Commentary and Philosophy Non-Fiction posted October 9, 2017


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...my own theory about music and writing

Rocking Out and Writing

by Mustangpatty1029


I have formulated this theory about writing and music.  I think the music we play, and if we play any at all, has a great effect on the products of our efforts.  As writers, the prose and verse we produce are the fruits of our labor, and I believe music will make them sweeter.
 

When you write, do you have your favorite music playing in the background?  Does music get your blood pumping?  If so, you aren't alone.  In fact, the brain reacts to music in many ways.
 

Listening to my favorite music, being played by Alexa from Amazon, I find my brain more engaged in the writing process.  Strong memories come to me as different songs play.  My brain responds in a positive manner.

Since I wasn't sure exactly how it happened, I googled, 'Research of the effects of music on the brain.'  Google came back with 188,000,000 results.  Aha, I think I'm on to something here.

One of the articles was entitled, 'This is your Brain on Music,*' and I found some scientific proof of my hypothesis.  It seems that a great deal of research has been done in this area, and three specific reports were released in 2016.  The study I was mostly interested in was the psychological effects music has on the brain.  The article detailed results that included something called the 'nucleus accumbens.'  This is an area of the brain involved in forming expectations.  It seems that the music we listen to the most has an impact on the music we will listen to and like for all our lives.  Your brain will work like a music recommendation system, based on the things it heard before.  This could explain why my kids, who are only in their early thirties, are so fond of music from the eighties.  Those wonderful songs filled our home when they were growing up.  More importantly, both my children have relayed to me they feel a sense of 'home' when they listen to those songs.  It also coincides with texts or calls to me.
 

In a study performed by Daniel Abrams, lead author and postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University School of Medicine,  participants were exposed to the same music and their brains were analyzed.  There was a synchronization across several areas of the brain which means everyone perceived the music the same way, despite the personal differences they brought to the table.  I was intrigued by this because I wonder if I had the time and knowledge I could prove that certain music could be used to remove Writer's Block.
 
Okay, maybe I'm getting too enthused about my theory.  I do know music works for me.  It not only will loosen up things in my brain when I'm writing, it also improves my outlook on life.
 
When I'm having a 'bad day,' or starting to slip into a depression, I can use musical theory to pull myself out of a funk.  Listening to my favorite music, the dark cumulonimbus clouds of depression seem to drift apart and turn into the wispy cirrus clouds.
 
In an article entitled 'How does Music Affect Your Mood**?' research shows that even sad music can lift your mood, while other studies show music can boost happiness and relieve anxiety.  This bit of information goes a long way in helping me to prove my theory.

 
I know there are a great many of fellow FanStorians suffering from different types of depression and mood disorders.  Wouldn't it be great if instead of taking pills and going to the doctor and feeling like you're a failure at life, you could just 'pump up the jam?'
 
Being pretty sure of myself, I continued to read more articles and studies.  It turns out that for some people sad music will increase their dark mood and heighten their sense of anxiety.  So, maybe those folks shouldn't listen to Barry Manilow or carefully screen their playlists.  I googled the fifty-five saddest songs, and even bands like Pink Floyd and Radiohead have numbers on the list.
 

Surprisingly, I came across this quote in the list of saddest songs; "There’s scientific evidence that music filled with sorrow is more effective at making you happy than joyful tracks.***"  Okay, that explains why listening to the song "A Song for Mama" by Boyz II Men makes me smile through my tears.  My son gave me the CD single when he graduated from high school.
 
More results from a study were released in 2016 and in a press release, lead author, Tuomas Eerola, Ph.D., a professor of music cognition at Durham University, was quoted as saying, “The results help us to pinpoint the ways people regulate their mood with the help of music, as well as how music rehabilitation and music therapy might tap into these processes of comfort, relief, and enjoyment.**”
 

My Google efforts always came across a research paper written by a student named Kristian David Olson.  His paper dealt with the issue of using music to reach students, predominantly school-age students.  His hypothesis was the use of music enhances the learning process.  However, his research did have some indications for all people.  "As we will see, by simply listening to pleasant music in the background while doing an arduous task can make it seem so much easier, or in some cases, music may not increase positive attitude, but will ease the strain of an activity.****"  This statement was based on the results of a study performed at Mankato State University, to determine the effects of background music on a biology lab.
 
To incorporate his findings into my theory, I think I can safely say there is scientific evidence to prove music can help writing.  If you listen to the music that makes you happy, you should be more productive and bust through any writer's block you may be suffering from.  Okay, so maybe it’s a bit of a stretch, but it's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it.
 

Since this isn't a professional paper or one I'm submitting as a student, I've taken some liberties with the way I've cited articles.  I just used a simple asterisk, rather than annotating words and journal entries.  I have, however, given proper credit to the professionals who have done the research.  I take full credit or blame for my own conjecture and thoughts.

Thank you for your time to read my non-fiction piece.  I hope you could find a gem of knowledge to use in your everyday life.
 


 *http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/15/health/brain-music-research/index.html
 
**https://www.healthline.com/health-news/mental-listening-to-music-lifts-or-reinforces-mood-051713
 
***https://search.yahoo.com/search?fr=mcafee&type=C111US885D20160715&p=sad+songs
 


 
 


Non-Fiction Writing Contest contest entry

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A big thank-you to cleo85 for the use of her artwork.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by cleo85 at FanArtReview.com

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