An Ode to the Captivating Nature of Music


Kelley Dunn

Pre-covid, thousands gather to experience live music down at RiversEdge in Hamilton.

There is something all encompassing about the melody of your favorite song or perhaps the pulsating vibration you feel at a live concert. Music not only communicates sound, but enables us to feel deeply- whether that be cheerful or broken, robust or weak. 

Like most art forms, music is another way to communicate feeling or emotion. Regardless of lyrics, the very nature of how songs are composed together have proven to compel individuals. For example, you wouldn’t turn on heavy metal to fall asleep. Most likely you’d gravitate towards soft acoustic or instrumentals because it helps to set that mood and calm you down. 

Mood in music can also be observed by how directors and composers in film chose to place sequences. Horror films wouldn’t feel as terrifying and romantic screenplays probably wouldn’t elicit the tears they do without the notes hooking you at every beat. Scientifically, this does have meaning. 

“The current favourite theory among scientists who study the cognition of music – how we process it mentally – dates back to 1956, when the philosopher and composer Leonard Meyer suggested that emotion in music is all about what we expect, and whether or not we get it. Meyer drew on earlier psychological theories of emotion, which proposed that it arises when we’re unable to satisfy some desire. That, as you might imagine, creates frustration or anger – but if we then find what we’re looking for, be it love or a cigarette, the payoff is all the sweeter,” stated an article titled Will We Ever… Understand Why Music Makes Us Feel Good? by Philip Ball on 

This makes sense, as music contains certain melodies which build and break; possibly creating a feeling of want. Whether that’s for a conclusion of the pattern you’re hearing or the anticipation of the final riff. 

The article continued saying, “This, Meyer argued, is what music does too. It sets up sonic patterns and regularities that tempt us to make unconscious predictions about what’s coming next. If we’re right, the brain gives itself a little reward – as we’d now see it, a surge of dopamine. The constant dance between expectation and outcome thus enlivens the brain with a pleasurable play of emotions.” 

Although composition of music plays into emotion, the lyrics also have power to transform that beat into something absolutely bewitching. Artists are given the responsibility to story tell through the word they chose for a song. These stories are a mode for us to react and relate. And in the case that we relate heavily to the words or feelings expressed, it can warrant strong connection. We feel as if our inner thoughts are verbalized in a way we never could express them on our own. 

Senior Spencer Buhrts stated, “Music can make me feel comforted, such as when I’m listening to emotional songs that I can relate to. They help me find the strength to keep pushing forward when faced with tough obstacles. However, music can also create a full range of emotions that boost my mood, fuel my anger, or make me contemplate deep thoughts.”

We see and understand the world through a variance of lenses, but music cultivates a telescope of color and wonder when you’re able to look into it. It makes no difference whether the hue is deep red or cool blue, you will leave feeling a bit more understood. 

“Music is meaningful. There’s always something behind that one song and the meaning behind the words that can make you feel a type of way. Whether that be soulful, full of life, on top of the world, or even sad,” stated Junior Chyanne Jackson. 

Today when you turn on a playlist, watch a film, or simply hear the sounds of nature, be reminded of the vast beauties that come with sound. Perhaps we may all become a people that marvel at the intricacy and emotive which we name to be music.