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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 15, 2019

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

As it appears, the human mind is not capable of not thinking, at least on the subconscious level. Our mind is always occupied by thoughts, whether we want to or not, and they influence our every action.

“Happiness cannot come from without, it comes from within.” – Helen Keller

When we are still children, our thoughts seem to be purely positive. Have you ever been around a 4-year old who doesn’t like a painting he or she drew? I haven’t. Instead, I see glee, exciting and pride in children’s eyes. But as the years go by, we clutter our mind with doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts.

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Just imagine then how much we limit ourselves in every aspect of our lives if we give negative thoughts too much power! We’ll never go after that job we’ve always wanted because our nay-saying thoughts make us doubt our abilities. We’ll never ask that person we like out on a date because we always think we’re not good enough.

We’ll never risk quitting our job in order to pursue the life and the work of our dreams because we can’t get over our mental barrier that insists we’re too weak, too unimportant and too dumb. We’ll never lose those pounds that risk our health because we believe we’re not capable of pushing our limits. We’ll never be able to fully see our inner potential because we simply don’t dare to question the voices in our head.

But enough is enough! It’s time to stop these limiting beliefs and come to a place of sanity, love and excitement about life, work and ourselves.

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So…how exactly are we to achieve that?

It’s not as hard as it may seem; you just have to practice, practice, practice. Here are a few ideas on how you can get started.

1. Learn to substitute every negative thought with a positive one.

Every time a negative thought crawls into your mind, replace it with a positive thought. It’s just like someone writes a phrase you don’t like on a blackboard and then you get up, erase it and write something much more to your liking.

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2. See the positive side of every situation, even when you are surrounded by pure negativity.

This one is a bit harder to put into practice, which does not mean it’s impossible.

You can find positivity in everything by mentally holding on to something positive, whether this be family, friends, your faith, nature, someone’s sparkling eyes or whatever other glimmer of beauty. If you seek it, you will find it.

3. At least once a day, take a moment and think of 5 things you are grateful for.

This will lighten your mood and give you some perspective of what is really important in life and how many blessings surround you already.

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4. Change the mental images you allow to enter your mind.

How you see yourself and your surroundings make a huge difference to your thinking. It is like watching a DVD that saddens and frustrates you, completely pulling you down. Eject that old DVD, throw it away and insert a new, better, more hopeful one instead.

So, instead of dwelling on dark, negative thoughts, consciously build and focus on positive, light and colorful images, thoughts and situations in your mind a few times a day.

If you are persistent and keep on working on yourself, your mind will automatically reject its negative thoughts and welcome the positive ones.

And remember: You are (or will become) what you think you are. This is reason enough to be proactive about whatever is going on in your head.

Featured photo credit: Kyaw Tun via unsplash.com

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