What Can Music Psychology Teach Us?
Updated October 12, 2018
Music. It's all around us. When you enter the grocery store, when you're walking to the gym, and even while walking outside, you may hear the music. You probably have your music tastes, and you have prob probably felt some emotions while listening to music.
It makes sense that in the field of psychology, music has been the subject of study. Music can make people feel emotions, motivate people to act, and it's an outlet for artists to express themselves.
In this post, we will look at music psychology. What is it? How can music change a person? Let's find out.
What Is Music Psychology?
Music psychology helps us to try to explain how we behave when exposed to certain music. It also looks at how our minds can process, create, and use music in our daily lives.
What makes music so interesting is that it's a unifier. Everyone from every culture experiences music. Even tribes living in the middle of nowhere play their music. Let's look at a few aspects of music.
Music And Emotion
What's quite interesting is how music can change your emotions, or boost them. When you're going through a breakup, a song about heartbreak can help get your emotions out. A more upbeat song can help you mask your feelings. Everyone is affected by music and uses music to let their emotions out, in a different way. Music can be the reason why you cry during a sad scene in a movie. Putting funny music over something unfunny can make it humorous.
How does it work? Well, you can look at music as a kind of an illusion of the senses. Technically, music is just a series of sounds. Evolved apes make their grunts and play on instruments. However, because of how the music is sequenced, our brain puts the sound in order and gives the song a new meaning. Music does this by having some structure, and a good musician needs to structure it in a unique way that the person does not expect.
Often, a musician will have an audience in mind. For example, someone who makes gospel music knows that their music needs to make the listener feel a connection to God. Someone who makes country music knows that their audience wants a connection with the small town they live in. They need to meet the audience's expectations and go beyond.
Music works by tapping into the primitive parts of our mind. These parts are usually associated with reward, emotion, and motivation. When you hear the notes of a song, your brain will sync up with the sounds of the music and is good at predicting what the next beat will be. This is how some people groove to the music.
Often, music is met with a reward. When you listen to a progressive rock song, you are expecting unique twists and turns throughout the music. When that happens, you feel like you're rewarded.
As you can expect, music can create imagery. Sometimes, the imagery is done through the lyrics. Other times, the music itself creates imagery. A ripping guitar solo can make you picture intense imagery. A slow song can make you picture calming water.
Now, let's look at the psychology of catchiness in music. Catchiness is when a part of a song, or the song as a whole, is easy to remember. The term "earworm" is often used to describe a song that you just can't seem to get out of your head. A song doesn't need to be good to be catchy, and people catch songs in many ways. Often, the simpler, the better. Songs with repetitive notes, a refraining hook, and other techniques such as alliteration are often catchy.
Often, a band will release their catchiest song as their single so that the people will remember that song and check out their other music. Some forms of music take multiple listens to appreciate its complexity, but a catchy song is intended to hook you with just one listen.
Extremely catchy songs will make you want to listen to the song over and over again. Often, you can't just seem to get the song out of your head. It can keep you up at night. Our memories love repetition, and popular songs are crafted with that in mind. It works. Some may think that a catchy song is not good music writing, that more complex music and lyrics make a good song, but catchiness works because it's not complex and easy to remember.
In advertising, a catchy jingle or even a song is effective. A jingle will stay in a person's head and can make the person remember the product. Someone may forget about what the product does, but they may remember that catchy jingle at the end. Odds are, you have a bunch of jingles in your head from years ago. Advertising works like that.
While many different factors can make a song catchy, there are a few big ones. It seems like detailed phrases with high pitches, male vocalists, and tons of vocal effort make the perfect catchy song. With the phrases, sometimes having a unique, but simple lyric can make you never want to stop listening to it.
No matter what you think of catchy music, it does stick in your head, and there are plenty of music producers who spend millions every year figuring out how to craft that perfect song for the current generation.
Think about some catchy songs. What are some that come to your head? What memories do you associate with them? By thinking about this, you may come up with your criteria of what makes a song so catchy. Even though there are universal rules for catchiness, everyone also has their makeup of what makes a song catchy for their situation. Think about it a bit and see what you can come up with.
When it comes to counseling, some counselors will use music as therapy. Music therapy can help people deal with emotional and social problems, and it's good for people of all ages and with all problems. It's good for disability, able-bodied people, and can help those who have a hard time with expression be expressive.
Music as a coping mechanism has been around for a while. Even Plato and Aristotle studied music and knew how it could work. However, modern music therapy didn't begin until the 1960s, as doctors begin to realize the healing power it could have. New age music became a genre.
This form of music had no rhythm or harmony. It is often ambient and used to meditate and relax. Someone who has troubling thoughts can clear out their minds and meditate, relax, fall asleep, or do other activities thanks to its ambiance.
When it comes to a music therapy session, the therapist may work with an individual or group to help them cope. They may play music with their instruments and invite the client to play their song. They will encourage clients to relax with music and reach their mental state with them. They will then observe the responses the clients make and decide if the therapy is working or if new music needs to be played.
Each music therapy session is unique, and you're in for a treat each time. You don't need to be a musician to play music. You aren't going to music therapy to learn how to play an instrument. Instead, you use that instrument to express yourself differently. Even if you are tone deaf with an instrument, you can still make your music that shows your character.
Music therapy works because it can calm down your heart rate, promote breathing, and even be a painkiller. Music therapy can release your tense muscles and can trigger certain memories. In other words, it can do a lot of what normal therapy can do as well. You don't need to be a music enthusiast to get the most out of music therapy.
Music therapy is good for any issue. If you're overstressed, music can calm your stress. If you're anxious, music can calm you down as well. Music therapy is great for young people who want to express themselves, but also old people who are in pain or have Alzheimer's. Music can be used to trigger certain memories.
If you're interested in music therapy, or just therapy in general, talk to a therapist today. As we've gone through, music can be used in so many ways to make you feel a certain emotion. You don't need to be unwell. Music can help a bout of insomnia, or make you feel better after a breakup. Speak to a counselor today and see how you can express yourself musically. Even if you feel like you have no talent whatsoever, you may be surprised at how musical you can be.