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Reflection on Emotion, Music and Memory

Music is one of the most influential art forms there is. When you look at a piece of art or taste an amazing food, you have emotion and you feel a certain way, but music takes this to a whole other level. If you were to think of every moment in your life, you could probably associate a song to go along with it where as with a visual art piece would be more difficult to do. This is because the right song at the right time can change how you see something or impact you in such a great way that it is ingrained in your mind forever.

When listening to music I feel like at that moment, no matter what is happening, that everything is alright; like nothing that is happening to me could touch me when I have my earphones in or the speakers on. Music is my one escape from the real world that has been effective every time, without fail. The most vivid memory I have is when I left LJA to move to Colorado with my mom. This was not the prettiest part of my life in any way. I was not ready for the move, I was not ready to leave my dad, I was not ready. There was an ongoing custody battle between my parents, forcing us to not really interact with them for fear of being accused of choosing sides. I became very close, as close as brothers could be, with my younger brother Sammy. Danny, although going through the same situation, chose a different outlet and preferred to be alone. So Sammy and I became very good friends over our last few months in Hawaii and the year in Colorado. At the time, and don’t laugh too hard, Sammy was obsessed with Lady Gaga. All day he would shuffle through her music playing “Poker Face” or “Just Dance”. While I did not enjoy the music all that much, it made Sammy so happy to listen to it so it made me happy. To this day, while it is only 5 years ago, anytime I think of Colorado one of Lady Gaga’s songs will begin playing in my head despite my efforts to tune her out. Lady Gaga got Sammy through the tough time and that helped me get through it as well.

This experience made me wonder, why does music have such a great impact on us? I came up with a theory of my own. In music it is much easier to convey emotion and transfer that emotion from the artist to the consumer. We are trained to listen to voices and know what a person is feeling through their tone and vocal patterns. In music, the singer or songwriter can use these elements to evoke emotions in us that may not be there or are hidden under the surface. For instance, when you’re listening to a sad song, you feel sad, or an upbeat song makes you want to dance around. The complexity of this connection, I think, is impossible to describe and will not be fully understood for years to come.


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