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How and why does music connect us to our emotions? Ask Adele @OfficialAdele and Plain White T’s @PlainWhiteTs

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People don’t tend to have the same reaction to the same song. Listeners will respond to the stimuli of particular associations connected to that song; usually the first time that they heard it. Music can unlock emotions that you might have consciously dealt with in order to function on a healthy and happy daily basis, but those emotions will still be triggered upon hearing that particular track. The track will transport you back to a certain time or event and you will emotionally and mentally re-live that experience. Professor John Sloboda of Keele University and author of Music and Emotion:

…that’s why music is more powerful than, for example, smell or  painting, it draws you into a sequence of re-lived experience.”


Just as music can evoke emotions which you may or may not wish to feel, it can also help you to work through problems or difficult experiences. The act of anchoring in Music Therapy, is essentially the process of attaching meaning to a track by listening to it whilst recalling a particular experience. This conditioning process is then repeated in order to gain access to that same emotional state in the future. An example would be the use of M People’s ‘Search For the Hero’ on countless highly emotionally-charged TV programmes and awards ceremonies – can you imagine ever associating that track with anything other than inner strength, resilience and optimism? As listeners and viewers, we have been conditioned to use that track as an anchor in order to access those very feelings and emotions within ourselves.

Have you ever automatically switched TV channels or flicked radio stations, almost without thinking, upon hearing the first few bars of a song? You know exactly what the song is and can recognise it in a few seconds and it is your natural instinct to stop the music, therefore stopping the anchoring process before it has chance to engage that very emotion that you wish to avoid. There are a handful of songs that I can’t listen to (two included here: I literally had to click on the YouTube link and close the page before the song started!) and I will do the same actions as outlined above, entirely on instinct. I don’t engage those emotions or mentally re-live those experiences on a day to day basis, but I am very aware that they are still there, lying dormant, just waiting to be accessed. The brain really is an amazing thing isn’t it and to all those people who claim that music is just background noise, think again! /

shelleyhanveywriter 🙂


Written by shelleyhanveywriter

June 15, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,

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