‘Where words leave off, music begins’
– Heinrich Heine
The power of music, it’s inescapable. Many suggest it to be the universal language of the human race, alongside being the greatest form of communication on the planet. Think about it… even if we do not understand the language someone is singing in, we can still identify and appreciate good music when we hear it.
Scientists have identified that listening to music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function. Because of this, many people see incredible potential in the power of music to change the brain and modulate its functioning. For example, music has been shown to help stimulate thought to be forgotten memories in Alzheimer’s patients. Curating a collection of music that an Alzheimer’s sufferer may have listened to when they were younger appears to encourage the activation of long-term memories pathways. Additionally, a technique referred to as melodic intonation therapy utilisesthe use of music to trigger portions of the brain into taking over for areas that might have been previously damaged. It is sometimes used for individuals who have suffered a stroke, and lost their ability to speak, for example. In some cases, it can help patients regain their speaking prowess.
It’s unsurprising then, that music is so extensively intertwined with our emotional responses. It almost has the ability to allow us to become an ultimate version of ourselves. Think about listening to music in your car. It makes us feel totally invisible. If we sit there and play the stereo at full volume, it’s almost as if other people cannot see you, as if it tints your windows.
Music is a feeling, not a sound. The majority of music that we choose to listen to gives us some form of emotional buzz. Whether that is happiness, anger, or sadness, music has the ability to stimulate these emotions in all of us. Over the Winter months, focusing on the negative can be, unsurprisingly, unexceptionally normal for us. So much so, the term seasonal affective disorderkeeps cropping up in society. This is then further highlighted when people change their moods once the sun does eventually make an affectionate appearance.
For me, when the sun is out, the UK is one of the best places to be. Sun in the capital is incomparable, and it sets up an unlimited number of possibilities. Yes, sure, experiencing sun all year round on a beautiful beach in Thailand is an idealistic paradise for many. I just think that having to wait for good weather in a place where it is usually so dismal, heightens the experience.
Whilst we all wait for summer, I think music can really help with the negative emotions that we all feel when we brace the winter months. Most of us are clinging onto a savior, in the form of a holiday or travel trip. But, some of us don’t. I know when you’re sad it is exceptionally easy to stick on some upsetting music, thinking it will help with the emotions. It generally heightens them. Sadness as an emotion from listening to particular songs however, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You can embrace the art of a song that was intentionally designed to provoke sadness. It’s listening to music which propagates your own personal experiences of negative situations that you need to avoid. The songs you used to enjoy because of an ex-partner would be the perfect example of this. An otherwise upbeat and energetic song would now be riddled with negativity and despair.
Last year I curated a list of negative and positive songs to listen to following a traumatic experience such as a break-up, or a bereavement. The post specifically highlighted that listening to the negative first, followed by the positive, is generally better for our psychological wellbeing. This time, I have accumulated a playlist which has been getting me through the wet and rainy days over the past few weeks. I hope it helps you as much as it does me!
Oh Wonder – Lifetimes
Peking Duk, Elliphant – Stranger
MK – 17
Mallory Knox – California
Lower Than Atlantis – Could Be Worse
Lo Moon – Real Love
Just Kiddin – More To Life
Fred V & Grafix – San Francisco
Foo Fighters – Learn To Fly
Draper – Who Are You
The xx – Hold On (Jamie xx Remix)
The playlist is also on Spotify, here https://open.spotify.com/user/115449199/playlist/3wGsGoEnLh2LOM7cocWKmf?si=e-A72QRJRzyei1tUz0FLVg