Grace Notes: Getting Emotional to Music

I’ve often noticed that if I’m listening to music while walking, running or on a journey, it will seriously effect what I daydream about. I wondered if there was a psychological reason behind this, or if I just have a strange and overactive imagination…


(I do not own this image)

For example, I went for a run earlier today and whilst running, ‘Into the West’ from the ‘Return of the King’ soundtrack came on my iPod. Now, I love this song, but it’s not great to run to. It kind of kills the mood and the lack of a fast beat makes me want to slow down and stop. So I changed it and put a whole load of The Pet Shop Boys on, so I could pretend I was in some sort of awesome fitness montage and actually good at running…. It worked though and got me going again so I completed my run.

Another instance was when I was walking home from work in Blackheath after ushering a very late concert finishing at midnight. To get home, I have to walk across a massive heath which is very open, dark and windy. I was quite happy walking along having a little groove to the ‘Joseph’ soundtrack when next up was the ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ soundtrack from the episode ‘Hush’ (see the video below). If you’ve seen that episode you’ll know the soundtrack is very prominent and creates nearly all of the atmosphere as there is practically no dialogue (everyone in Sunnydale has their voices stolen so they can’t scream when these terrifying demons cut out their hearts. Even now, this episode still gives me the creeps!). The techniques used are similar to other horror soundtracks (such as ‘Psycho’) with lots of high ‘twittering’ strings, ominous low brass and a creepy choral part. This was not what I needed when walking home on my own across a dark common. I changed it to some nice Seth Lakeman and my journey home was far more pleasant and no demons or scary monsters threatened to attack me. ­­­

I spent some time looking up how music effects our moods and emotions and came across a number of articles (linked below) that grabbed my interest. They all said in different ways that we are greatly affected my music in many ways, not just on an emotional level, but can be helpful to healing and stress. I obviously am surrounded by music almost all of the time. In Trinity Laban, I am either practicing, or can hear other people practicing and when at home one of us in the flat will have some music or the TV on. If we’ve had a stressful day, we’d naturally gravitate to upbeat ‘cheesy’ songs to sing along to and often this is the perfect relaxation technique.

So if you’re ever having trouble working, exercising, relaxing, or anything else, take a moment to think if you’re listening to the best sort of thing to help you out. It sound far too simple to have any affect, but I think you’ll be surprised with the result!


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