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Why Does Music Affect Our Emotions?

Why does music make us so “emotional”? Regardless of the genre; whether we love or hate Classical, Jazz, Rock, “New Age”, Reggae, or Punk – we can’t ignore it.  We can always hear “music” in a bird’s trilling, and “rhythm” from the patter of rain on a roof.

Some say that our sense of sound and rhythm comes from the rhythmic beating of a mother’s heart and the rush of blood through her arteries as we wait patiently in the womb. Although there is no real evidence of that, whatever the source, we somehow naturally still respond to rhythm, syncopation and sound.

Music is the one common human trait that transcends cultures, politics, and race.  Yet, Music IS culture, to love or hate because it evokes and heightens associations. Listen to a movie sound track: the hurried tense rhythms of a car chase, the sweet melodies of a love scene, or the raucous irrelevance of a comedy. Music heightens the actions and emotions without intruding. Without it, the emotion and action of the scene is lessened.

Why music evokes emotions is still a mystery. Sights and sounds obviously have emotional associations of danger or safety. Colors are evocative, and also trigger emotions: Red – the color of blood – connotes “danger”. Yellow is associated with sickness and disease, and blues calm our senses by evoking images of clear skies and calm seas. But color itself does not make us cry, laugh or cause us to rise from our seats, applauding and cheering when we see it. Artists cannot “compose” a entirely new color, only shades of the original. Music is always unique, the notes and tempos familiar, heard every day, but always different,  always new.

Only music touches the secret part of our soul so deeply and mysteriously.