Our music listening experience shows us that listening to different rhythms and beats can affect our mental state, whether it uplifts, brings us to tears, or makes us angry. When you play an upbeat rhythm, you tend to pick up the pace. Calm and soothing pieces help to relax tension and one’s anxious nerves. Certain songs such as "Pomp and Circumstance" may bring an attitude of accomplishment for some, and a national anthem will undoubtedly cause many to feel patriotism and pride.
But why does music affect us?
There are different factors that can cause a person to respond to different melodies in one way or another. Tradition and cultural experiences that have been passed down among groups of people will bring out positive responses in those people when the music is played. Many individuals will associate popular songs on the radio with a specific moment in their life. Song selections played during meaningful life events will evoke response from an individual at later times.
Many studies have been conducted to determine reactions that a person has when listening to different music selections. One such study in 2011 by Nature Neuroscience Canadian research group, explained why music causes positive effects on the brain. During peak chord progressions as melodies rise and fall, dopamine was detected as being released into the brain. Dopamine is the bodies natural good feeling drug that helps a person feel happier.
Other studies have been conducted and shown that certain types of melodies can also have a negative effect on an individual. This might be due to bad experiences associated with the song itself. Also, certain heavy chords and stark resonances bring down the emotional state of the listener, causing upheaval and tension.
According to Music Therapy Today Vol. VIII (3) (Dec) 2007, music therapy has been incorporated into sessions for people of different mental states. For those suffering for mental disorders such as being bipolar or schizophrenic, the right kind of music can provide security and stability in their minds. Music therapy is also used for those that are diagnosed as depressed or suicidal. Also, relevant music is incorporated into the therapy for those that have suffered memory loss. With the right kind of music therapy, a person’s mental state can be enhanced.
Music is used to sooth the soul, enhance spirits, increase motivation and bring out the strongest of emotions.
While particular melodies have undergone a great amount of transitions over the course of the years, it has always remained current and relevant to the times. Music strikes the core of humanity and its effects seem to be ingrained in our biological make-up.