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Why Your Brain is Addicted to Music

Music is an easy thing to enjoy.  You don't have to be a scholar or well-versed in theoretical principles to understand a pop song.  In fact, you don't even have to understand how that pop song is made in order to feel a connection to the music.  But delving into music as a study has definitely helped me to appreciate more aspects of music that I had never thought of. 

Fancy Music

Fancy Music

I studied music (jazz specifically) at the university near my hometown and one of the first things they teach you in music theory is actually a physics lesson.  For those of you who have ever learned about "overtones" you'll know what I'm talking about.  Did you know that the reason music is so amazingly infectious and awesome is because the sounds in nature have a natural melody of notes that are imbedded in each sound?  Every note you've ever heard has a column of hidden and almost indistinguishable notes towered on top of it.  In theory we generalize that the first "overtone" that is most prevalent is one octave above the primary note, and then a 5th, and then a 4th, a 3rd, etc. etc. etc... All this really means is that when you hear an amazing sound from a song you can't get out of your head, it impacts you because those notes are playing with nature and your own natural, resonant preference.  You were born with it, like instinct...  It's the reason Major chords sound happy and Minor chords sound sad.  It's the reason that some things sound like music while other things are just "noise."  It is also the reason no matter how many people mock them, teeny-pop stars and bubble-gum songs make the most money and become soooooooooooo annoyingly addicting.  

This is also why music is considered to be one of the only universal languages--because everyone, every culture, and really every living thing is wired to the sounds of nature.  We manipulate these sounds to replicate the ones we like.  Different cultures develop different styles and preferences depending on what sounds they have become bored with over the years or what sounds they have grown accustomed to.  If we listen to these sounds, these preferences, instantly something core is revealed about that culture or about that person.  In listening to the music of someone else you are, in essence, reading their journal or seeing into their past (and possibly their future). 

This all sounds very philosophical and fluffy, but it is also based on scientific fact/research.  There is a growing field in the industry based on this premise and that field is resonating with humanitarians, musicians, and hippies: the field of music therapy.  The whole line of study is based on how sounds from nature and those manipulated my mankind can resonate so much and so intensely with a person that it  actually has healing qualities--mentally and some say physically as well. 

Using music to communicate with our bodies, with each other, across continents... it sounds too good to be true, right?  Music is not just an art, fun hobby or a "wasted major."  It is a frequently used, but little understood natural science--one of the earth's little miracles. 

Stephen Tobian - Manager at DanceBands.com