I spend much of my time listening to new songs, skipping through the beginning 30 seconds because I know pretty much instantly that I will love a song. But the questions becomes why do I like this particular song so much, and why do I only listen to the song several times over. It’s something that I have done for as long as I can remember, even when I bought albums as a teenager, I would skip all the songs to the favourite one and just repeat. What makes the song repeatable? What does the brain do during this process? Does it have any connections to our environment? These are questions that I would like answered.
Simply, (but it’s not really that simple), imagine the experience of pleasure, whether its from food or etc, music can trigger the same pleasure in the brain. But there is also another argument that repeating songs are caused by exposure, and we hear it all the time, when the song is on the radio or when you see the top ten songs on iTunes.
However, there is another reason for repeat listening, repetition in instruments. Music nowadays are looped, sampled, and repeat sound verbatim (they sound the same acoustically). The sequences in music and its sound patterns, can create structural organizational forms that the human brain can determine as musical language. So, our brain is not entirely able to make the connection between musical memory and repetitions, just patterns.
Okay, so the information is very slim and far in between, there’s not much research or studies being done on this particular subject. Maybe I’m not researching enough, or maybe I’m not looking in the right place, but it’s looking grim. From what I can understand is that music that we like does have an impact on our environmental surroundings, social status, and our brains recognition in understanding patterns in the rhythm in music. Like I said, it really doesn’t explain much.
However, I will keep this posts open-ended, meaning that I will check back every once in a while to update. I’m still curious about this subject in music in relation to the brain, and how it affects our brain chemistry. One recommendation, to have a slightly better understanding on this subject is to watch a Netflix documentary called Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory. The documentary shows how the connection between music and memory has an affect on patients with brain conditions, like Alzheimer’s.
I hope everyone has a wonderful day, and if you’re not, give yourself one reason why to make this day great!
Thaut, Michael. “Music in Therapy and Medicine: From Social Science to Neuroscience.” Rhythm, Music, and the Brain: Scientific Foundations and Clinical Applications. Taylor & Francis, 2008. pp. 113.
Marguilis, Elizabeth. On Repeat: How Music Plays the Mind. Oxford Scholarship Online, 2014.