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Focus on Music

"If music be the food of love, play on" from Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

My guest this week on Focus on WHY, QJ, has built his entire life and pursuit of purpose around his passion for music. He shared just how much his mood shifts when playing different music.

Music has the unique ability to evoke emotions due to the way it interacts with your brain and body. Whether it is in the moment or perhaps it may trigger a past memory of events, people or places, music connects people and is able to transcend language barriers and cultural differences.

Marking its 53rd anniversary with around 210,000 people in attendance last week was the Glastonbury festival. An incredible coming together to celebrate the wonders and diversity that music has to offer. Last night I went to see M83 with my daughter and it was simply fantastic. There really is something magical about seeing musicians play live on the stage right in front of you. It was also one of those concerts where one of the guitar players decided to crowd surf too!

Music elicits a huge range of feelings including joy, happiness, excitement, sadness, nostalgia, melancholy, tranquility, fear, tension, serenity, loss, heartbreak, compassion or empathy. It is an incredible art form that has been in existence for tens of thousands of years. QJ posed the possibility that music preceded language. This is not confirmed. The exact origins of music remain uncertain, however what is known is that music has played a key role to connect, communicate and express emotion in human culture.

Musicians use music to convey their emotions and experiences and communicate these directly to their audience connecting on very personal levels. Music also offers you as the listener the opportunity to express how you feel in any given moment as it has the power to influence your psychological state. It can calm, uplift and energise you and even provide a cathartic release.

When listening to music, your brain releases various neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin mostly associated with pleasure, happiness and bonding. However, it can also release norepinephrine, also known as noradrenaline, when listening to scary music as there is a heightened sense of tension or fear. This will also provide you with a thrill or an adrenaline rush leading to a release of endorphins.

To test this theory out, simply watch any movie with the sound on and then replay the same segment with the sound off. It’s such a different experience. The soundtrack is critical to create the precise atmosphere and environment needed for you to really connect with the events occurring on screen.

How does music affect your emotion? Like QJ, do you choose music to evoke a specific emotion?

Focus on Music!


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