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The Clements Blog

If music be the food of love ...

Sunday, 9th February 2014 | 1 comment

What is it that makes us love music so much? Well, a group of Canadian scientists think they have found an answer. According to their research, published last month, listening to music releases a chemical in the brain – called dopamine – that creates a sense of pleasure and euphoria. And it's exactly the same chemical that is released when we eat a delicious meal. Four hundred years ago Shakespeare called music the food of love – and he may have been more right than he realised.

What's really fascinating is that the scientists found that it's not single notes on their own that provide the pleasure, but the experience of listening to a series of notes arranged into melodies or longer pieces of music. In other words, listening to music and making sense of it in your mind, rather than just hearing aimless sound, was what releases that dopamine and creates the feeling of pleasure and enjoyment. There may be something to learning how all those different rhythms, suspensions and cadences work after all – get it right and you might be able to serve up the musical equivalent of steak, chips and ice cream. The scientists found that Samuel Barber's Adagio for strings was one piece that had a particularly strong effect on the people they tested – maybe it's those great, slow melodies that take so long to resolve.

But what pieces of music give you the goosebumps?


Comments

L10LaSan

Saturday, 19th February 2011

I like listening to all kinds of music, so I found this post very interesting! Thanks!

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