The Amazing Power of Music (Part 3)


Posted by upbeat | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on September 4, 2015

Have you ever asked yourself why music has the power to influence or change the way you feel? We’ve all heard of the term ‘mood music’. But why is it that music can lift us, calm us, even make us joyous or sad? Music can evoke memories in us which in turn can have an impact on our mood. But why is it, as human beings, that we like for example, music with ‘a good beat’? Most music (other than some 20th Century atonal or serial music) has an indentifiable pulse or beat, usually grouping these beats in 2, 3 or 4 beats per bar (or measure). Why is it important for us ‘to feel’ a regular beat that we might clap or tap along to or move in time with?

I would suggest it is because to be human is to be musical. Certainly ryhthmical. We all have a body-clock. Our beating heart beat keeps us alive. It beats at a regular pace and when we exercise or get excited it speeds up. When we’re relaxed or sleeping it goes at a steady moderate pace. If we listen actively to lively, fast music our heart beat picks up speed. Music’s calming or stimulating qualities are not only related to the speed of the beat. This can also relate to the texture or timbre of the music e.g. a beautiful solo violin, a heavy rock band, or a film score played by a symphony orchestra. Composers and performers hope that the listener will be stimulated in ways which provoke a variety of emotional responses. Marches for soldiers, lullabies for babies, football chanting crowds, and hymn singing in church all rely heavily on the basic rhythms of heartbeat, pulse, breathing, walking and rocking to create group empathy.

We all like a good beat, because it’s intrinsically how we’re already made. The natural rhythms of human life and indeed the natural patterns of our world have shaped us to be governed by rhythmic patterns and cycles. We enjoy pattern and form and recognise and understand it. A key building block of music is rhythm and pattern, and as humans we’re that already. Is it any wonder we respond so emotively to music with a strong beat? And another thing. Our human body houses the most amazing musical instrument  –  our voice.

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