“Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought.”
How do you feel when you listen to music? Whether alone or with others, it is fascinating how powerfully music can engage the senses.
Every culture shares one thing in common – music.
Archeologists know this because they’ve discovered all types of instruments throughout the world. In fact, the oldest instruments are flutes found in a cave in Germany. Carbon dating indicates they’re between 42,000 and 43,000 years old (BBC, 2012).
Researchers are learning how music affects our brain. They know that like language, music competence happens through exposure and develops along a typical timetable (Croom, 2011).
But why is music competence important to our development? What purpose does it serve?
Scientists also want to know how music affects our perception of pain or anxiety. Can it increase hope? How does listening to music with other people change our experience of it?
Most people agree that music lifts us up when we’re sad. It helps us concentrate and relax. As Leo Tolstoy wrote,
“Music is the shorthand of emotion.”
Now psychologists and neuroscientists are determining if he’s right.
“There are several types of music festivals throughout the world. Some are religious. Others are futuristic. Some take us back in time. They all serve a purpose: to bring like-minded people of all ages and stages of life together. If you’re a concert or festival goer, you’ll be happy to know that there are a few benefits to attending festivals”.
Yolal and colleagues (2009) identified family togetherness, event loyalty, escape/excitement, event novelty, and socialization as important to attendees. They studied people at the Eskisehir International Festival.
The researchers found gender difference among attendees. Females stressed the importance of family togetherness, escape/excitement, and event novelty. They also discovered age differences. Older attendees ranked family togetherness as important. Younger attendees cited socialization and event loyalty. As people aged or had more education, they favored event novelty.
Novelty is one thing our brains love. Whether it’s a shiny new car, house, shoes, or almost anything, newness gets our attention. You could attend the same music festival every year and still experience novelty.
The potential reward of something new triggers the release of dopamine. Novelty isn’t the actual reward, but what it could represent is. When we experience something new, the frontal and temporal regions activate. The release of dopamine motivates seeking behavior (Bunzeck & Duzel, 2006).
The desire to socialize isn’t a surprise. We evolved as a social species. Matthew Lieberman explains that we’re wired to connect with other people. Music festivals are a great place for this to happen.