Music and The Human Body

The affect that music has on us is a media that film makers are very familiar with. An exciting action packed scene could have a quicker beat such as techno while a sad scene will have a slower rhythm. The power that music has to make us feel is obvious, but it leave the question of why it has an affect. We perceive images differently based on the music that is playing in the background. Emotions are often tied to memories or personal experiences that had an intense resonance on our lives. Certain songs or musical artists that we listened to dominantly for a certain period of our lives can bring back emotions and memories tied to that time period that had been forgotten for so long. That cannot be the only reason that music makes us feel a certain way. We feel emotion through music even when we have never heard that particular song or genre before.
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Before a person has had experiences or even experienced the world outside of the womb, music has an affect. An unborn fetus responds to different types of music. Their preference is for rhythms and tempos that are the same as their own heart rate or their mother’s. A rhythm similar to their mother’s heart rate or voice has a calming effect. Many researchers believe that the earlier we are exposed to music the better because it helps us to develop memory, language, rhythm, and coordination. Music arguably has an extraordinary positive affect on learning, self-expression, and self-esteem. Unfortunately, when budget cuts come into play, music is one of the first subjects cut from school curriculum.

Dr. Alfred Tomatis used music and sound to assist patients with learning disabilities, depression, attention deficit disorder, and autism to name a few. There is a real and scientific reason why children learn better through song. Anyone that has had children or remembers school as a child knows that children remember songs; that is how we learn our A-B-C’s. Popular children’s shows, such as Dora The Explorer and Sesame Street, use song to teach children. Music is fun and children often don’t realize they are learning while they are singing. Children are not the only ones that benefit from the power of music. We use music to market products, give us the motivation to power through exercise, and create an emotionally triggering piece of film among many other things.
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How it all works is remarkable. The sound waves vibrate the ear drum, are amplified, and sent to the cochlea which causes the fluid inside to ripple. Hair cells create electrical signals from the ripple that travel to the brain, and that amazing brain of ours translates that signal into the sound we recognize. From there we are affected based on both individual and social psychology, tempo, pitch, and much more. Explaining why it affects us is more difficult than explaining how we physically hear. It would be beneficial to use this powerful tool to develop our society, our children, and our quality of life.

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