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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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