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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 27-Apr-07


Wednesday 04-Mar-07

The power of music

Music is a strange phenomenon. Why do varying pitches and rhythms make us feel good and want move in time to them? From an evolutionary perspective, what on earth is the benefit to the species of this? Is it some regressive throw-back? Perhaps it is related to basic comfort we get from perceiving and recognizing patterns or as Freud noticed, our compulsion to repeat.

What is interesting about music is its relevance in changing minds. Consider its use in movies. Without the soundtrack, most movies would be far less enjoyable experiences. The music both enhances the emotional content of various scenes and also cues us, hinting at what is about to happen and telling us what to feel.

Music at home ranges from aural wallpaper to intense and involving experience that we love but perhaps our neighbors do not. Gentle background music has no doubt contributed to many romantic moods and seductions.

When I am working intensely, I use familiar music to shut out external distractions. I don't consciously listen to the music, noticing when it stops more than its content. Curiously, when I am reading, I prefer music without words -- perhaps lexical interpretation is nearer the mental surface.

Muzak is the name of a company that fed carefully-selected music into sixties supermarkets. The notion was to relax and coax shoppers into a buying mood. This practice seems to have disappeared of late (at least here in the UK) and I can't say I mind because it wasn't 'my kind of music', although clothes shops seem to have gone the other way with loud and raucous rock that chases away all but the aficionados. Strange that too -- why does some music uplift some and depress others. Artistic taste is notoriously varied, adding further to the conundrum of what persuade and what does not.

Ah well. Headphones on. I'm on the train, so I just think I'll annoy a few people with my barely-audible music, tuneless humming and tapping toes.

Your comments

 I wish more and more people give their positive and/or negative experiences of, blending of music with any other activity. It will be a great experience by itself to have such valuable collection. It will help one learn one's own way to happiness or otherwise.
Best regards,

-- Mohan Sathaye

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