0 Morty Asked: August 13, 2019In: Biology ELI5- Why does different music make us feel different feelings? 0 ELI5- Why does different music make us feel different feelings? In: Biology Share Facebook 5 Answers Voted 123Spaceman123 Added an answer on August 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm This is hard to explain simplify although to give it a try. You can think of the brain as a network of different parts interacting. So when you listen to music you activate a network known as the DMN this is linked to the mesoblic system and henoidic system. Mesoblic is pleasure without liking feeling, and the other is with liking. So depending on the response of the DMN these systems get activated. The same network is activated in other pleasurable activities like sex. Another reason is the chronological astitical experience of music. 0 Reply Share Share Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on WhatsApp potatoaccount14124 Added an answer on August 13, 2019 at 1:10 pm It’s actually not cultural. There were some studies done where scientists asked people from remote tribes who had never heard of most types of music before to listen to certain songs, and they could accurately guess the musician’s emotional intention. Sure, some aspects of music can be cultural or even a matter of personal experience (ie having a “trained ear”), but most are universal. Now, I could talk about how music affects our heart-rate or brain-wave activity, I could talk about the mathematics behind music theory, but since this is eli5, I’ll make it simple. I’m sure you’ve heard of Nickelback’s [How You Remind Me](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cQh1ccqu8M). Its simplistic structure can help me illustrate my point. The song starts with these lyrics: >Never made it as a wise man >I couldn’t cut it as a poor man stealing >Tired of living like a blind man >I’m sick of sight without a sense of feeling Try to listen to the music behind those lyrics. Notice how the guitar strikes different notes before each line is sung and at the end of it. This is called a chord. And notice how the chords go back and forth in sets of four in each two lines. It goes like <DONG> “Never made it as a <BONG> wise man” <FONG> “I couldn’t cut it as a <RONG> poor man stealing” and so on. You might even notice that each sung lyric almost sounds like a Q & A thing. It’s like the first lyric is asking a question and the second lyric answers. The third lyric asks another question and the fourth lyric answers. What these chords actually do is set up a pattern of ups and downs. You see, different notes can be combined in hundreds of different ways, and each combination has a different “feeling”. And these combinations can be further combined to evoke more complex emotions. But, in order to not make things complicated, let’s just say that the greater part of music is all about **tension and resolution**. Imagine the music starting from a certain point, wandering around, and then returning home. The beginning acts as a reference point. Then the music wanders around in different melodies and chords. This causes tension. Then the music finally returns to its starting point, and this is the release. You feel a certain sense of satisfaction when the music comes a full cycle. There’s a reason for this. You may have noticed from casually listening to music that certain combinations of notes sound more “pleasing” than others. Some sounds simply don’t seem to “work” together, and we call that dissonance. The more dissonant the sound, the more tension created. And, on the opposite side, the more pleasing or consonant a sound is, the more satisfied we feel when the music eventually gets there. Take scary movies, for example. What’s the soundtrack of most horror films? It’s dissonant or atonal sounds all the time. There’s never a pay off, never a release. Always building up, the tension rising and rising, and that’s what causes the audience to feel uneasy and scared. (Some could argue that the eventual jump-scare works as a resolution to this build up, and it’s a valid point, because after being scared by the BOO moment, you feel a sense of relief.) On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the so called “elevator music”. This is music that is very “satisfying”, with very little tension. And that’s why many people find it boring. Because all satisfaction all the time has no stakes. It’s too safe, and this results in the music sounding bland, without any personality. Getting back to the Nickelback song, notice in the next lyrics, how the singer starts repeating some phrases: “This is how you remind me of what I really am.” Repetition also creates tension. Then the rest of the band starts to join in, and the volume also increases. In music, this is called a crescendo. It builds up and builds up and then it explodes and it marks the end of the intro, and now the song has actually started. This musical trope is commonly found in electronic music, like techno or dubstep. You’ve probably noticed how many songs of those genres start slow and soft and then go faster and louder and faster and faster, and then even faster, and then there’s a sudden pause, and then [BOOM](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXO-jKksQkM&t=1m20s) the bass drops and everyone loses their minds. This is the most simplistic structure of what I’m talking about. It’s just tension and release. If you want to get an idea of how the masters of music do this kind of thing, check out the beginning of Antonín Dvořák’s [9th Symphony, 4th Movement](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9RT2nHD6CQ&t=39m35s). Notice the use of build ups and pauses until the tension spills over and forms the main melody of the piece. Obviously its structure is much more complicated, like how it contrasts the timbre of the stringed instruments to the brass ones, but the principles are the same. (Also, I’ve heard many laymen say that it reminds them of the Jaws theme. I can see why, and the idea behind that song is the same.) And this pattern of tension and resolution can be perceived not just locally in each musical phrase or paragraph, but also macroscopically, in an entire song or even an album. When you start paying attention, you’ll see it everywhere. Now, if I were to describe all this using terminology from musical theory, I’d be talking about things like harmonic [cadence](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadence), and if you actually looked at the mathematical relationships between the notes, you’d realize that this pleasing concept we call harmony is just mathematics. The reason music is so universal is because it’s math, and math is universal. And, for some reason, we respond well to mathematical harmony, not just in music, but everywhere. In paintings (perspective and projective geometry), in architecture, in facial symmetry. In other words, math is beauty and beauty is math. 0 Reply Share Share Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on WhatsApp pasta_flora Added an answer on August 13, 2019 at 6:38 am when you listen to metal you feel energised and ready to headbang in the cool vocals and that shredded guitar solos but when you listen to classical rock you want to cry because of all the legends that have gone while you scream GALILEO this happens because of the tone of the music itself and the backstory of it . 0 Reply Share Share Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on WhatsApp MassiveHairPrime Added an answer on August 13, 2019 at 6:34 am There are so many answers to this. I answered a question very similar to this one on the same subreddit a while ago. Go ahead and look through my comment history, but TL:DR the intervals between notes and the reliance on the subtle differences between musical modes can make music feel different. The 2nd in a Phrygian Scale is an example of this. That really isn’t a ELI5 answer so I’m going to try something different. Go on YouTube and find an online keyboard, where you play it by typing the numbers. Play the notes F and B in rapid succession. Notice how it sounds so bad? Well you’ve just made a Diminished Fifth, or Augmented Fourth, otherwise known as a tritone. The reason why it sounds bad is because you are creating dissonance. A great example of this is the Lavender Town theme from R/B/Y. notice how it never feels resolved. By avoiding a resolution to the tonic, and by using dissonance, it makes you feel lost, sad, and hopeless. The song knows you want it to resolve to the tonic and it prevents it for as long as possible to TORTURE you. The opposite of this is the exact same song, Lavender Town, but remixed in G/S/C. Here, while there is still dissonance, it is immediately resolved in a bittersweet sort of way. The song still knows that you want a resolution, so this time it makes you work for it. This is only the surface of music. There are an infinite number of ways to affect emotion in music. Just know that basically everything in music will have some effect on something. 0 Reply Share Share Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on WhatsApp solongfish99 Added an answer on August 13, 2019 at 2:49 am There really isn’t a good ELI5 for this, but essentially, music is an aesthetic experience in the same way that reading a fictional story is an aesthetic experience. Neither are “real”, but we can feel different emotions based on our ability to relate them to our lived experiences. As to why specific sounds cause different emotions, that is largely influenced by your culture. 0 Reply Share Share Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on WhatsApp Leave an answerLeave an answerCancel reply Attachment Select file Browse Featured image Select file Browse What is the capital of UK? ( London ) Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.