Music is one of the oldest forms of entertainment. Before film, there was music. Music is something more than just a song; it’s emotion and a memory. Many times, when people hear certain songs, they can relate it back to a person, smell, and time of their life. Just try for a second to imagine a world without music. It’s extremely difficult. Now we’ve established the importance of music and how it can remind you of memories, let’s talk about that feeling you get when you listen to a certain part of a song that really resonates with you. What many call ‘chills’. If you are someone who experiences this, you have a brain with a unique function.
The brain is a very complex organ that is very difficult to understand. However, we do understand the science and reasons behind why music gives you the chills. When you listen to a specific note, chord, or sound and your body gets a chill, dopamine is being released into your brain. The music activates the part of your brain that gets associated with reward and motivation, causing dopamine to be released. This part of the brain is activated by addiction and is commonly associated with sugar, sex and drugs. Maybe that’s why they say ‘Sex, Drugs and Rock n Roll’.
If you experience this feeling whilst listening to music, don’t worry, you haven’t got a special power that allows you to feel music, and there is no need to rush to the doctor! But you are part of 50% of the population that can. No matter what the genre of music is, your body will still experience this feeling. It can range from Beethoven, Cheryl Cole, Slipknot and Whitney Houston. It all causes the same effect (depending on what your personality is like). The style of music that you prefer is the style that will most likely give you this feeling.
The closest feeling that it can be compared to is the feeling of ASMR. ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. This feeling is described as a chilling, tingling sensation that starts at the scalp and works its way down the body causing an unknown feeling. ASMR is set off by visual or auditory triggers, and this is normally unintentional.
When you hear the strum of the chord, or the sound of a note, your body goes on an extremely exciting journey. It starts with the heart rate increasing followed by your pupils dilating, and then your body temperature rises. The body loses the sense of being able to control itself due to the blood redirecting to the legs, and then you find yourself tapping your feet away without remembering that you started! . After this, the dopamine is released into the brain and then you get the sensational, spine tingling feeling running down your body.
It has been found that the human body experiences the chill at higher intensity when it knows what is about to happen. This is because the brain is expecting the moment to occur, which allows it to process what is going to happen and prepare the body for the feeling. The body enjoys guessing if the dopamine filled moment is about to arrive. The longer you have to wait for that note, then the better the experience will be, due to the fact that your brain is familiar to the feeling that is about to occur. Not everybody experiences this feeling, however, reports have found that 90% of musicians experience the chill.
Although 90% of musicians experience the dopamine release due to music, only 50% of the population do. Music is the gift that keeps on giving. It is enjoyable to listen to even when the dopamine levels haven’t risen. When that moment does arrive, however, the song really does know how to hit the right note.