The way that another person’s work—another person’s livelihood—can have such a detrimental influence on the identities, moods and emotions of others shows our interconnectedness.
Music is distinct because it allows people to connect to what they hear. Whether it’s the words the artist uses, the sound of the instruments hitting those invisible strings inside the head, each sound coordinating to a different mood or emotion or the dedication and hard work the artist puts into each piece, music can play an integral part in everyone’s life.
My relationship with music is strong. I use it as a comfort, a system of support, a metaphorical blanket to hide under. Whenever I feel the need to resonate with a feeling or attitude, I know a go-to song that will help me out. What gives it an edge over other coping methods is that it is ever-changing, but its purpose remains the same.
When you find an artist that you like, they do their part in releasing new songs as their career advances. These new songs open a new realm of possibilities, a new assortment of colors for your own personal artwork, allowing you the opportunity to pick up your paintbrush and blend these colors, these songs, into your life and your story.
Oftentimes it feels like the songs are able to hear me. I don’t literally mean the artist is listening to my problems or needs, but that when a song resonates with me and brings feelings of, let’s say happiness, I feel a sense of comfort that no matter what my situation, the song is showing me that someone else has felt these emotions—that what I may be going through is just another part of being human – being alive.
In a New York Times opinion piece, Robert J. Zatorre and Valerie N. Salimpoor describe the connection people develop with music as one that can cause certain chemical changes to occur to a person’s levels of dopamine within the brain. “When pleasurable music is heard, dopamine is released in the striatum,” they write.
The article says the striatum is a part of the brain “which is known to respond to naturally rewarding stimuli like food and sex and which is artificially targeted by drugs like cocaine and amphetamine.”
Even now, while writing this, the music I am playing has influenced my words and tone. It sets an expectation—which draws on my prior experiences—that as I write this article, I’ll find a serenity that I’ve been missing these past couple of months and that motivates me to continue.
When someone is feeling sad or upset, listening to a genre that resembles these feelings can often cause them to feel more readily equipped to deal with the emotion. When someone is happy, and experiencing a core moment with a friend or family member, often people corroborate the memory with a specific song. A perfect example of this is when an engaged couple picks their wedding song.
The uncontrolled factors, such as time of day and weather also trigger certain responses to these different pieces of art.
The ability of humans to develop a connection so significant to something that is not tangible or alive and give such deep meaning to the words or rhythms is truly remarkable. It makes me marvel at the beauty of being alive and human, a privilege we all share and many often take for granted.
We celebrate birth by singing “Happy Birthday,” we commemorate a marriage with the well known “Here Comes the Bride,” we even mourn death in our own unique ways with the help of songs that carry with them memories of our beloved ones. That is the beauty and the art of music.
Next time you go to bed and plug in your headphones blasting your favorite songs to drown out the outside world, think how that song makes you feel, what memories that song brings and why, out of all the songs in this universe, did you choose this specific song?