If you’ve always wondered why music sometimes gives you chills, author
and professor Jeanette Bicknell has some compelling answers in her new
book, Why Music Moves Us.
Bicknell, a philosophy of music professor at the Ontario College of Art & Design, spent years researching the social, neurological and philosophical underpinnings of what it is exactly in music that can give people a real, physical reaction to the music they enjoy.
What she found was a multitude of reasons, pinned together with a common social context that proves much of music’s power is created by the individual listeners themselves.
“Part of what makes an experience of music moving is the meaning placed on it by our culture.
“People find meaning in music partly based on things that are important to them — it’s not like a pill you can take or something mechanical you can just plug in an expect it to work the same every time,” Bicknell said.
Amongst some of the more interesting findings of Bicknell’s research was the fact that pleasurable experiences of music register in the brain in ways similar to drug highs or sex.
Scientists believe that particularly strong experiences of music can make people release the social bonding hormone oxytocin, which is usually release by humans during orgasm and specifically by women during things like childbirth.