Thinking and Music

How do you use your iPod music library? What sort of music do you listen to when you drive to work? Is it different from when you drive home from work? And what do you listen to while you are trying to solve a problem? By exploring our music selections, we can discover sections that under certain circumstances can help to arouse positive emotions. 

Musicians have perhaps always thought about how music affects your mood and your thinking. Lately, neuroscientists and psychologists have studied the effects of music. The search for the secret of music‘s strange powers have led to many fascinating insights. The  books Musicophiliaby Oliver Sacks and This is your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin give you insight into this intriguing area. Research suggests that you can use music to lift your moods,  to increase your memory, or to change your perception. Music influences us both in positive and negative ways. The responses to music can vary widely and the moods that people experience from the same piece of music can contradict themselves. Our responses to music can be detected in our body and certain types of music can stimulate our mind because the rhyme matches body functions. Music cause the heart beat and pulse rate to relax to the beat of the music.

Music can affect our moods and mental work by  encouraging daydreaming, sliding into old memories, exploring the past. Music can accomplish several goals at the same time and sad music can for example, encourage mental work and discharge emotions. Saarikallioand Erkkila’s study of eight adolescents from Finland.suggests that music can help us increase our understanding of emotions. A prevalent idea is that sad music may lead to a constant examination of emotional state. And this constant exploration of emotions is assumed to  lead to less clarity.

Are our responses to music acquired or are they the result of the effect of sound on our brains? Emotional impact of music is often linked to major and minor chords. Major chord sound happy and upbeat, while minor chords sounds mournful. Interestingly you can form a sad-sounding minor scale by raising the pitch of any note, while dropping the pitch gives a major chord. When we are talking a raising inflection signals questions or deference, whereas failing is used to signal dominance. This suggests that minor and major modes could be linked to basic features of how we relate to the word.

Music is tool with which we can forget all our daily problems. But music is also a tool with which we can discover things about our society and ourselves. Music ambiguity is a positive attribute – it is a virtue by offering different ways. Ambiguity means that there are different possibilities. Music may help us explore the world and welcoming ambiguity is a step towards exploring issues. Problems and issues often involve many causes and there may be many different and even contrasting and conflicting solutions.

Photo: “Speaker” by renjith krishnan

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