Music is extremely effective in transmitting emotion and affecting moods. There is an intangible communication that happens. I think part of it is that our bodies try to match the environments that we are in. The tempo (speed) affects our body rhythms (heart rate and breathing). Harmony and dissonance can effect whether we feel whether things are at peace or in conflict. There are many emotional cues that we take in through our senses with music that we may not be consciously aware of.
Then there are other ways that the music can affect us. Maybe people might relate to something personal in the story or lyric or the song? The most moving and universal songs are ones that lots of different people can see their own emotion or story in. It is normal to view the song through the lens of our own experience since that’s how we perceive the world.
I also think that music has a wonderful way of taking an emotional snap shot of what you were feeling when you listen to a particular song. There are songs that I remember from parts of my life that evoke my outlook and emotion at the time that I listened to them. I was listening to something recently that I loved in college and I had this emotional flashback of feeling like who I was at that time. I felt sad because I grieved a little for that person that was innocent and had a million possibilities before them.
There are sometimes songs that remind me of specific people. Maybe they introduced me to the song or they loved the song. So then the feelings I have are all tied up in how I feel about that person that it reminds me of.
Then there are moments when I feel like music evokes something so profound in me that I feel like crying. In those moments it’s not always logical to me why I’m so moved. It could be that it makes me have a realization or sense of understanding or sometimes it can just be that something is so beautiful that I get an emotional overload.
A few weeks ago one of my students brought in a song called ‘For Forever’ from ‘Dear Evan Hansen’. As she started playing and singing it, I literally was on the verge of tears. The lyric, melody and piano parts so perfectly capture the feeling that anyone who’s ever had a childhood best friend can relate to. Between the song itself and my student who did such a beautiful job expressing it I was really moved. Music is like that. Even though I’ve spent my life learning and trying to understand how it works, there is always going to be a part of it that is magical. Try to figure out why that song affected you so much. You’ll probably learn something about yourself.
Here is Kate playing and singing ‘For Forever’ from my Instagram Instagram post by Suzan Stroud • Jul 29, 2017 at 12:52am UTC It was too beautiful not to capture and share…).