Until I realized that rock music was my connection to the rest of the human race, I felt like I was dying, for some reason, and I didn’t know why.
– Bruce Springsteen
I was asked a question today about why we’re drawn to certain forms of music, art or movies. Well, that’s pretty damn hard to explain but I’ll give it a shot!
The semi-scientific answer as I undertand it is that when we’re exposed to stimuli such as sight, sound, smell, taste or touch a signal goes to our brain which starts to decipher whether or not it’s something that is dangerous/harmful.
From there certain hormones are released into the system depending on how we percieve the stimuli.
Now, one of our needs is to build relationships with other people (disclaimer: there may be circumstances for some people which prevent this) in order to ensure our survival.
The more people we have around to keep watch, secure food etc the more likely we are to thrive. This isn’t a one sided relationship, if we want to stay in the group we also need to contribute something!
During our evolution it was important to make ourselves understood so that no harm would come to us or our group. So, we developed different ways to communicate.
Somewhere along the way we probably started emulating the sounds of nature to tell our tribe stories of what happened during the hunt. We drew symbols. We acted out what happened. We did all these things to communicate and thus deepen our understanding of eachothers experiences & grow a bond.
Now, when we connect with another person certain hormones like serotonin & oxytocin are produced which nature curiously has built in to reward us for “good behaviour”.
When we get “kicks” hormones like endorphins (e.g exercise, laughter) & dopamine (e.g food, cigarettes etc) are produced which also reward us but not necessarily for something that’s beneficial to our survival.
So, what decides our preferences?
When I was in my teens I was really into heavy metal. I still love it, but it doesn’t give me the same feeling as it used to.
Back then I was kind of an “outsider” so I didn’t really relate to the emotions conveyed by contemporary pop. What drew me into metal was a sense that the feelings I had (teenage angst, frustration, not being understood etc) were expressed and, in some ways, glorified in the genre. Still, there was a lot of good party music & fun to be had too!
I was basically looking for something that said: “Hey, I know how you feel! It’s alright, we’re in this together bro’!”.
As I got into my 20’s I started feeling differently and had other experiences. I gained an appreciation for jazz, funk & disco. I wanted a different type of connection to music. It was a more carefree time than my teens were.
These styles aren’t “good” or “bad” per se. They just rewarded me in different ways during different periods of my life.
I’m really into synthwave & video game music. I recently found some old material from like 7 years ago when I did some tracks just for fun and that combined with Andy Last’s podcast reignited the passion!
So, the way I see it it’s basically about experiencing certain feelings that in turn send out different hormones into our system to help us enhance the emotions and in that way reward ourselves.
Do you want to relax? Do you want to dance? Do you want to feel happy? Do you want to cry? Do you want to feel sexy? Do you want to feel pumped? Do you want to jump around and goof off?
Seeing your passion for any art in this light is probably the best way to completely ruin the fun side of it, but it’s interesting to think about!
Suffice it to say that whatever we enjoy depends our needs at the moment. Do you agree or do you have another take on it? Let me know!
Have a beautiful & creative day!