Video of the day:
Odysseus’ crying ceases when Demodocus stops singing, and his tears flow once more when the song recommences. Ashamed of his tears, he covers his face with his cloak. His respond to the song is powerful.
~JEANETTE BICKNELL, author of Why Music Moves Us
Why does music make us feel happy or sad? Or angry or romantic? How can simple sound waves cause so much emotion?
In Why Music Moves Us, Jeanette Bicknell, who teaches philosophy in Toronto, and has written widely on aesthetics and philosophy of music, offers a great insight on the emotional power of music.
Likewise, Joe Hanson went from his comfy chair to the streets of Austin to investigate how it might be written into our neuroscience and evolution. Modern neuroscience says our brains may be wired to pick certain emotions out of music because they remind us of how people move!
Barking dogs, jackhammers and symphony orchestras are all really just vibrations
Scientifically speaking sound is just waves of pressure transmitted through air, or solid materials. And music is basically those same vibrations, only arranged in very specific patterns.
Why does music make us feel so many feelings?
Steven Pinker, author of How the Mind Works, says music is more like a side effect of things like language, and sensing our surroundings and responding to sounds like crying or growling.
Music stimulates just about every region of our brain, even the reward pathways that crave things like drugs
Some neuroscientists now think that music shares the same fingerprints as human movement. Where do we get emotion from simple vibrations?
Thalia Wheatley, a scientist from Dartmouth College, did a very cool experiment that suggests we may sense emotions in music the same way we sense emotions in human movement.
She gave people simple controls that would create either melodies or animations of a bouncing ball. Half of them used the controls to create a melody. Other people got the very same controls, only instead of controlling music they controlled the bouncing ball.
The results were amazing. For each emotion they tested, the slider positions for the melody were the same as for the bouncing ball. Happy bouncing balls and happy music shared the same controls. Same with sad, angry, peaceful. Emotion in music and movement seem to use the same patterns.