“Sing with me, sing for the years
Sing for the laughter, sing for the tears
Sing with me, just for today
Maybe tomorrow, the good Lord will take you away” – Steven Tyler of Aerosmith
Humans, overall, have a strong attraction to music. It is a part of our everyday lives and seems almost as ubiquitous as oxygen. It’s with us in the shower, in the movies and shows we watch, in our daily exercises and commutes, and at times, even in our heads! In fact, thanks to the quote above, ‘Dream On’ just may be playing in your head right now; quite possibly making you feel a certain way.
Music and moods go hand in hand.
The eyes absorb and marvel over vivid colors, the tongue tastes and indulges in delectable flavors, and the ears ingest the majestic magic of music into motion and emotion. Music is a powerful form of human communication. Perhaps the most fun form (at least the most enduring kind of). It’s an artistic expression of how we all can relate, feel, and be.
For some, music is just a necessary form of background noise, filling the void of uncomfortable silence. For others, it can be an addiction. Many fans have:
- Spent half their lives following their favorite bands (or attending as many concerts as possible)
- Bought every one of the band’s albums
- Downloaded any unreleased songs they could find
- Tattooed band logos onto themselves
Their love for music has driven them to seek it out and absorb it as much as humanly possible.
There is the other side too. It’s rarely invited. But I’ll tell you, it’s always there. And that is the dark side. It’s a part of human nature. Music is no exception.
The interpretation of music (and in some cases the use of) is not always a pleasant one. There are just some downright horrible frequencies that can cause annoyance, irritation, or literal pain. There are powers-that-be that have been aware of this and imposed it on fellow human beings. Fortunately most of us have not had to experience such an extreme negative incorporation of music.
Let’s move on, have some fun, and explore this diverse expressive transmission to see where the rhythm takes us…
THE FIRST ROCKERS
“I love rock n’ roll
So put another dime in the jukebox, baby!
I love rock n’ roll
So come and take your time and dance with me!” – Joan Jett
Music has been a part of human culture, almost without debate, from its inception. Rocks and sticks were most likely the first instruments. The discovery of metal would further diversify musical implementation into the culture. (Music rocked! Then got much harder with metal?)
Historical records date around 4000 to 3000 BC that Egyptians created harps and flutes; with strings of hair or plant fiber (The original hair-bands). Even back then people craved their music and found ways to be creative and advance it!
Perhaps the most popular and influential instrument of the modern era, the guitar, was created in 1500 BC by the Hittites. These strings were made of animal intestine and wound with silk.
In 800 BC the first recovered piece of recorded music was discovered. It was a religious hymn from Ugarit in Syria and was written in cuneiform (So it never went gold, but made the clay charts?).
Music has grown and transformed with human culture since our beginnings. The discovery of electricity along the way literally amplified how we perceive and listen to music. Its evolution has witnessed a transition from prehistoric instruments of raw earth and animal parts to advanced technological digital formats. Today, untalented musical artists can become famous and make six figures a year for using computer programs that alter their voice and compose their music for them. (That in itself makes me feel a certain way).
EMOTION AND MEMORY
“Sing us a song, you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well, we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you’ve got us feelin’ alright!” – Billy Joel
Music transmits and affects emotion. When we listen to a song, our heart syncs with the rhythm. This has a direct link to our brain. Fast beats will cause excitement, and slower beats will relax us. Similarly, tone will affect the brain as well. Major keys will promote the feeling of joy, whereas minor keys will tend to promote sadness.
In those joyful experiences of music, the brain produces chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine, giving us those “chills” in our skulls and down our spines. The addiction that people who follow bands can experience, has largely to do with the euphoria the live music and shared interaction with others generates at a concert, due to this effect.
Music then, becomes more than just a fleeting sound into the atmosphere. It can be a complete experience. And Like all we encounter, music is an experience that stays with us, and becomes part of our memory. You may not remember the first song you heard, but most likely you remember, even as an infant, the music your parents listened to and you grew up with.
The sound of a familiar song can take us back to an era, for better or worse. These lucid echoes of the past carry rippled recollections of the sounds and visuals, of and associated with, the music of the time; including the places we’ve been, the people we were with, along with how we were feeling.
This audible communication is of course not always so directly injected into our being. Humans are very prone to build a tolerance for any substance that affects them chemically. Two other major factors that can desensitize us, or break us, are repetition and trauma (We’ll get into this in just a bit).
But we tend to get used to things regardless; sometimes out of the development of apathy, and other times by a heightened sense of awareness.
An objective listener will not be affected chemically through the emotional element of music. Instead, like watching a movie or reading a book, the stirring message is perceived with a detached, empathetic view. The listener may not feel a certain way about a song, but they understand in essence the notion or sentiment the artist is conveying.
Tonality of voice, the lyrics, or beat, rhythm, and tone change ups can simply let us know what’s going on within the song as we actively listen. Movies do this all the time with music to set the mood, or to foreshadow a particular event a character is about to go through.
Like emotion, our minds can turn off sound too. Have you ever “not heard” an air conditioner or refrigerator until it turned off? Seasoned parents may share in this auto-turned-off detachment by way of a child incessantly crying to get what it wants.
Here we can continue to see how music and moods go hand in hand.
MUSIC IN HEALING AND MOTIVATION
“One good thing about music
When it hits you feel no pain
So hit me with music
Hit me with music now” – Bob Marley
Music is associated with good healing vibes. Even through our speech we directly associate music with our moods. We exclaim that good news is like “music to the ears.” There’s even a whole genre of music devoted to mood. Ever hear of the Blues? People find solace in relating to this style of music to not feel alone in, or to ride out, their melancholy.
Ironically this promotes healing.
Music has the power to be felt. Therefore, it is an energy, a force, a mind lifter. It moves us. Yes, music can literally get us up and moving! It can improve health through the positive emotional experiences that increases immune-boosting hormones.
Music can also help us block out emotion as much it can induce it. Fans use it as a form of escapism from their feelings of woe. Participation in meditative practice and music can alter brainwave speeds and help us find the calm center to relax. In this case, emotions aren’t blocked, we can actually learn to control them!
The music we listen to can also be a distractor form physical pain. Weight lifters, joggers, and bicyclists focus on upbeat tempos to distract from fatigue and other body stresses during their activities. Music is like a good friend; being there for you during a rough patch. It gives us that motivation to continue through and move forward in so many scenarios.
Characters on-screen have their own theme music and montage sessions for a reason. These are the times to get pumped and ready for action!!
On yet another benefit, relaxing music, such as classical or jazz, can actually lower blood pressure. Healing is promoted on both ends of our emotional spectrum through the genres we listen to.
In so many cases, music is a popular favorite natural supplement in all walks of life. So…
Q: Why might a psychiatrist never recommend music?
A: It’s free, and they’d lose a customer or a prescription kick-back.
The healing factors of music have been documented. There’s no disputing that. Those at the top of our social hierarchy are completely aware of the diverse power of music for the good of humanity. But you can’t have pleasure without a bit of pain.
MUSIC IN PAIN AND MANIPULATION
“I love you
You love me
We’re a happy family
With a great big hug
And a kiss from me to you
Won’t you say you love me too?!” – Barney and his dino-pals
What also has been documented, is the use of music to cause disruption or pain in the form of torture.
Q: What can be just as powerful as money?
Well, both money and information have been acquired through the medium of music.
Obviously the music industry and its artists make money off the music. Unfortunately many musicians are duped in their contract and underpaid by big corporations. Yes, this is a sad song. But frankly, I’m not in the mood to talk about that topic. So we’re gonna skip that track.
We’re waxing music and emotion, so let’s put the music back on!!
“Music is used, again, both in a positive way and as a disincentive” – Cpt. John Kirby Deputy Asst. S.O.D. for Media Operations
The CIA has admitted to using music at Guantanamo Bay as a “disincentive” for its prisoners. A Barney theme song was believed to be one of the sources of tunes played during these sessions. Metallica made this list as well. Cpt. John Kirby was asked if Barney was used. While he did not answer directly, repeated that “torture was not used.”
The use of torture, in meaning and practice, can be very subjective (based on various degrees of afflictions, perceptions, and ideals). But, music does have the potential to be downright torture!! Would you care to imagine being tied up, left in the dark, and forced to listen to music you despise? Something says your mood will not be pleasant.
One man’s favorite country tune is another man’s nails on the chalkboard.
Similarly, in breaking the will of a prisoner for submission or information, the use of repetitive music is known to be used for brainwashing and mind-control in the indoctrination into cults by its leader and members. These repetitions are paired with the constant glorification of the leader or God-head, group chanting, and psychological demeaning tactics to elicit submission and conversion of a recruit.
Enlightenment sounds like it can be a painful process.
While some music fans have found their Zen through their favorite music (gluten and cult-free), others have become lost, carried away as hate plays the theme in the background of their life. Dark music, like positive music, carries and can transmit the accompanying emotions. Therefore, it can be unhealthy to listen to that type of music.
Long periods of fast dramatic music can lead to cortisol and nor adrenaline production. With this repetition, and without activity or a real flight or fight situation, a chemical crash can occur. Chemical crashes are known to induce depression.
Prolonged submersion further affects the psyche negatively.
Death Rock is a popular culprit of this particular instigation. A study in music preference indicators associated Hard Rock and Metal music with potential unhealthy psychological effects in adolescents. My curiosity is piqued to whether Emo is a front or result of the music. I may be too mainstream to understand.
Regardless, In all health realms, we need to be mindful of what we feed ourselves and how we are affected through these various consumptions.
The pervasive presence and effects of music in our culture have impacted and influenced so much of our history and lives. It affects almost all of our mental facets. Through memory it can serve as a map of our experiences. Music has helped many find their desired path and ways through dark times.
It is true that music has been used negatively for manipulation and mind control. But it’s only a fraction of how most experience it. Healing factors of music are powerful, and these positive influences seem to outweigh the negatives ten fold.
Knowing all sides of a subject is necessary to understanding it. It’s part of the balance in the education of human nature.
How we feel about our existence and how we act is reflected in the music we create and listen to. Like so much in life, we have the choice of how we view and to what degree we implement music along our way. But there’s practically no avoiding it.
Humans speak, breathe, create, and live music. It’s wrapped in our individualistic being of expression. It’s a huge part of our social engagements and relations. We pick our music almost like we pick our friends; at least like our taste in the clothing we wear. We can, in the figurative sense, wear our emotions and our music on our sleeves; even if those sleeves happen to literally be a tattooed mosaic of all our favorite bands.
THANKS FOR READING. IF YOU ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE, OR HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR FEEDBACK, PLEASE LEAVE THEM IN THE COMMENT SECTION BELOW.
– Mark G ; – )