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Music Syncs Minds, Emotions & Images
October 31, 2012

Ever been at a club or a concert and felt you were dancing in a sea of like-minded people? You were right according to a recent study on music and its effect on our minds and emotions.

Researchers with the University of Singapore have determined that rhythmic sound “not only coordinates the behavior of people in a group, it also coordinates their thinking–the mental processes of individuals in the group become synchronized.”

They were surprised to also find that when images appeared before subjects in rhythm with a four-count measure, their brains perceived the image to be larger than if the image appeared out of sync with the beat or in silence.

The implications for music in advertising are profound: real proof that when music appears in sync with a product’s image, it appears larger in the audience’s mind than if out of sync or worse: with no music at all.

And what about duration of rhythm? Doesn’t matter, according to the study’s leader, psychologist Annett Schirmer: “Within a few measures of music your brain waves start to get in synch with the rhythm.” Meaning even a five-second ad appears stronger in the mind’s eye with music than without for every person who watches the ad.

At last: solid scientific evidence that composers (and video editors) are worth their weight in gold.

Learn More @ Scientific American…

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  1. Music and Emotions

    The most difficult problem in answering the question of how music creates emotions is likely to be the fact that assignments of musical elements and emotions can never be defined clearly. The solution of this problem is the Theory of Musical Equilibration. It says that music can’t convey any emotion at all, but merely volitional processes, the music listener identifies with. Then in the process of identifying the volitional processes are colored with emotions. The same happens when we watch an exciting film and identify with the volitional processes of our favorite figures. Here, too, just the process of identification generates emotions.
    An example: If you perceive a major chord, you normally identify with the will “Yes, I want to…”. If you perceive a minor chord, you identify normally with the will “I don’t want any more…”. If you play the minor chord softly, you connect the will “I don’t want any more…” with a feeling of sadness. If you play the minor chord loudly, you connect the same will with a feeling of rage. You distinguish in the same way as you would distinguish, if someone would say the words “I don’t want anymore…” the first time softly and the second time loudly.
    Because this detour of emotions via volitional processes was not detected, also all music psychological and neurological experiments, to answer the question of the origin of the emotions in the music, failed.
    But how music can convey volitional processes? These volitional processes have something to do with the phenomena which early music theorists called “lead”, “leading tone” or “striving effects”. If we reverse this musical phenomena in imagination into its opposite (not the sound wants to change – but the listener identifies with a will not to change the sound) we have found the contents of will, the music listener identifies with. In practice, everything becomes a bit more complicated, so that even more sophisticated volitional processes can be represented musically.

    Bernd Willimek