Analytical 20: Music

1 December, 2017


Music can connect us to the emotions of others and ourselves yet so many of us won’t give all it has to offer a chance. We explore how it help and why it’s amazing.

Transcript available
[Music] Everything can be improved, iterated and refined. If that's true, maybe you haven't analysed it enough. Calculate choices carefully considered. Absolutely analytical. Analytical is part of the Engineered Network and to support our shows, including this one, head over to our Patreon page and for other great shows, I used to think that certain collections of sounds, I guess you might call them, well, they weren't, they just weren't music. Yeah, that's speaking, or that's talk singing kind of thing. That wasn't really music either. But in my teenage years, I sort of developed an affinity for classical music and baroque music and some other people that, you know, like the same kind of music around that time suggested that "modern music", that wasn't real music. And after a while, you sort of get tired of hearing the same old music and you want to try something different or at least I certainly did and I think a lot of people go through phases like that in their life and that's a good thing. And I remember a few years ago, a friend of mine on Twitter suggested that I try listening to an album by Nine Inch Nails called Downward Spiral and I gave that a try and I must admit I was very skeptical and on the first listen actually turns out I actually hated all of it, like really didn't like it and I decided you know what, in fairness, I'm going to give this a second chance. And on the second listen, I heard something that I liked in just one of the songs, but it was something. And over the years, I've also tried very hard to challenge my perceptions of music, you know, the types that I listen to and the opinions about other people's opinions about music as well, rather than being too quick to judge. Because it really is a gross oversimplification to make statements like all R&B or all classical or all rap is just rubbish. It's not real music. Yeah, saying things like that is just it's very, very unfair. And just like any for any skill that you might choose to practice and develop, you know, creating music from scratch. So that does take practice, a lot of hard work and sometimes a bit of natural talent is absolutely necessary if you're going to stand out amongst your peers and be successful. So yeah, there are people that have written music like everyone from Mozart to Beethoven, Chopin, Tchaikovsky. More recently, people like Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, John Lennon, Elton John, and then groups like In Excess, Metallica, even the Beastie Boys. You know, getting into more more recent times, you could list hundreds more. And there were hundreds, if not thousands of others that have written music that very few people liked or even listened to. So, immediately you have to respect the artists that wrote the music and became as popular as they have. So, they obviously had some talent and they had something special, no matter what the genre, no matter what kind of music it was, there was something about that people found compelling. So dismissing their music just based on its genre because you don't like that genre or you just didn't really like that specific part of that genre really doesn't make any sense in that dimension at all. Like okay so here comes the so what moment. So so what? You know why should I care about other genres and if I don't like them? The question I want want to understand though is why don't you like them? Have you actually listened to them? Seriously, listen to them? And by that, I mean, give them a chance. Because beyond respecting the talent and the effort that went into making that music, what about what it could do for you? So I'm going to suggest a thought, just one, that I'd like you, dear listener, to give some serious thought. Every accepted genre or class of music has at least one piece, one song, if you like, or one movement of one piece that you will like. As a guarantee, you will. It might take one listen, if you're lucky, or 10 listens, or maybe even more, to that piece for you to connect to it, but you will if you give it a chance. And I think fundamentally why that will occur is because, well, we are just fundamentally emotional creatures. That kind of sucks, but you know, it is kind of what it is. It doesn't all suck, but the reality is that we connect our sounds that we hear, but on top of those sounds, we also can connect structured language and connect that with our thoughts and our memories. The sequence seems to be like an imprinting of sorts. So we'll hear a sound or a tune or lyrics during an event or a period where we're feeling something either relaxing, exciting, or perhaps the opposite, terrifying, or maybe we hear something when we're angry. And then that sound is connected in our memory with that event and that feeling at that time. So when we hear the sound again, that emotion that we felt comes back, whether it was good or bad. So it's been connected with that music. And one of the theories I've always considered is that when we're younger, we hear a tune, we associate that with a time before stress, the stress of commitment or having responsibilities, having a job, having a heavily taxed income and so on. So we tend to find the music that we heard during those years, those formative years, as being more relaxing as almost as a default, a reminder of simpler times maybe. But another thing that happens when we talk about our musical tastes with others and when we find a, we share a common musical experience with other people. Or of course the other option is that we go to a concert where they're playing music and we're around other people that are also enjoying the same music. So when you're going to a concert, it's a very different experience and that feeling at the concert is so much more intense than listening in your headphones on a train, even if it's the same song. After feeling that concert vibe in the air and the music, the music that you hear is forever different when you hear that song after that concert. It takes you back to that concert because of that connection. So with other people, when you have musical interests in common, it's a form of an emotional sharing and an emotional connection that you feel with other people that share that same musical connection. And then in that way, music becomes popular. The more people hear it, think that it's OK, share that fact with other people, and then people feel like there's an emotional, they're emotionally part of something bigger and they're connected together by that music. And the connection seems to be more basic than language, maybe that's because language requires more cognitive processing and more conscious thought. than just listening to music, but I'm not sure about that exactly. I suppose lyrics, though, are an important connecting tissue because lyrics can associate sounds and sounds can associate lyrics because they're connected emotionally. Hence, if you hear a lyrical thought in one genre, if it's spoken in another genre, then that can bridge the two together. Alternatively, a common melody popular in one genre can cross into different genres and bridge the two as well. So getting back to the suggestion that at the very beginning of this, this, this little rant, you should try to connect with a different genre of music from time to time, or, or perhaps why should you, why? Well, I think it would help to appreciate an emotional connection to a different sound or lyric than what you're used to just from time to time. I think, I feel like music is a bit like traveling. Listening to a wide variety of it can broaden your horizons, so to speak. But it does so, I think, more emotively than experientially. Connecting to different memories and emotions through music can just be a different way to get to know yourself, but also to connect with others via that medium. And, you know, they say it's always important to have things in common. Well, yes. But, ultimately what have you got to lose? Except maybe a few minutes of your time listening to a song or two or three or four? I mean, seriously, if you found time to listen to ten minutes of me prattling on about listening to music, you could have fit three modern songs, approximately, into the same amount of time it's taken you, dear listener, to listen to this point in this podcast. So go on then. What are you waiting for? Get listening. If you're enjoying Analytical and want to support the show, you can, like some of our backers Ivan and Chris Stone. They and many others are patrons of the show via Patreon, and you can find it at or one word. Patron rewards include a named thank you on the website, a named thank you at the end of episodes, access to pages of raw show notes, as well as ad-free, higher quality releases of every episode. There's a back catalog of ad-free episodes available right now, and a new making an episode tier has been added as well if you'd like to contribute something anything at all there's lots of great rewards and beyond that it's all very much appreciated analytical is part of the engineered network and you can find it at engineered dot network and you can follow me on mastodon at chigi at engineered dot space or for our shows on twitter at engineered underscore net except nothing question everything it's always a good time to analyze something I'm John Chigi Thanks for listening. (upbeat music) [Music] you
Duration 10 minutes and 46 seconds Direct Download

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John Chidgey

John Chidgey

John is an Electrical, Instrumentation and Control Systems Engineer, software developer, podcaster, vocal actor and runs TechDistortion and the Engineered Network. John is a Chartered Professional Engineer in both Electrical Engineering and Information, Telecommunications and Electronics Engineering (ITEE) and a semi-regular conference speaker.

John has produced and appeared on many podcasts including Pragmatic and Causality and is available for hire for Vocal Acting or advertising. He has experience and interest in HMI Design, Alarm Management, Cyber-security and Root Cause Analysis.

You can find him on the Fediverse and on Twitter.