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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 July 5, 2019

5 Reasons Why You Should Always Be Yourself

5 Reasons Why You Should Always Be Yourself

When it comes to being yourself, there can be a lot of pressure from the outside world as it tries to influence who you are. Living in a society that is constantly developing, it’s important for you to always be yourself from the inside out. When you deeply know yourself and the boundaries that you have set, you are more likely to experience a fulfilling and rewarding life. Without knowing yourself and establishing those boundaries, you can easily be pushed around and end up on a dirt path.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” – Matthew 7:13-14

You have the option of taking the path that is broad or taking the path that is narrow. You can either conform to what life wants you to be, or have the courage to remain true to yourself throughout the years. It’s definitely a challenge to have a strong sense of self when we are constantly getting distracted and being influenced by the media and society’s way of life. But if you want to reach your fullest potential in life, it all starts with being yourself.

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Why should you always be yourself?

Because you will:

  1. Live in alignment with your values and beliefs. Being yourself is all about knowing what you believe in and the values that you live by. When you are not yourself, you will take on the values and beliefs of others. This is when you start conforming to other people’s expectations and way of thinking. When you know your values and why you do what you do, you will live according to your own values and beliefs.
  2. Establish your own identity. When you are able to have a solid foundation of being you, you are establishing your own sense of identity. No matter what happens in your life, you will always know who you are. There will be times where you may feel lost or distracted, but if you have your own identity you’ll be able to get back on the right path. Without establishing your own identity, you may easily conform and lose yourself.
  3. Build courage. It takes a great amount of courage when you decide to take the path that goes against the crowd. The reason why the majority of people take the broad path is because it’s easy. It’s easy to just follow the crowd. It’s more of a challenge when you stay true to yourself and establish your own identity. This challenge of always being yourself takes courage and inner strength. No matter what comes your way, you’ll know how to handle it.
  4. Establish boundaries. When you are always yourself, you know what your limits are and the boundaries that you have set for yourself. When people cross your boundaries, you will know. But if you don’t establish boundaries, people may very well walk all over you and take advantage of you. If you are always yourself and you establish boundaries, you are more likely to be aware when people start taking advantage of you. Create and establish your boundaries.
  5. Find focus and direction. When you are always yourself, you are more likely to have focus and direction in your life. Imagine someone who is constantly conforming to other people’s expectations. Do you think this person has focus and direction? I don’t think so. When you stay true to who you are, you are more likely to know the goals you want to accomplish and how to go about accomplishing them. You are able to stay focused and know which direction to take in order for you to accomplish your goals.

No matter what you experience in life, the only person that will always remain constant is you.

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Featured photo credit: María Victoria Heredia Reyes via unsplash.com

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