Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Music - why is it pleasurable

  1. Mar 23, 2005 #1


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Music - why is it pleasurable?

    I have seen recently how universal music is to humanity.
    All cultures throughout the world have mother's singing lullaby's to their babies.

    I think anyone who listens to music, sings or plays an instrument
    may have wondered, why does music often affect us in a pleasurable way?
    Are there specific neurochemical responses?

    Before jumping into replies, I want to mention that other animals besides humans respond positively to music. A study reported by Sutoo and Akiyama, found that music for string orchestra by Mozart shifted the physiology of rats clearly towards relaxation or recreation. There was increased dopamine production. (dopamine is one of the joy neurotransmitters)
    ref: ---> http://web.telia.com/~u57011259/Sutoo.htm [Broken]

    So at least in rats, we know of a neurochemical response that may point towards why we feel pleasure with music
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 23, 2005 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    I have no scientific answer to your question, only a speculative one...my theory is music is the most artistic form of our soul's expression (I use the term "soul" lightly). When I listen to music I truly love to hear, my mood is definitely elevated. If it has been a few weeks since I have listened to music, my mood and outlook tend to be more dull.
  4. Mar 24, 2005 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I believe music is something you learn to appreciate. You'll notice that different regions of the world have different taste in music which supports the theory that it's something people learn to like. Music from India really makes me cringe, and I would assume Indians think music from North America is just noise.

    As for that study, I would like to see the results of regional music. Do the mice respond the same way to popular music? Classical music typically has many instruments being in sync with each other whereas popular music in North America has lots of different instruments doing differnet things. Compare Beethoven's 9th Symphony to Ghetto Life by Rick James. The 9th Symphony has maybe 2 different sets of sounds at any given time, but Ghetto Life has at least 4 or 5 different sounds (including voice) at a time and they're not always in phase. I wouldn't be surprised if Ghetto Life caused extreme anxiety in some of the mice.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2005
  5. Mar 26, 2005 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Kerrie brings up a good point.. Listening to music that you like, does elevate my mood too, and for those who also play music not just mechanically, but with emotion. There is a euphoria experienced, much like that brought about by exercise. Listening/singing along to a good song on the car stereo, while the sun is beaming down, with few cars on the road; you may also experience this intensity of euphoria.

    Shawn , I know what you mean about learning to appreciate music, and I understand what you are saying about different styles of music in different regions. Certainly classical music tends to be polyphonic and tends to be in the same time signature. Although I have not heard Ghetto Life , by your description, I expect it is polyrhythmic, which is an equally valid expression of music.

    But I think the common thread is that, of those who listen to these styles, many will find it enjoyable. This
    feeling of joy is triggering neurochemicals in our brain (perhaps, as yet undefined) that allow us to experience this. :wink:
  6. Mar 26, 2005 #5
    I definitely agree. I defintely prefer the rain to sunlight...but thats me. :wink:

    Music is a way to relieve stress and connect your emotions in ways that words can not express. My family definitely know when to leave each other alone depending upon what music is blasting over the stereo. Pieces are like fingerprints; not two pieces are exactly the same. Each piece brings different feelings and thoughts to light. Thats why it is such a huge part if my life. :biggrin:
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook