a thoughtful discussion about music


"What Came First, the music or the misery?"

For those of you who think that music is purely intuitive and simple, think again.

There are many people throughout history that have thought of music as a science.
Music Theory is a complex subject, involving a lot of mathematics and also psychology.

From this point forward, there have been both musicians and scientists studying "psychoacoustics" and trying to figure out the affects that certain sounds have on our brains and emotions.

One interesting question to ask when thinking about the psychology of music arises in the film High Fidelity:
Rob: What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?

Rob makes a good point in this film that I don't think many people often think about. Does the music that we listen to affect how we feel inside or do our emotions direct out musical taste? I personally listen to a lot of really emotional music, but do not consider myself a melodramatic individual, while some people who are much more emotional, listen almost solely to pop songs. I have also read in books such as Daniel Levitin's This Is Your Brain On Music that people have different ranges of musical perception and taste. Some people's brains are more pleased with more simple structures in music, while others prefer more complexity. It is a sort of development. When we are children we find simple sounds interesting and easy to understand, but at a certain point on the "complexity scale" it gets confusing or uninteresting. Then, when we grow up and our brains develop, the range of interest goes up also, some surpassing others.

As far as the whole chicken/egg (music/misery) dilemma, I personally think that the misery probably comes first. While we can say that a certain song or film makes us really sad or happy, for that emotion to persist there must be other variables within our environment that are also attributing to it. But maybe others have different perspectives and opinions...

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