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Wonder Why Some Music Gives You Chills? Science Has The Answer!

Wonder Why Some Music Gives You Chills? Science Has The Answer!

Ever wondered why certain pieces of music or songs make you all teary even though you cannot entirely relate to the subject? You probably think it is because you are able to empathize with the author since you have had some similar experience, or that your emotional nature is the reason why great musical notes move you. See the performance of Susan Boyle below to see what I mean.

Even after seven years this Susan Boyle performance doesn’t fail to give me goose bumps and brings tears to my eyes. It is such a great, emotional piece of music. Whether it is the amazing lyrics, the powerful voice, or the emotional music, or everything combined, it never seizes to evoke a nostalgic feeling–even to the most cynical of us.

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The Science of Appoggiatura

Science has different answers. The key is actually in the little musical device called appoggiatura. In essence, appoggiatura is a musical ornament where dissonance is created only to quickly resolve to consonance. According to Martin Guhn, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia: “This generates tension in the listener. When the notes return to the anticipated melody, the tension resolves, and it feels good.”

What Does Appoggiatura have to do with Emotions?

Guhn co-wrote a 2007 study on the subject of effects appoggiatura has on human emotions, yet this wasn’t the first research of the sort. Over twenty years ago, British psychologist John Sloboda made similar findings. It showed that 18 out of 20 song passages that evoked deep emotions among listeners, contained appoggiaturas. These ornaments, when repeated will provoke a chemical reaction in our brains that ultimately leads to tears. “The music taps into this very primitive system that we have which identifies emotion on the basis of a violation of expectancy,” Dr. Sloboda says. “It’s like a little upset which then gets resolved or made better in the chord that follows.” The tension release cycle ultimately makes us feel good due to the release of dopamine into the pleasure centers of our brain, which makes us addicted, as a 2013 study finds. That’s why you get that happy sad feeling while listening to emotionally charged songs, no matter what the nature of emotions is.  This may come as a shock to all of you who thought you were just too emotional.

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Adele’s Song: Someone Like You

The same could be said to Adele’s 2012 award winning ballad Someone Like You. Most of us would attribute the enormous success of the song to Adele’s powerful voice, beautiful music, and the fact that so many people can relate to a story about past love and regrets. Those elements most certainly made it one of the most moving ballads of the decade. But, appoggiaturas also may have something to do with it. Adele’s ballad abounds with these undeniably. In fact, it can be most easily noted every time “that” comes along, such as in “that you found a girl” and in “that your dreams came true”. Here, “that your” is a chord, where “that” is dissonant to the chord and quickly resolves. That is the moment when the tension creates.

According to Sloboda: “Our brains are wired to pick up the music that we expect. And generally music is consonant rather than dissonant, so we expect a nice chord. So when that chord is not quite what we expect, it gives you a little bit of an emotional frisson, because it’s strange and unexpected.” The release that follows makes us feel happy after a moment of tension, which “tricks” our brain into feeling pleasure. So, to say that listening to sad songs provides guilty pleasure isn’t that far from the truth.

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Science Behind Musical Creativity?

It would be quite unfair to put something as creative and emotional as writing and performing honest music, to such formulaic and technical terms as appoggiaturas. When writing an emotional song about personal past hurt, artists certainly don’t indulge in counting the appoggiaturas. Yet, the device goes beyond our ability to empathize with the lines as it makes us addicted to the emotion the overall performance evokes.

Featured photo credit: https://www.youtube.com/ via youtube.com

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Ana Erkic

Social Media Consultant, Online Marketing Strategist, Copywriter, CEO and Co-Founder of Growato

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Last Updated on May 28, 2020

How to Overcome Boredom

How to Overcome Boredom

Have you ever been bored? Restless? Fidgety? In need of some inspiration?

I have a theory on boredom. I believe that the rate of boredom has increased alongside the pace of technology.

If you think about it, technology has provided us with mobile phones, laptops, Ipads, device after device – all to ultimately fix one problem: boredom.

What is Boredom?

We have become a global nation that feeds on entertainment. We associate ‘living’ with ‘doing’. People now do not know how to sit still, and we feel guilty when we are not doing anything. Today, inactivity has become the ultimate sin.

You might not realize it, but boredom stimulates a form of anxiety and stress. It evokes an emotional state that creates frustration and feeds procrastination.

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It’s a desire to be ‘doing something’ or to be ‘entertained’ – it’s a desire for sensory stimulation. What it boils down to is a lack of focus.

If you think about those times when you’re bored, it’s usually because you did not know what to do. So, indecision also plays a big part.

When we are focused on what’s important to us and what we want to achieve, it’s pretty hard to be bored. So, one answer to boredom is to become focused on what you want.

Sometimes It’s Good to Be Bored

If boredom is a desire for sensory stimulation – then what’s the opposite of that? To be content with no stimulation – in other words – to enjoy stillness.

Sometimes, it’s not boredom itself that causes the frustration but the resistance to doing nothing.

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Think about it. What would happen if you were to ‘let go’ of the desire to be entertained? You wouldn’t be bored anymore, and you will feel more relaxed!

In my experience, it’s often the most obvious, simplistic solutions that are the most powerful in life. So, when you’re bored, the easiest way to combat this is to enjoy it.

It may sound weird but think of ‘boredom’ as a form of ‘relaxation’. It’s a break from the constant stimulation that 21st-century living provides – constant TVs, mobile phones, radios, internet, emails, phone calls, etc.

Who knows, maybe ‘boredom’ is actually good for us?

Next time you’re ‘feeling bored’ instead of feeding the frustration by frantically looking for something to do, maybe you can sit back, relax, and savor the feeling of having nothing to do.

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In this article, I’ll share with you my 3-step strategy on how to overcome boredom.

3-Step Strategy to Overcome Boredom

1. Get Focused

Instead of chasing sensory stimulation at random, focus on what’s really important to you. Focusing on something important helps prevent boredom because it forces you to utilize your time productively.

You should ask yourself: what would make good use of your time? What could you be doing that would contribute to your major goals in life?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Spend some time in quiet contemplation considering what’s important to you.
  • Start that creative project you’ve been talking about for the last few weeks.
  • Brainstorm: think of some ideas for new innovative products or businesses.

2. Kill Procrastination

Boredom is useful in some ways because it gives you the energy and time to do things. It is only a problem if you let it. But if you use it to motivate yourself to be productive, then you can more easily overcome boredom.

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So, the next time you’re bored, why not put this good energy to use by ticking off those things that you have been meaning to get done but have been too busy to finish? This also presents a great time for you to clear your to-do list.

Here are some ideas:

  • Do some exercise.
  • Read a book.
  • Learn something new.
  • Call a friend.
  • Get creative (draw, paint, sculpt, create music, write).
  • Do a spring cleaning.
  • Wash the car.
  • Renovate the house.
  • Re-arrange the furniture.
  • Write your shopping list.
  • Water the plants.
  • Walk the dog.
  • Sort out your mail & email.
  • De-clutter (clear out that wardrobe).

3. Enjoy Boredom

If none of the above solutions work, then you can try a different approach. Don’t give in to boredom and instead choose to enjoy it. This doesn’t mean allowing yourself to waste your time being bored. Instead, think of it as your time to relax and re-energize, which will help you be more productive the next time you work.

Contrary to popular belief, we don’t need to be constantly doing things to be productive. In fact, research has shown that people are more productive when they take periods of rest to recharge.[1] Taking breaks once in a while helps boost your performance and can help make you feel more motivated.

So, take some time to relax. You never know, you might even like it.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to overcome boredom may be difficult at the beginning, but it can be easier if you make use of some techniques. You can start with my 3-step strategy on how to overcome boredom and work your way from there. So, ready your mind and make use of these tips, and you will be overcoming boredom in no time.

More Tips on Overcoming Boredom

Featured photo credit: Johnny Cohen via unsplash.com

Reference

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