Thursday, July 18, 2019

Critical study of how music uniquely expands our understanding of experience Essay

Music has long existed in our society as a form of culture, entertainment and the like. In fact every civilization known to exist had had a great deal of benefits from music. There are lots of people who see music as nothing more than plain entertainment however there are those who holds in the claim that music gives us something more than entertainment per se. There are claims that music could affect us in a number of ways. Music has considerable effects on one’s mind, body and emotions. Music that are abundant in beats in a way could fuel one’s body, music carried out with feelings could affect one’s emotional status and could either make one cry with misery or laugh with joy, classical music could stimulate the mind, and so on and so forth. There are people who are greatly aware of the effects music could wrought on a person and this could greatly be seen on our everyday experiences. Movies, films, news, see the importance and know the effects music could have on every individual and thus music is key parts in every movie made nowadays. Have you ever seen a movie that doesn’t have an original sound track or a movie that did not make use of background music? Ever seen a documentary and the like who did not use music in the background while portraying the videos or documents they have? Having seen some of the uses music could have it may now suffice to say that music is indeed an important aspect in our lives and it plays fundamental role in today’s society (as well as on societies which existed thousand of years ago). As was stated music is an essential part of every culture, of every society and thus it is of no surprise that music is seen as a part of our everyday routines. Music could have fundamental effects on one’s emotion. Think of an instance wherein certain music affected you emotionally. Say you heard a certain song and it evoke within you some sort of emotions like pain, happiness and the like. I remember for an instance a conversation I have had with a friend of mine. He always loves to listen to the lyrics of Ever After of Bonnie Bailey and Come Around by Rhett Miller. He told me that he love listening to Ever After because that used to be their theme song (of his ex girlfriend) and he loves singing Come around because he can relate to that particular song. Thus, seemingly music indeed has certain effects on our emotions. I even remember claiming that my friend is such a masochist because he loves listening to sad songs such as Come Around when he has a choice to do otherwise. Similarly music has certain ways of affecting one’s mood. However it is not really known how do music affects a person physiologically and psychologically as well. Thus, a question may arise as to how do certain music affects a person’s mood. In order to determine how music affects a person’s mood one must first know the root as to how music inspires a person’s emotion. There are two contrasting viewpoints who tried to answer this particular puzzle. These views are called emotivist and cognitivist. For an emotivist they believe in the notion that we feel certain emotions as a form of response everytime we hear certain music. The cognitivist on the other hand believes otherwise. The cognitivists believes that there is more to humans than emotions and thus they believe that we get to decode certain musical emotions on a rational level, thus it shows that the cognitivists do not really believe that we really get to experience musical emotions. In order to see whether the beliefs of the emotivists are correct or not an experiment needs to be conducted in order to see if there are certain music models which could draw out coherent physiological reactions from different kinds of people. This experiment is needed in order for us to see if we really do experience emotions when exposed to a particular music. It is in this regard that a study had been conducted by Krumhansl wherein two groups of student were used. These particular groups of students each partake different activities. The activity went as follow: One group of 40 students dynamically rated the levels of sadness, fear, happiness, and tension in six sample pieces intended to evoke sadness, fear, or happiness. They did so by adjusting a slider on a computer while the music was playing. A separate group, consisting of 38 college students, was hooked up to physiological sensors monitoring a variety of cardiovascular, electrodermal, and respiratory responses which recorded their change over time. Both groups heard the six musical samples with a 90-second pause in between each. The physiological measures taken from the second group were compared with the degree of sadness, fear, happiness, and tension reported by the first group. Both the physiological measures and emotional ratings were recorded as they changed during the course of the piece. Therefore, correlations could be drawn between the intensity of certain emotions and physiological symptoms. (Boswell) The results shown by the experiment was in accordance to the side of the emotivists. Each of the musical selections was rated as having the intended emotion, and consistent physiological responses were found for each measured emotion: sad music was correlated with a decreased heart rate, lowered finger temperature, increased blood pressure, and decreased skin conductance level; happy music with faster and shallower breathing, and fear-invoking music with a slower pulse, faster breathing, and decreased finger temperature. These effects were consistent during the duration of the pieces. (Boswell) This is further proof that the emotivists position was indeed supported by the said experiment. The fact that there was a coherent physiological modification that was produced by the different music used in the said experiment were behavioral evidence enough that those college students indeed experienced certain emotions all throughout the time they were exposed to the music used. This result contradicted the claim that emotions could only be transmitted once a person gets to recognize a certain passage present within a particular music. Another study was made by Sloboda. Sloboda attempted to identify the exact musical composition which brings about definite physical emotional responses. Examples of the said responses are tears, trembling, and the like. The study made use of questionnaire which was dispersed to five hundred British citizens. However, only eighty-three persons send back the survey. It is an important thing to know that those eighty-three persons who answered the survey were experts in terms of music, particularly classical music. The said survey had went on as follow: Participants were instructed to indicate the frequency with which they experienced certain physical responses as an effect of music within the last five years, as well as the piece of music and, if possible, the specific part of the piece or musical event that provoked it. In addition, they were asked to say whether the response was consistently evoked. (Boswell) A huge number of the partakers claimed that they were able to experience certain physical emotional responses such as mirth, trembling, tears, lump in their throats and the like for the last five years of their lives. However the survey showed that women are more prone to experiencing tears as compared to men. Men on the other hand, especially those already on their thirties, claimed that they experienced more laughter than compared to other age. Just as was the case on the experiment conducted by Krumhansl, the survey conducted by Sloboda also showed a great deal of consistency to each piece of music they were exposed to. This particular survey also showed the extent of the consistency in that the reactions remained consistent even though they have heard the certain musical piece for more than fifty times. A further point of interest is that there are particular melodic constructions which showed to have consistent effects upon the partakers of the said survey. Appogiaturas for one were consistent in bringing tears into surface. The experiment also showed that a series of changes in terms of harmony incite trembling, whereas quickening brought about faster heart beats. However, if there is a certain drawback in the said study is the fact that it was conducted with the use of questionnaires. We could have no way of knowing if the person who answered it had answered truthfully or if s/he is merely bluffing. Thus, in a way we have no way of making sure that the partakers of the said survey indeed experienced the particular emotions and physical responses they reported they have experienced for the past five years. Another factor is the fact that those who participated in the survey were all expert on the field of music and thus we could not really deduct from this survey alone that the rest of the world would also act or feel the same way. However there are certain studies which had been conducted which show that very little difference exists between those who have musical expertise and those who have none. In addition, the records stated by the partakers of the said survey regarding their experiences of physical signs of emotions are not really unusual. Thus, in a way we could say that the study conducted by Sloboda also supported the position held by the emotivists. We should also take into account the fact that the physical responses reported by the survey partakers are in fact common in all human beings since we all share the same autonomic response system. However, we should also take note of the fact that our capability to utilize the said system in order for us to feel or experience certain emotions brought about by music is in a way, a learned process. This particular claim is supported by the fact that very young children do not really get to experience the said responses. Even those adults who have different kinds of music as compared to ours are not likely capable to experience the said responses brought about by the music we listen into. Thus, Sloboda claimed that the link between musical compositions and emotions is a learned process which is also dependent on one’s culture. However, this does not necessitate that we do not really get to experience or fell certain emotions from listening to certain music. It only tells us that we may not be able to relate nor are we likely to experience certain emotions from listening to other music that are completely different from ours. Fact is, Sloboda even claimed that if we are to be exposed to music completely different from ours we could still get to relate to that music although it would take time. Therefore even though the link between musical compositions and emotions is a learned process, evidences and studies still show the stand held by the emotivists that we are indeed capable of feeling or experiencing certain emotions simply by listening to a particular music. Thus those who participated in the studies conducted have steadily testified that they have indeed experienced true emotions when they listened to certain music. The researches conducted also accounted for the fact that very little difference in terms of recognizing emotions could be seen between those who have musical expertise and those who have none. Thus this accounted for the emotivists view that we could indeed experience certain emotions simply by listening to certain music, although it is still not clear what inclines us to be affected in certain ways. Research conducted claims that there is really no ground in saying that somewhere in our brains there could be located a region dedicated mainly to process musical data. In contrary, the errand of musical processing is extended to the whole region of our brains. Thus whereas the right brain is responsible for the emotions evoked while listening to music, the left brain is quite responsible for looking at music in a more rational ground thus it tends to critically examine music. There are even proofs which show that the primeval region within our mid brain is the one responsible for our emotions we experience while listening to music. Thus a primeval region within our midbrain engages itself with the task of realizing and appreciating music in an emotional way. However, the specific region wherein music is being developed (if ever there is one) is yet to be known. A study which involves this particular interest was conducted by Schmidt and Trainor. Schmidt and Trainor studied whether or not frontal brain electrical activity correlated with intensity and positivity or negativity, or valence, of emotion. The study showed that the left frontal brain is the one responsible for experiencing positive emotions whereas the right frontal brain is the one responsible for experiencing negative emotions. Thus, emotions such as happiness, interests and the like are product of the left frontal brain whereas emotions such as horror, revulsion, pain and the like were made by the right frontal brain. Therefore it would suffice for us to say that when listening to happy tunes our left frontal brain is likely to be triggered whereas listening to desolate songs would trigger our right frontal brain. It also follows that the intensity of music could affect the intensity of the frontal activity. The hypothesis stated above had already been confirmed. A careful selection of music which would likely draw out positive emotions triggered the left frontal brain whereas a careful selection of music which would likely draw negative emotions triggered the right frontal brain. Thus, the frontal activity of the brain increases every time the intensity of certain music also increases. Thus in a way this is also another proof which supports the emotivist view that listening to certain music could make a person experience certain emotions. Thus a similarity between music and language could be seen. Both language and music alike is inclined to be interpreted subconsciously. Thus, this seems to show that humans have a biological structure which enables music to draw emotions from each of us. And though this particular structure is yet to be known, researchers concluded that the said structure is not composed of a single area on the brain. On the contrary, researchers believe that such structure is made up of an interaction of the different systems which could be found within our brain. It is due to music’s many uses that music is also deemed to have considerable effects on the field of medicine. There are certain accounts taken from the Bible, artifacts, as well as studies that show that music could have considerable effects on a person’s health and well-being. In fact, there are historical inscriptions taken from Egypt, Greek, China and other known civilizations which praise music’s ability in medical matters. Music is widely considered to have medical importance and it is in this regard that music even such a term such as music therapy. After World War II the United States of America even see to it that music therapy would be used on wounded soldiers who were tormented by physical as well as emotional traumas taken from the war. Physicians and nurses alike saw how music helped alleviate some of the soldiers or veterans pain by merely engaging themselves on musical activities. It is on this regard that hospitals started employing musicians to help better their patients’ status. Music had been very helpful in bettering the patient’s emotional as well as psychological status and as many people learned of these certain benefits derived from music, National Association for Musical Therapy came to existence. The need for musical therapy became wide range to the point that the National Association for Musical Therapy or NAMT allied themselves to other musical organizations which in turn resulted into the foundation of the American Music Therapy Association or AMTA. The ranges of music therapy vary widely in that it not only caters to emotional sickness since it also proved to be beneficial in sickness suffered under physical injuries. Music therapy helped people in terms of their perceiving pains. There are a number of reasons why they consider music as an effectual means in limiting perceived pains. First, music could divert a person’s mind from the pain at hand or from the pain a person perceives. Second, music could help in terms of giving a person some kind of control. Thirdly, music could help counter pain since it could help a person in releasing endorphins which are necessary in giving a person some sense of well-being. Fourth, slow music could help a person in terms of relaxation in that it slows a person’s breathing. Take a person with leukemia for an example. Let’s say Person A needs to undergo a certain surgery necessary to cure his leukemia. One should admit that surgical procedures are indeed frightening and thus Person A could not help but be afraid of what’s on store for him and thus Person A’s blood pressure continues to rise and this in turn has a crucial effect on Person A’s healing process. This particular thing could also heighten Person A’s awareness or perception of pain. One’s pain could not be measure by anyone and thus there is no standard in terms of the amount of pain a person could have. It is in this manner that music therapy comes into the picture. We have already enumerated the reasons why music therapy is considered beneficial in medicine and thus in this manner one could be lead to speculate that music therapy could indeed lessen one’s pain perception because it could work in certain ways in order to lessen a person’s perceived pain. Disturbance or diversion could help in certain ways in lessening one’s sense perception and thus it could help moderate the pain a person undergoes. This pain moderation could be redirected to the cognitive section which could be seen in the Gate-Control Theory of Pain. Pleasant music naturally applies or concentrates on a person’s pleasant stimulus which in turn concerns the capability of the information processing system. Since the music would be busy attending to the pleasant stimulus of a person it naturally follows that the person’s occupation would be diverted from the pain-causing stimulus. It is ion this regard that music is considered important in distracting a person because distraction presents a person with an escape by means of imagination which in turn is a crucial means in lessening stress, nervousness and fear which are important factors which constitutes pain. Thus enjoyable imagination could promote some sense of control to a person which could decrease a person’s nervousness and feeling of being powerless. Thus since music helps transfer our attention away from painful experiences it provides us with a strategy we could use when we undergo painful experiences, may it be physically or emotionally.

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