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Author Topic: Are there any scientific reasons why we like the music we like?  (Read 5790 times)

Herman Melville

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Are there any scientific reasons why we like the music we like? It's not purely about context/associations. Even very young children are affected strongly by some pieces of music and completely oblivious to others.

Is there any evidence that there are physical reasons why certain sounds, rhythms, tunes affect us?

I'm especially interested in this as I am a music nut and have no idea really why I like what I like.


 

Offline Yomi

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Music activates the same parts of the brain and causes the same neurochemical cocktail (Serotonin and dopamine) as a lot of other pleasurable activities like orgasms or eating chocolate -- or if you're a gambler winning a bet or using drugs if you're a drug user. Parts of the brain are also activated my the novelty of rhythm. This has to do with the way language has evolved in the brain. Music follow similar patterns to language, so our like for music may be a byproduct of our brains developing the patterns of language.


Because music makes them happy!
like me.....
When i was 7 i started playing the guitar and playing musical instruments>.....

then i started to love HIP HOP and RAP
Music makes me really happy!
 

Offline Raghavendra

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You are correct because of the effect of the earphone and the concentration of our mind makes it effective for our ears,
  1) The main reason is Ear-phone... high frequency...
  2) Our thinking on music "We always ear music and dream about some thing, which is possible/impossible, that makes us quite comfort"
  3) Concentration
 

Herman Melville

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Music activates the same parts of the brain and causes the same neurochemical cocktail (Serotonin and dopamine) as a lot of other pleasurable activities like orgasms or eating chocolate --

But why is this? In evolutionary terms, what purpose does music have? I tend to think we only like things because nature has an underlying reason for it (orgasms to continue the species, food to keep you alive, etc).
 

Offline Yomi

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Music is much like food. Some food tastes good. Some music sounds good. The same can be said for things we touch or smell or see. It's really just a great big mystery. Our senses pick up something that it likes and sends it into our brains, triggering a reaction. That reaction is a good feeling. That good feeling can be emotion, adrenaline, etc.
 

Herman Melville

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Music is much like food. Some food tastes good. Some music sounds good. The same can be said for things we touch or smell or see. It's really just a great big mystery. Our senses pick up something that it likes and sends it into our brains, triggering a reaction. That reaction is a good feeling. That good feeling can be emotion, adrenaline, etc.

Yes, and we know and feel this. But I'd love to know why.
 

Offline Yomi

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well, you have to look back really far into our past... think about it. long before "civilization", music was always a large part of the cultural expression of ancient tribes and cultures. but even before that! have you ever stood outside in nature and really listened? i mean, really listened? nature makes music! the birds sing, the wind whistles, the oceans howl, and what about humans? we have voices! large, beautiful voices that yell and SING! and we have hands to play instruments... so that- THAT is why we listen to music. it is an essential part of our very nature! life wouldn't exist without it.
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Offline Yomi

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Herman Melville

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I think you forgot your reference again.

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20060930183908AA5qNXb
Are you just copying this off another site? I'm confused.
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Are there any scientific reasons why we like the music we like?
« Reply #10 on: 08/06/2009 10:40:03 »
Yes he was. I'm confused too.
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Are there any scientific reasons why we like the music we like?
« Reply #11 on: 08/06/2009 10:42:02 »
I was trying to see if there was an answer from this thread: http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=17545 but it hasn't even been answered! :D
 

Offline Don_1

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Are there any scientific reasons why we like the music we like?
« Reply #12 on: 08/06/2009 10:44:53 »
There is evidence that rhythmic beating, similar to the heart beat they hear while in the womb, can be reassuring and pleasurable to babies.

Other than that, I would think preferred music is more to do with nurture rather than nature. This would eventually develop into a 'personal choice' as the individual's personality develops.
 

Herman Melville

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Are there any scientific reasons why we like the music we like?
« Reply #13 on: 08/06/2009 10:54:09 »
There is evidence that rhythmic beating, similar to the heart beat they hear while in the womb, can be reassuring and pleasurable to babies.

Other than that, I would think preferred music is more to do with nurture rather than nature. This would eventually develop into a 'personal choice' as the individual's personality develops.

As a parent I can vouch for the fact that my children have strong ideas about the sounds they do/don't like. These opinions don't simply replicate others'.
 

Herman Melville

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Are there any scientific reasons why we like the music we like?
« Reply #14 on: 08/06/2009 10:56:08 »
have you ever stood outside in nature and really listened? i mean, really listened? nature makes music! the birds sing, the wind whistles, the oceans howl, and what about humans? we have voices! large, beautiful voices that yell and SING! and we have hands to play instruments... so that- THAT is why we listen to music. it is an essential part of our very nature! life wouldn't exist without it.

No offence, but this doesn't really answer the question at all. Plus, there are also sounds in nature we don't like (thunder, crying babies, etc. Being exposed to a range of sounds is one thing, but why we like what we do like is quite another.
 

lyner

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Are there any scientific reasons why we like the music we like?
« Reply #15 on: 08/06/2009 13:13:04 »
I think that Music started, basically, as a social group enhancing activity. Marching, war dancing, rain dancing and other activities are good for strengthening social bonds- a good, fun, social exercise. When we listen to music on our own we get a dose of the same without anyone else needing to be there because we have learned the associations.
It could well have started of with heartbeats in the womb.
You the get other associations with music and emotion - such as in films music. It is a moot point whether the associations / language used in such music developed because of the emotions or whether the early music forms just became associated with certain emotions and it carried on from there. It's probably a bit of both, I think.
We choose what we like best on the grounds of our cultural influences -often, not at all based on appreciation of the actual musical content, I am sure.
Why else would 'young people' reject 'good quality' music which has been crafted and is based on high quality intellectual input, like classical and jazz in favour of rap and drum and bass? Music, like all other fashion, carries some very strong messages.

I forgot the mating dance thing, too. Must be getting old. Is it time for my pills Matron?
 

Offline glovesforfoxes

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Are there any scientific reasons why we like the music we like?
« Reply #16 on: 08/06/2009 14:56:01 »
Yes, I'm surprised that this idea of the social role of music did not come up yet.

Offtopic:
Sophiecentaur, I disagree with the idea that there is universal "'good quality' music which has been crafted and is based on high quality intellectual input", especially when you compare it to rap.. which, to be honest, is largely mediocre. You get some very talented rap artists like Eminem and say, a less well known example like Why? which has some of the songwriting the world has ever not seen. Music isn't solely about lyrics (or even well crafted lyrics, though that does deserve respect) for most people (though it is for you and me), based on personal experience, it's more about the overall feel of the music. For the record, I don't just enjoy rap, and I really enjoy classical music, too - one band that comes to mind that I happen to like is a marriage of the two, called Nuttin' But Stringz, who were classically trained to play violin. Very strange :)
 

lyner

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Are there any scientific reasons why we like the music we like?
« Reply #17 on: 08/06/2009 15:45:19 »
My term "high quality" was defined non-rigorously, of course. I maintain that, with very few exceptions in the arts, a well crafted piece of work has more intrinsic value than something just thrown together. Experience, graft and study are needed in any field of the Arts. A lot of 'popular' stuff is not written as an art form but cynically, as a way of earning money. (Yes, yes, famous composers also write / wrote for money but they had / have standards). If one gets to like something too easily, I think it must be inferior because there is not enough 'in it'. But that's just me being elitist.
 

Herman Melville

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Are there any scientific reasons why we like the music we like?
« Reply #18 on: 08/06/2009 16:00:12 »
I think that Music started, basically, as a social group enhancing activity. Marching, war dancing, rain dancing and other activities are good for strengthening social bonds- a good, fun, social exercise. When we listen to music on our own we get a dose of the same without anyone else needing to be there because we have learned the associations.
It could well have started of with heartbeats in the womb.

But none of this explains why my children strongly like some music and are completely uninterested in other music. What they like/dislike is completely beyond genre, i.e. they like some classical, some jazz, some punk, some pop, and also dislike certain music from all these genres. I have observed closely that they form these opinions without being aware of my own. Here's an example: they love Koln Concert by Keith Jarrett, but are completely uninspired by In A Silent Way by Miles Davis. I consider both complete masterpieces and have spoken equally favourably of each. Likewise, I am a Bob Dylan nut, but they dislike his voice. However, they love the sound of Mark E. Smith of The Fall. They have been exposed to both voices pretty much equally.

There are many good reasons posted above for why we humans enjoy sound, but not for why we like the sounds we like.
 

lyner

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Are there any scientific reasons why we like the music we like?
« Reply #19 on: 08/06/2009 17:43:16 »
Firstly, we cannot monitor all the inputs of ideas that children have in their lives and, secondly,  we couldn't predict the effect of them all even if we knew what they were. I suggest that all our tastes and preferences are strongly influenced by our cultural environment. That is not so say that a child, brought up in in a household where there is a lot of classical music will, necessarily, grow to like classical music. It is much more complex than that and 'just the right / wrong combination' of classical music and a relationship with an adult, say, could put the child off classical and on to rap.
If your children's tastes in music are eclectic then it probably means that they are independent thinking enough not to need to hang on to one particular genre. Lucky you - I, also, have at least one child who is very much like that and it is a joy. It is clear that they must have been exposed to a range of genres as they grew up - 10/10 and a gold star to you too.
The worst thing is to have a child who says "Classical is rubbish" because they are clearly not 'thinking' about it. Kids often say things are boring because they represent 'effort' to get into.
Dylan is a great example of a composer of songs which many people will like but whose image must have got in the way of many people's enjoyment. I first heard of him when at Uni in the early 60s and was very suspicious of his image; I reacted against the popular raving about him at the time and his VOICE and very simple guitar style put me off him. I have since come to terms.
I can safely say that you will never fathom this one out. It's far too complex.
It's the same with food, art, reading and Science. Kids need to be exposed to lots of things when young to reduce the chance of their being middle aged - set in their ways - in their early teens.
« Last Edit: 08/06/2009 17:45:22 by sophiecentaur »
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Are there any scientific reasons why we like the music we like?
« Reply #20 on: 08/06/2009 18:24:00 »
The answer to the original question appears to be "no".
While there may be some sort of associations with, for example, prenatal exposure to the sound of a heart beat, these don't explain musical taste. After all, our mothers' hearts all sounded pretty similar but I doubt we all have the same taste in music.
It's also difficult for scientific analysis to explain culture, and cultural effects in musical preference are considerable.
 

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Are there any scientific reasons why we like the music we like?
« Reply #20 on: 08/06/2009 18:24:00 »

 

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