Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I send this smile over to you

The water of emotion

A good friend of mine once stated that music is to emotions what water is to boats: a perfect medium through which it can pass.

I've been thinking about that a lot recently. I don't disagree with it; I think it'd be hard to find anyone who would. Rather it's made me think about my music preferences and what they say about my disposition.

When I listed my top 5 albums of all time, I listed Pink Floyd, Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, Incubus, and Lostprophets. There are easily a dozen more albums I could put on that list that would be worthy in my mind. The list was hard to keep down to five.

The top three albums all hold a pretty consistent tone. A similar emotional feel. They're all melancholy and/or angry. Sure, there are some high points and some more positive songs, but there's a pervasive sense of being lost.
Incubus has a bit more of a positive outlook -- more "I'm sick of feeling like this and I'm gonna be happy now" approach. Lostprophets are more the angry-punk rock side of things, more adrenaline than heroin.

On the one hand I can see how this could effect me. Listening to the entire Smashing Pumpkins discography over three days will probably effect how you see things. But there are so many things that go into our emotions and dispositions -- how much sleep we're getting, exercise, diet, friends, relationships, chemicals and neural reactions in the brain -- it's impossible to say how much of an effect any one thing will have.

Oliver Sacks wrote a book called Musicophilia that I've been meaning to read. It details the brains reactions to music. It might be applicable to me although it's hard to tell exactly; Sacks seems to explore more of the medicinal and recovery benefits of music, such as recovering from a stroke. I'll browse around and if I can find it for a good deal I'll pick it up.

EDIT: Browsing Amazon I found another book I remember wanting to get while I worked at Barnes & Noble called This Is Your Brain On Music that details much more it's psychological and physiological effects on the mind. I think I'll look into that one instead.


--jeff * said...

that's why i stopped listening to radiohead several years ago; i just noticed it tended to leave me moody and broody.
i pulled out "ok computer" for the first time in years on saturday night.

Becky said...

So, I also wrote a paper on the effects of music on the brain while I was in high school. Let's see, you already posted on birth order and personality...if your next post happens to be on the economics of the Titanic movie, I will be a little weirded out (yes, that was my 10th grade econ term paper)

nae4blue said...

I've been wanting to read that oliver sacks book since some woman came into barnes & noble and tried to ask for it... but there was no way I could spell that word correctly. I think I got it by typing in keyword: oliver. that's it. nothing else. very lucky I was.

Alisha said...

you should read and review the books mentioned. xD