That’s the beauty of music. They can’t get that from you… Haven’t you ever felt that way about music?
Andy Dufresene, Shawshank Redemption
That scene is from one of my favorite movies and I believe it accurately describes the beauty of music. It truly is something so beautiful that it can express our thoughts and feelings when words alone are not enough. Sometimes, words are not even necessary. I love that. I love that music, no matter what kind we listen to, resonates and stays with us.
Music is one of my passions. I play it, sing it, listen to it, dance (poorly) to it, and praise the Lord to it. I believe that one of the keys to understanding someone is taking a look at their passions and interests. As I write these posts, I want you all to know me rather than just what I believe and what I write. I think that it gives more authenticity and humanity to what I say. Additionally, I have come to realize the importance of sharing our passions with the world. Our passions form who we are, and that’s definitely worth sharing. So, let’s talk about music.
Since I was a child, music has been a part of my life. Whether it was singing and dancing around the house or listening to my walkman in the car, music was always there. In fifth grade, I started playing the clarinet and received my first iPod, and little did I know how much these two things would affect my future with music. I went on to play clarinet for five years, taught myself piano and guitar, sang and played on my church’s worship team, and listened to my music whenever I could. I carried my iPod or iPhone with me everywhere I went. I didn’t really have a particular taste in music until about junior year when some friends began introducing me to what they listened to. I never really listened to much alternative or indie music before, but after listening to it for awhile I was hooked.
Recently, however, I have been wondering why we like the music we like. Why do we prefer a certain genre over another? Why is it that I love listening to alternative, indie, and movie scores more than rap or metal? Well, it turns out there is a scientific reason behind it all! When we listen to music we find enjoyable, the chemical dopamine is triggered in our brains. Dopamine helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers – it is the same chemical that is triggered when eating amazing food, falling in love or doing thrill-seeking things such as riding roller coasters or skydiving. It also regulates movement and emotional responses, which helps explain why we often feel such an emotional tie to our music.
When we like a particular song, the dopamine is triggered. Our brains then form a sort of musical “template”, where our past musical experiences factor in to what music we like or dislike. But what if we had no past experience for a particular genre? Another factor is our friends and who we surround ourselves with. We often begin listening to music based on suggestions from friends, and if we like it enough we begin to form our own musical template for that style of music.
When I discovered this, I could easily pinpoint the parts of my life where friends intervened or my past musical experiences played a role in what music I listen to. It explains why I feel chills running down my spine or why a song makes me feel a particular way. Music has the power to evoke our emotions in ways words alone cannot do. Music in a way can tell a story of its own. This leads me to another one of the things I love to do: watch movies.
For me, movies and music usually go hand-in-hand. A movie can be great with mediocre music, but I truly believe that the movies that are amazing are the ones that have a stellar soundtrack or score. Movies aim to take us on a journey, to tell and illustrate a story. Sometimes they are realistic, sometimes they take us to places we could only imagine or dream of. When I think of movies, I not only look at the story it tells but the way it connects with me and how it makes me feel. I think of Harry Potter, Star Wars, Inception, The Dark Knight, and many of the Marvel or DC movies. I remember how the music makes me feel like I am flying or like I am right there in the action. I can feel what the characters feel and for a couple hours I am whisked away into their world, sometimes forgetting that I am only in my basement.
How to Train Your Dragon and How to Train Your Dragon 2 are a couple of movies that have really stuck with me. Despite being children’s movies, I have found the stories to resonate deeply within me. I cannot completely explain why that is, but I know that part of the reason is the way the music makes me feel. Similarly to Harry Potter, both the characters and the music tell the story together seamlessly. The connection with the music and the movie is something I carry with me everywhere and no one can take that from me, and that is why I love music and movies so much. If you have the time, stop and take a moment to listen to one of my favorite songs from a movie score.
The best movies are the ones that take us on an adventure and leave us with something to learn or take with us. I love movies because they’re like books in the way that they tell us a story. It is an experience we can share with those around us. Music is the same; we share it with those around us. Music is a language of its own, used by people of all different cultures and languages. Both are expressions of who we are and help us throughout our own story, and I believe that is truly marvelous.
My hopes with this post is that you think about your own passions and interests and really explore them. Don’t underestimate the power of a little curiosity and seeing where it takes you. Also, don’t be afraid to share what you are truly passionate about with the world. You never know who you’re going to find who is just like you. You all are so awesome, thanks for reading!