Everyone knows that by playing the right song, their mood can completely change. Listening to certain songs can completely change how you are feeling. You can let music bring you joy when you are down, but why does this happen?
When you listen to certain songs or music which move you, your brain releases a hormone called dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical involved in motivation, thus explaining why music can bring us joy.
Our brains are wired to interpret and react emotionally to music. It has even been found in a neurological study that babies as young as five months old reacted happily to music. These psychological states of joy in relation to the harmonies we hear intensify as we become older. This is simply because its not just innate in our brain to react well to music, but our memories and associations with certain songs make them all the more special.
Happy music often has a fast tempo and is written in a major key. This is known to be happy owing to the reactions it causes. Physically, these type of songs cause the listener to breathe faster which is a physical sign of happiness. Such reactions are on an unconscious level, therefore we cannot think about them before they start to happen.
Music is one of the only non-tangible forms which can affect our psyches in such ways. Normally, the mental reward that we get from music is reserved for activities such as sleeping and eating. Essentially, with music our brain can reward itself, which makes us as people feel much happier. The kick of feel good hormones is triggered by a simple melody.
Although the understanding of why music makes us feel better is fairly recent, it is far from an original idea. This concept of using melody and harmony to make you happy dates back to ancient civilisations. In ancient Egypt, chant therapies were seen as a vital part to the healing process of any ailment. Whereas, in ancient Greece, both Aristotle and Plato endorsed the benefits of music by emphasising that music could help people to become better human beings and overcome emotional difficulties- particularly during poignant moments of emotional relief.
Music has been used as an integral part of therapy for a variety of different diseases. It has been known to aid dementia, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s Parkinson’s and cerebral ischemia. Music also has the incredible ability alleviate pain according to some studies. In a Cleveland Clinic, it was discovered that listening to music helped patients experience less physical pain on top of lowering rates of depression.
Use music that you love to determine how you feel. There are certain songs which have proved universally effective – such as Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. However, the power of your cognitive associations can prove the perfect remedy for bringing joy back to you. Choose a song which reminds you of your childhood, or tune which makes you smile. Focus on nothing else except losing yourself in the soundscape of joy.
Music is the language of deep emotion. Its soundscapes elevate our moods to elation, in which words cannot fathom. As Shakespeare rightly said, ‘If music be the food of love, play on’.