Massachusetts Regiment, protested this cool message:

    "Those who advocate this [the discharge of regimental bands] cannot have an idea of their value among soldiers. I do not know anything particular of the science of practice of music...but I see the effects of a good band like ours, continually. It scatters the dismal part of camp life; gives new spirit to the men jaded by or on a march; wakes up their enthusiasm. Could you see our men, when, of an evening, our band comes out and plays its sweet stirring music, you would say if retrenchment must come, let it be somewhere else..... let the men have their music."
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    Jun 25 2011: I recently read an article out of Discover Magazine that exhibited a study by which apes were tested on keeping rhythm and failed miserably. They could only react to a beat after it came, not as it arrived.

    In comparison, the article offered that a cockatoo can easily keep a beat to the Backstreet Boys. The explanation given was that keeping time requires anticipating and imitating, the same parts of the brain responsible for learning a language. Therefore, just as a parrot can be trained to reproduce human words (although it won't understand their meaning like an ape might with sign language), it can also reproduce a beat.

    An interesting facet of the study pertaining to our discussion is that the cockatoo was reluctant to keep time by itself, whereas with a partner it was much more inclined to dance and quirk. The more partners involved, the more irresistible its urge to participate in the song.

    I think that Jim Lloyd is correct in suggesting that music is a form of communication. We all know that singing is a language to birds, in fact many species are "programed" to learn only one tune and the best performer is selected for reproduction. So why wouldn't our own organization of sound be a natural way to communicate ideas? A language.

    I personally hear no greatness in lyrics and the story-telling aspect of music (which incidentally is always poetry) but attain much pleasure from the anticipation of rhythm, melody and texture of music... especially when my expectations are nullified.

    There is a clear synonymy between music and mathematics involving fractals and patterns of the like.

    In sum, music is ancient, contagious and is a "naturally occurring" language such as math. Neither math nor music are ever wrong (taste limits you). Our reaction to it as humans I define simply as an unabated bond with the nature of the universe.

    More fascinating TED talks on this subject;

    Evelyn Glennie shows how to listen

    Bobby McFerrin hacks your brain with music
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    Jun 24 2011: Awesome question, Laurens!

    Let's state the basic facts for the start:
    - Sounds are important carriers of information.
    - The creation of sounds is nothing unusual in fauna, and even flora has partly adapted to it.
    - Sounds can affect the physiological processes in plants and animals.
    - Sounds are connected with experiences that are remembered, not just rationally, but emotionally.
    - The taste in songs varies greatly between persons.
    - There is no music or instrument universally liked by every person.

    Mystifications of music often overlook or actively deny these simple observations. Apparently they disenchant its magic, so let's take a closer look at them.

    Maybe most important is the realization that music isn't fundamentally different from other sounds. Yesterday I spent my time on YouTube listening to cats purring, and I am not the only one. This video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nX1YzS_CYIw shows nothing more than kittens and cats meowing, yet it has gathered 5 million views so far and gets commented every few hours. This website http://www.rainymood.com/ delivers half an hour of rain recording and is perceived by most commenters as relaxing. Personally, I recommend playing it together with Ratatat's "Everest": http://grooveshark.com/#/s/Everest/2tJWN5?src=5 ;) So viewing music as a "collection of sounds interspersed by silence" does not make our affection to it implausible, since we do find sounds already to be appealing.

    When we talk about teenagers and adults, many more aspects come into play: Content of lyrics, opposing other groups, socializing with peers, following traditions etc. A particularly interesting article in the Economist links musical productivity to reproduction: http://www.economist.com/node/12795510 . But if you are interested in the most basic motivation, a focus on toddlers and animals will surely prove to be most insightful. The article hints at an intriguing explanation for that, too. What do you think of it? :)
  • Jun 24 2011: Music has rythm, many of the components of our biological body also do, like the cells that govern the rate of our heartbeat. So there may be some kind of harmony going on here.

    These biological rythms inside us helps us notice patterns in the world around us, I would say music is a massive collection of patterns that stand out to us from the rest of the sounds we hear. As to feelings being triggered by music, I can only say that some people are more sensitive to certain types of information than others.

    - Ding
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      Jun 24 2011: Siuling, interesting insight. But rythm can only be part of the answer.

      The melodic aspect of music cannot be explained. Why does a minor scale make most of us sad, whereas the major scale makes us happy? Tonality (apart from rythm) can provoke deep emotions. Why?
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        Jun 25 2011: Here again, I'd say consider the tones used in communicating with infants. Lullabies are a good example. Most, worldwide since dawn of civilization use major scale.
  • Jul 16 2011: . Precisamente tú das la excelente respuesta, la música es apreciada a través de uno de nuestros "sentidos", y no es mensurable, ni lógica la recepción de la misma
    Asi Como El Sabor, La Vista, el olfato, el Tacto, "no son razonables ", y a la Vez son los que nos identifican como " Seres en Relación ".
    Quizas incursionando en la Medicina Tradicional China, encuentres más respuestas. Se Cuenta Que en la Alta antigüedad cuando un amigo enfermaba, se acudía al Médico para saber el Canto de que pájaro ayudaría a lograr una pronta mejoría y se enviaba como obsequio.
  • Jul 11 2011: It's a good question, and you make good points. The answer has to be in our neurology, but that's no answer in itself.

    When I'm making music, it's all about direct emotional communication, without words. But why that works, or why I should even expect it to, I'm not sure. When I'm listening, it's also about the communication, the fact that there's someone "on the other end," a composer, then a performer. There's something very touching about being in intimate contact with these other people using a wordless medium (for me, music has never been about lyrics or libretto).

    Surely there are studies to be found on the effects of musical experiences on our brain. The question would boil down to What else creates the same effects in the same brain regions, and can we conceive of a survival-based or other explanation for the correlation.
  • Jul 8 2011: Then you find something else you enjoy. Maybe gardening. Or search for proof of existence of the Loch Ness monster.

    My point is that Music has been a cultural, social and i would go as far to say , a physical need. What qualifies as music is subjective but eventually it fills a certain vaccum humans lack. Why not just take take joy from that and start looking for hypothesis on why it should affect us.
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    Jul 5 2011: And if we can't?
  • Jul 5 2011: Umm....Its music. Enjoy it!
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    Jun 26 2011: music is another way of telling stories or expressing your feelings. If the way the music play kind of related to the way you feel, it may touch your feeling and sometimes the story behind the music really interprets our life at some point.
    But at a scientific point of view, according to a research saying that music will trigger oxytocin ( a hormone in our body ) that could modulate social behaviour and moods. So, it seems like hearing music will trigger the central nervous system (brain) to stimulate the production of rhis hormone causing us to felt touch from hearing the music.
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    Jun 25 2011: Laurens,

    The following link outlines the ambitious ways in which humans have learned to prepare music for each other to communicate emotion/idea. I think it will show that your measure of music as "a collection of sounds interspersed by silence" is perhaps under-calibrated.

    http://graham.main.nc.us/~bhammel/MUSIC/compose.html

    However the real mystic behind vibration and frequency remains ardently teasing!

    Mathieu
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      Jun 25 2011: mathieu,

      love all your posts and this one is stellar..thanks for that wonderful link.

      Did you see the link I provided to the Scientific exploration of our very phsyical and deeply spiritual connection to certain tonal patterns and frequencies?

      I did a sort of seat of the pants music program for our island headstart kids this year and learned so much about our innate connection to music. We did simple things like all all ton eon e flat for as long as possible..their faces just lit up with one wonder as they left what was happening..same with exploring and toning to a simple chord. We did an experiment with large steel pans filled with water.. they chose a note ( their favorite note is D it turned out..) and we filled the pan of water , testing it with a soft striker until it was a "D"..we matched it to the D on a dulcimer, the D on my pitch pipe, ..they were amazed..then I invited them as a group to fill the other two bowls to a tone that sounded good with the D and each other. They found 3, 5 7 harmonic chords all by them selves, jusy by what felt right to them ( these are 3 and 4 year olds).

      .
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        Jun 25 2011: 1, 3, 5, 7.... wow that's almost the Pentatonic scale! Like Benjamin Zander said, no one is tone deaf!

        Excellent activity by the way, I'll have to keep this one in mind.
  • Jun 25 2011: Perhaps part of the attraction to certain sequences of sound are associated with previous memories and feelings. For example, some people associate the songs that were playing when they were first kissed or experienced a traumatic experience. Music can connect us to special points in our memories.

    I talked with a Vietnam veteran who can't listen to songs with loud sounds like drums because he associates that with some of his fighting experiences. Explosions in movies are certainly a problem for him.
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      Jun 24 2011: Edited thanks to Jim's reword:

      The musical machinery of mammalian brains begin bonding in-vitro. This bonding is an evolved trait common to all mammals.

      (Further explanation how, in my post to Laurens).

      However, this doesn't explain bird brains :-), or thier musical mystery

      Andrea
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          Jun 25 2011: You're right regards the reword, Jim.

          Thanks for "duet-ing" concepts with me. We seem to be "trading 2000s."

          I'll edit with your suggestion.

          Andrea
  • Jun 24 2011: An older man (who has never been musical) gets hit by lighting: In less the a year he is not only playing the piano but composing his own music & giving sold out preformances. He is also a surgeon.
    A severly affected Turrets Sym. boy gets a set of drums @ an early age & now @ 21, is not only a great drum player but gives lessons to others with Turrets. Drumming keeps him together.
    A boy, blind at birth, hears a piece of music one time & can play it wonderfully. He has trouble in other phases of his life.
    These are all true stories & there are many more.
    The field of art has many simular stories.
    Just thought I'd add more "whys" to your questions.
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    Jun 24 2011: "I think the science of sound and the ancient knowing of the power of certain vibrations, frequencies and harmonic patterns will be unpacked more fully and make its way into main stream experience of music and sound.

    The link below is avery exciting an d inspiring exploration exactly to your question. It atempts to explore and document our deep connection to music scientifically with intersting folk like Yo Yo Ma ..It appears that each part of our body has its own harmonic frequecy and that music that "makes us feel good" actually i sproducing a bio chemcal change in us.


    .I use african and native american drums and temple bells in my meditation practice and ocassionally stumble on one of those magical mind/body openings that can happen with vibration and sound. I witnessed little children somehow having a natural affinity for certain tones and tone intervals

    a free..instant play on netflix ;MUSIC INSTINCT;SCIENCE ANDSONG"

    http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Music_Instinct_Science_and_Song/70121084?trkid=2361637#height1328
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    Jun 24 2011: Music is my aeroplane - Red Hot Chili Peppers.

    Music is what feelings sound like. ~Author Unknown.

    Music is everybody's possession. It's only publishers who think that people own it.
    John Lennon.

    ‎"Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought" - E. Y. Harburg
  • Jun 24 2011: emotions are triggered by external stimuli. In this case its music, it does not necessarily always makes you happy. It can scare you, it can make you sad or make you happy. Various art forms like music, painting, dance etc strive to move us emotionally without the use of words.

    Do you know that we communicate primarily via non-verbal communication and hence, these art forms have the ability to generate strong emotions because they use the most effective means of communication (non-verbal).

    Hope this answers your question :)
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      Jun 24 2011: Chandramouli, thanks, that's an interesting perspective.

      I understand that non-verbal communication is very important. But most of this communication consists of "signals" with a semiotic meaning -- they "signify" something that we can recognize: when a man lifts his fist, we perceive him to be potentially aggressive, because we know from experience that men use their fists to punch.

      But music? Music is so abstract. It has no direct connection with recognizable signs. Why do we associate particular sounds with particular feelings?

      The mystery remains.
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    Jun 24 2011: I feel as though listening to music, much like the sense of smell, stimulates memories about people/location/events that strike an emotional cord with the listener. When we listen to a piece of music, we harmonize with our surroundings and embrace the people/events that we associate with that piece of music. Take for instance the recommendation of a song by a friend. One will remember the friend/loved one for as long as he/she listens to the piece of music, and the music itself can transcend time boundaries to exist as a potent memoir of that person irrespective of life's circumstances. I think memories associated with the music, complementing the melody and harmony of the piece, are the reasons we are stimulated emotionally.
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    Jun 24 2011: I think many other things like music can touch us emotionally too . A nice peom , a good story ,movie...ect so when i look at them what they have in common. I think they touch on our experiences which are attached by emotions that you mentioned. and eventually those things become our voices:D (just guessing)
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    Jun 24 2011: This is going to be a good conversation, I think. But for me, I haven't a clue as to why music does what it does to most of us.. However, I wonder if those who have music in the top of their multiple intelligences will have a stronger proclivity towards it than those who do not?