Some species-ist snobs will tell you an enjoyment of music is unique to humans, but if you’ve ever seen a galah go nuts to some fresh bangers, you’ll know that’s a lie.
Anyway, we come straight from the womb with a special affinityfor music. Babies love it, toddlers carry on like galahs and even the mosttone-deaf of us possesses the ability to enjoy rhythm, melody and/or cleverlyrics.
But onto the science. When we eat, sleep and have sex, achemical called dopamine is released from our brains. It’s a feel-goodneurochemical, and it’s associated with pleasure and rewards.
And it’s also released when we listen to music!
Not all music, obviously – there are songs you no doubthate, and the last thing you feel while listening to them is “pleasure andrewards”. But when you hear a tune that speaks to you on some level, those ancient,instinctive parts of your mindtanks are happy to flood your system with thesame feelings that you get from a delicious meal or excellent night’s sleep.
Even more interesting: our brain has established pathways mapped out. It knows what kind of music we like, based on previous tastes. So the best way to feel really good in a musical sense is to listen to new music that is similar to the stuff you’re already into, but which is different enough to feel exciting.
This is the case even if you’re listening to depressing music because you’ve just gone through a break-up. It’s like a warm hug, making you feel like someone else understands. And, of course, we’ve talked up the benefit of music when you’re trying to get motivated or smash through some boring work.
That’s just listening to music. Actually playing it? That’s a whole different thing…
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