Music affects the mind – for the positive

By Andrew McDonald – Hypnotherapist

Music affects the mind. There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about that revelation. What is worth exploring though is how different kinds of music interact with our brains.
Grouping hip-hop, reggae, techno, country and pop music into one album is a very eclectic idea. In terms of the effects each of these genres has on our minds though, categorising them together makes a lot of sense. All five feature catchy, consistent and repetitive backbeats. Music that structurally is relatively constant results in your body producing dopamine, the pleasure chemical. It also increases the pulse rate, making you more hyper and your desire to dance and sing gets triggered. In short, listening to them makes you feel good.
The idea that heavy metal leads to you feeling calmer sounds a little crazy to those who don’t listen to it. There’s good reason though why it has this effect. Metal has a dense structure and is very often fast in tempo. This gets your blood pumping. However, this leads to an indirect calming of the body. This genre fills the brain with lots of activity which leaves less space for feelings of stress and anger. The characteristics of heavy metal also give an outlet for these emotions providing an opportunity to offload.
The genre which perhaps frees your mind the most is jazz. There is a lot of improvisation meaning you are at liberty to interpret the sounds in your own way. This leads to a massive amount of hyperactive neural stimulation. Jazz’s loose, off-the-cuff nature also involves musicians communicating to each other through their instruments. It’s not surprising then that jazz leads to activity in the part of the brain which is responsible for language syntax.
If what you truly desire is to unwind, classical music is the go-to for busting stress. As with techno, reggae, hip-hop, country and pop music, classical also releases dopamine in the brain. However, it brings relaxation too. Additionally, classical music activates more areas of your brain than the other five because its range is far wider bringing together complex contrasts of higher and lower notes. It’s also a fantastic kind of music to meditate too. You can find plenty of pieces of classical music which are 15 minutes or longer free on YouTube which are perfect for meditations.
The internet gives us a great opportunity to enjoy music we’re familiar with as well as exploring that which we may never previously have had chance to listen to. Myself, I’m very into modern Italian music; Antonello Venditti, Laura Pausini, Luciano Ligabue and Zucchero being among my favourites. Fans of Paul Young will know the last artist I mentioned as they collaborated on the track Senza Una Donna (Without A Woman). I’m also passionate about classical music and Classic FM is a favourite station which I listen to online. Whatever kind of music you enjoy, make sure to find time to do so as the health benefits are numerous.

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