Why Music Evoke Strong Emotions?

Posted by on Oct 6, 2020, Under: Daily Tips

The value of music in a person’s life is enormous: it inspires us, gives us strength, helps to survive loss and sorrow. Why do we react so emotionally to her sounds? Psychologists have an explanation.

Why does music evoke such strong emotions

  • The most impressive thing is the music that deceives our expectations, alternates the expected with the unexpected.
  • Strong sensations are caused by the release of dopamine.
  • Dopamine is released when we recognize certain structures in music, and whether it is joyful or sad is not so important.

How important is music to us? Linguist Stephen Pinker believes that the role of music in human life is a kind of dessert, a pleasant side effect of language development.

At the same time, research suggests that playing the instrument or just listening to the works of great composers can change the structure of the brain and keep its functions active longer.

And still, first of all, music in human life is a source of deep emotions. But how exactly does she call them? Why can we calmly listen to some audio recordings while doing other things – for example, cooking or cleaning – while others make us awe, wade us to the very bones and keep us impressed for hours?

If music consisted only of harmonious combinations of sounds and melodies, we would be bored

In the early 1990s, British psychologist John Sloboda conducted a simple experiment.

He asked music lovers to identify passages that caused them a physical reaction – for example, tears or goosebumps.

Participants selected 20 fragments that made them cry when listening.

Then the psychologist analyzed their characteristics and revealed something in common: 18 of them contained a special element called appogiata.

This is a note that breaks out of harmony and creates a dissonance effect.

“This gives the listener a sense of tension,” says Martin Gong, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia.

“When the melody returns to the former harmony expected by us, tension is allowed, and we like it.”

“All music is the struggle between tension and relaxation,” explains musicologist Dwayne Sheen. – If the music consisted only of harmonious combinations of sounds and melodies, we would be bored. If tension was present all the time, it would be difficult to perceive.

Of course, there are such types of music: take at least free jazz or special compositions for relaxation. But what makes music so powerful for us is the transition from one state to another. ”

Music that Make us Tremble or Shed Tears

What kind of music should be to make us tremble or shed tears? Martin Gong names four common properties of such passages.

1. They start gently, then quickly gain volume.

2. They include the introduction of a new instrument, a new voice, a transition to a new harmony.

3. They often include wide frequency ranges: for example, in Mozart’s Concerto No. 23 (K. 488) there is a moment when the melody of the violins suddenly soars up an octave, and the audience is breathtaking.

4. Finally, such passages contain unexpected deviations of melody or harmony.

Another question is why the works that make us sad and cry are so popular?

Neuropsychologist Robert Zattore and his colleagues from McGill University (Canada) found that music that evokes intense emotions triggers the production of dopamine neurotransmitter in the centers of the brain associated with pleasure and reward. The same effect is provided by chocolate, sex and alcohol. We feel that we are well, and we want to reproduce this state again and again.


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