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If You Think Music Is Just an Entertainment, You’re Living in a Nutshell

If You Think Music Is Just an Entertainment, You’re Living in a Nutshell

We have all been in this situation. You’re in some bar or club, the music is loud, you’re not in the mood to dance. But while the track plays, you notice your fingers tapping, or your head nodding, or your knees bending to the music. To wallflower guy like me, it can cause all kinds of awkwardness.

But why is this? Why can something inherently artificial like music, especially electronic music, cause an almost unconscious physical reaction in people? And also why dance? What benefits does it have? These are questions that have been in my mind a lot lately, so, I began to explore.

When we’re tapping our fingers, something’s happening in our brains.

What is interesting, is that dancing seems to appear in many cultures, without influence from each other. Culture X may have a totally different musical style from culture Y, yet they may at times find themselves moving to the rhythm of their music.

Consider the different kinds of First Nation tribal dances, and European forms, though different in style and motive, they generally form the same function and basically boil down to rhythmic moving to music. Going back thousands of years, there was even a dance culture in ancient Egypt.[1] Dancing then is totally human.

You don’t need to look far to see more evidence of this, babies, with no real cultural expectation or conditioning dance to music (though…not very well).

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On a deeper level, scientists have found that music stimulates certain regions of the brain, particularly the Ventral Striatum, and the Orbitofrontal Cortex.[2] These parts of the brain are key regions generating pleasure, emotional responses and rewarding them. Interestingly these parts of the brain are more stimulated if you like certain songs.

    There are some suggestions that motor regions of our brain are also attuned to this, and also that motor regions of the brain are somewhat triggered when we see others moving. So you may be more likely to dance when others are around you dancing. It is understood that the body derives pleasure from movement. So when this is combined with the subconscious pleasure also got from music, you essentially get double the pleasure response.

    Music is a combination of rhythm and melody. (But we know it’s more than that.)

    Deep down all music is creatively arranged vibrations.[3] These vibrations arranged in pitch, tempo, rhythm, harmony, and melody.[4] Different instruments and the human voice form these vibrations differently, but fundamentally, music is sound, and sound is vibration.

    But this kind of explanation takes all the fun out of it.

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    Pointing out that the Mona Lisa is just bits of color on a canvas, or that John Coltrane was just really good at manipulating vibrations, doesn’t explain why millions of people go to the Louve gallery specifically to see the Mona Lisa or why Coltrane was one of the best Jazz (Jazz of course originating as a fusion of multiple international musical styles) performers of all time.[5]

    There is something else.

    Music is more than just a form of entertainment.

    Generally we consider music either a mere form of entertainment, something brought and used like a good film or video game. At best we see music as just an art form, perhaps the cooler, more popular cousin (who gets invited to all the good parties) of literature.

    However I would go so far to say that music is closer to a form of communication, one that exceeds all cultural boundaries.

    For example, I admit it, I am a really into folk and roots music. Lately I’ve been listening to the Norwegian folksinger Siri Nielsen, her voice is angelic….and I have no idea what she is singing about. If I pick up a book published in a language I can’t read (which is pretty much all languages) then it is inaccessible. But this is not the case with music.

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    All cultures throughout history have had some form of musical culture. This is a nice idea, the next time you listen to your favorite band, or a good piece of music, you’re involved in an activity that humans have done throughout all history.

    And maybe the creation of music is to change people’s mood and mind.

    People have been trying to answer that answer for centuries. Charles Darwin for example proposed that music was invented as a kind of sophisticated come on, like some animal mating ritual. This makes sense as the majority of popular music are love songs, or straight up unambiguously about sex.[6]

    Another popular theory, the theory I personally agree with, was that music was created as a way to form social groups.[7] We often see music now as an individual experience.

    We’re used to being by ourselves, blasting out our favorite song. Thanks to headphones, we can be surrounded by people, but be the only one to hear music. Because of this, it is easy to forget, that prior to the invention and popularity of recorded sound, the only way to listen to music was to hear it live.

    We still love the social aspect of music, we can hear our favorite band in perfect sound quality for a fraction of the price, but few would ever say that listening to an MP3 is a better experience than seeing the band live.

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    This is why we love music and dancing, it is the total humanity of it. Our core biology reacts and gives us pleasure from the music we love, and the music we love brings us together. This is something music has always done, and always will do, and why music matters.

    Infographic credit: FineMinds

    Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

    Reference

    [1] University of Birmingham: Communication Through Music in Ancient Egyptian Religion
    [2] Scientific American: Why do we like to dance–And move to the beat?
    [3] Psychology Today: What is Music Exactly?
    [4] mfiles: What is music?
    [5] The New York Times: The Prehistory of Jazz The Africanization of American Music
    [6] BBC: Is Music Really All About Sex?
    [7] National Geographic: Why Did Humans Invent Music?

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    Arthur Peirce

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    Last Updated on October 16, 2019

    5 Powerful Ways for Building Fulfilling Relationships

    5 Powerful Ways for Building Fulfilling Relationships

    We all have relationships. We have acquaintances, relatives, colleagues, neighbors and friends. However, for a large percentage of us, many of these relationships are not fulfilling.

    They are unfulfilling because they lack real strength; and they lack real strength because they lack real depth.

    Unfortunately, in today’s society, we tend to have shallow, superficial relationships with others, and it’s extremely hard for this kind of relationships to provide anything more than faint satisfaction.

    I’d like to show you, based on my experience as a communication and confidence coach, how you can add a significant amount of depth, and thus strength, to your relationships and make your social life a whole lot more meaningful.

    Here’re 5 simple yet powerful ways for meaningful relationships building:

    1. Meet More People

    This is an apparent paradox, but the quality of the people you meet has considerably to do with the quantity of people you meet.

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    If you don’t know a lot of people and you barely meet one or two new people every season of the year, considering the variety of individuals out there, you won’t meet very often people who are a good match with you in terms of personality, interests and values.

    And since this natural match plays a huge part in building strong relationships, you’ll just as seldom have the opportunity to develop strong relationships.

    Conversely, if you go out a lot, you meet a lot of new people and you constantly expand your social circle, you’re much more likely to meet people you match up well with, and these people have a tremendous potential to become good friends, reliable partners, etc.

    This is why it’s important to meet more people.

    2. Talk about the Things That Matter To You

    A relationship becomes the strongest when two people discover they believe in the same things and have similar interests. It’s these commonalities regarding values and interests that create the strongest emotional connection.

    I’ve noticed that many people keep conversations shallow. They talk about trivial stuff such as the weather, what’s on TV, the lives of various movie stars, but they rarely talk about what really matters to them in life. This is a mistake from my perspective, because it’s the perfect method for a relationship to not develop.

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    Talk about the things that truly matter to you and give others a chance to know what you care about and what you believe in. If they believe in the same things and they care about the same things, they’ll eagerly let you know. Thus you’ll find meaningful common ground and you’ll feel more connected.

    3. Express Vulnerability

    Many people try to come off as perfect. They don’t talk about their failures, they hide their shortcomings and they never say anything that could embarrass them.

    This is all just a facade though. You may appear perfect to some, but you know you’re not perfect and they know that too. You’re only human and humans have flaws.

    However, by hiding your flaws, what you do succeed in is appearing cold and impersonal. You seem like a marble statue rather than a real person. And this makes it very hard for anyone to connect with you emotionally.

    Humans connect with other humans, not with ideals. Keep this in mind and don’t be afraid to let your vulnerability and your humanity show. This is what takes a relationship to the next level.

    Take a look at this article and find out Why Showing Vulnerability Actually Proves Your Strength.

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    4. Have Integrity

    Integrity, as I see it, is the alignment between your thoughts, your words and your actions. When you say what you think and you do what you said you’ll do, you have integrity.

    This is a crucial trait because if you have integrity, people can trust you. They can trust you to give them an honest feedback, even when it’s hard to shallow, and they can trust you to keep your promises.

    This trust is one of the central pillars of a strong relationship, both in your personal and your professional life. So, as challenging as it can be sometimes, always try to have integrity.

    Be honest with the people around you, even when this will initially hurt them. It’s more important for them to trust you than to not feel hurt. And always do what you promised. Even better, think twice before you promise anything, and only promise what you really can and you are willing to do.

    5. Be There for Others

    Another central pillar of strong relationships is support. Connections between people grow sturdy if they can rely on each other for support when it’s needed, whether that support means a few kind words or several massive actions.

    Of course, you can’t be there for everybody, all the time. Your time, energy and other resources are limited. But what you can do is identify the genuinely important people in your life and then seek to be there as much as possible, at least for them.

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    Your support will help them practically, and it will comfort them emotionally; which makes one hell of a difference in a relationship.

    The Bottom Line

    With the right mindset and the right behavior, you can strengthen a wide range of relationships in your life and advance them as far as they can be advanced.

    And with strong relationships, not only that you feel more fulfilled, but you feel more connected to the entire world. You feel that your life has real value, you have more fun and you live in the moment. An entire world of opportunities opens up in front of you.

    Then your task is to simply walk through the open doors.

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