Music is more Soothing to the Brain than previously Thought

By Abby Talbot –

Music has the ability to alter moods.

The human brain has many different emotions, and when you throw music into the mix, the brain gets enveloped with them.

According to “This is your brain on music,” written by Daniel J. Levitin, studies show  listening to music stimulates the brain, the emotional connection we have to the songs on the radio or the CD’s you listen to all correspond to a memory, a loved one, your mood, your religion, your up-bringing and much more.

Humans feel a different connection when just listening to a song through speakers as apposed to being at a concert or recital. The person playing the music has the ability to make you feel a deep connection or no connection at all. They do this by playing with “feeling,” according to the new research.

When a person playing Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven (a minor song) plays the song with no accents or crescendos or staccatos, how is a person supposed to get involved with a boring song?

But when you play as if the person or memory, etc. is around you, the feeling comes alive, not just in the person playing the song, but the listeners as well.

An article titled “To Tug the Heartstrings, Music First Must Tickle the Neurons,” from the New York TImes states that researchers did an experiment where music (the same song) was played note for note “mechanically” and then freely, holding out notes for longer periods of times and playing notes louder. They were voted on which had more emotion and the freely played one won.

“Seeing an artist actually play, you can see what they put forth in their music, I really connect with them when I hear their emotion,” said sophomore Haley Smith.

A photo of a piano that sits in Penn Manor high school , photo credit Abby Talbot.

Then there’s the difference in how you feel about the music when you have major and minor keys. Major keys are more positive sounding, something like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star or Up on the Roof Top.

Minor keys sound more negative as in gloomy or sad. A song held in a minor key would be like the theme song to Michael Myers or Moonlight Sonata.

Usually when a song is being played in a major key your mood is happy or joyful compared to a song in minor where your mood will most likely be sad.

Dr. Anjali Bhatara, now a postdoctoral researcher at the Université Paris Descartes, said in an interview with the New York Times, “I think it means that the pianist is very experienced in using these expressive cues.” She believed the more expressive you are the better you connect with your audience.

Melissa Telesco, one of Penn Manor’s music teachers said, “Music is like a fight, before you confront someone in a fight you think about what your going to say, and then when you get in front of them your true emotions and feelings come out.”

Music does resemble a fight, when you preform it you play with your heart.

Music can legitimately change waves and hormones within the brain. Experiments done measuring the cerebral blood flow and PET scans prove this. A recent experiment showed a person’s emotions when abusing drugs, eating food and having sex. Their brain waves indicated a very high level of pleasure. Then when they were to listen to music, they had the same amount of feelings containing pleasure as to when using drugs and eating food.

Music reaches people on all different levels and how we listen and play music determines the mind set we will have after the song is done. The way music can be altered into so much of a deeper universe is incredible and our brains are challenged by it.