The Power of a Song

I've read a lot of material over the years about subliminal messages mind control and who knows what else in rock and roll songs and never really gave it a second thought. Recently though, I've been reading a lot about brainwave patterns and sound being used to induce various mental states. Again, I'm not really betting the farm on this being true, but it did raise some interesting questions in my mind about music. Not necessarily are there subliminal sounds in our music altering out brain activity, but more so does a song have an effect on us beyond it's subject content.

I know from experience that when my moods shift, so does my choice in music. If I'm in a bad mood, I know I'm not going to be listening to "All You Need is Love" by the Beatles, but if I'm already feeling uplifted, or my mental state is moving in that direction I might, instead avoiding some of the more hardcore punk and metal bands I listen to. I think that is pretty common practice. We like to listen to music that coincides with what we're already feeling, or what we want to feel. Nothing wrong with that, music is almost entirely emotion based in my mind. Even advanced classical pieces are all just about creating specific feels and conjuring specific images for me, so it makes sense that I would associate specific songs with specific emotions and mind sets.

That's nothing out of the ordinary and seems pretty obvious when you think about it. When I started reading about this brainwave research though, I started wondering if sometimes it actually works the other way around. It's pretty easy to think that a song can change your mood... that's nothing shocking. I can see it happening probably every time we listen to music, and is part of why we then associate those songs then with that specific mood. I wonder though how much of it has to do with the actual content, style and mood of the song, and if part has something to do with the affects that the frequencies of the sound waves have on our brain.

Could it be that specific song moods coincide with specific sound wave patterns that are changing my brainwaves to make me feel whatever it is I'm feeling?

I doubt it, but this brainwave research is interesting to look into if you can filter out a lot of the scams. I'm sure it'll give those who believe that popular music is being used to control our minds will use the information to claim that there is some sort of subliminal brainwave manipulation in pop music to make us buy it or whatever.

This goes along with ideas about increased mental activity from listening to classical as opposed to heavy metal etc... you know, Mozart makes you smarter, which I don't really buy into either.

I thought it raised an interesting music related philosophical question in my mind though. Do I listen to specific music to fit my moods or does the music I pick to listen to alter them in some way beyond it's actual content?

I think it's a bit like a feedback loop. Initially I feel something from a song that creates a specific loop. Then in future situations when I'm feeling that way I put on that music, which in turn emphasizes what I'm feeling... and so on.

Really, I doubt it matters much though. There is little that can control whether or not I'm going to listen to whatever music I want to when I want to and I rarely think about why I make those choices. Kind of interesting to think about though. Raises some more questions about where music fits within our philosophies, music's place within society and the importance of music as an art form, and as a functional thing.

That's deep enough to make your brain hurt.

Well, that's enough philosophical thought for one day... time to go listen to some straight up rock and roll, I'm thinking Van Halen or AC/DC, and forget about everything I just said.


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