How music affects psychology and vice versa

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Music! A powerful tool which can affect your psychology so much. Music, indeed, has psychoacoustic properties which can activate any of your emotions, most of the time, instantly. But how can music affect your emotional world so much?

It’s all about vibrations. In reality, music is just a combination of sounds. A sound is a group of waves produced from a sound source and transmitted through the air until they reach our ears. These waves are alternations of air pressure. When a sound source starts to vibrate, it pushes the air around it back and forth, causing it to increase and decrease its pressure repeatedly. These vibrations (increasing and decreasing the air pressure), when they arrive at our ears, they are translated into sound. Now, you might wonder why these vibrations affect our psychology.

There is a repetition of vibrations at a specific time. The more flexible the sound source, the lower the number of repeats. The less flexible the sound source, the higher the number of repetitions. This number of vibrations is what we call frequencies. In music, a variety of frequencies are produced simultaneously. When these frequencies match, the sound is harmonious. If not, the sound is disharmonious. When a sound is pleasant, the psychology of the listener is good. This effect happens because the human brain also works with frequencies. Frequencies which match make the brain receive a clear message from the outer world. Our mind translates this message to: “everything is under control.” When the brain gets frequencies which don’t match, the message it receives is confusing. A confusing message means that “something isn’t right.” When something goes wrong, our psychology decreases because more negative emotions appear. I have already talked to another article about our negative emotions, which are our protectors. You can check it out!

That’s how music affects psychology. Confusing vibrations mean something is wrong. Precise vibrations, the opposite. So simple!

How does this apply to music? The scales, chords, rhythm, and performance of the musicians are all factors which affect the vibrations produced through their music. Positive music has a smooth wave of vibrations. Negative music has a clumsy wave of vibrations. When these vibrations arrive at your brain, it activates the required emotions according to the situation. When the message of the oscillations is clear, it triggers positive emotions that help you relax and be joyful. If the message is confusing, it activates negative emotions, which help you prepare for a fight, running, hiding, or anything needed to protect yourself.

The same applies to music according to the psychology of the performer or the composer. When the composer experience negative emotions, the vibrations inside him are confusing, that’s why he uses the musical tools (scales, rhythms, harmony) in a way that he can send a message that «something is wrong.» When he experiences positive emotions, he wants to send a clear message that everything is ok. That’s why he choose to use these tools in that way.

As you see, it’s all about the message you send (as a musician) or receive (as a listener). This message is sent by vibrations through the air and arrives at our ears. These vibrations are what we call “sound”. A combination of sounds is what produces “music”!

Fotis Tampas (De Tao).


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