I want to crawl into the hole in his violin
I want to sleep there
until my flesh
– Ocean Vuong
As winter makes it’s chilly appearance here in the southern hemisphere it’s almost rite of passage to spend at least a fraction of your week nestled indoors with moody and whimsical tunes gently passing through the speaker as you drink tea, read a book, or cook your food.
But the same rings true for hot summer nights; wandering boardwalks under dimly lit sky lost in your own private cinematic universe thanks to headphones and 3G.
Music is our universal language. The carrier of insight – uplifting and motivating. The generous giver of pleasure – soothing, revealing. Wherever we reside and whatever we feel, songs can transport us to lands of connection with friends and dear ones, and even to the makers of the music themselves.
A tune played to us as a baby still holds the power to lull us to sleep decades on. One significant piece of music can seem to aptly sum up the life and spirit of a person as their casket is carried from the church, leaving mourners with one final touch.
Scientists say music can effect the biology of a listener in ways similar to painkillers. A 2013 study saw people given the opioid blocking drug Naltrexone experience lower levels of satisfaction as they listened to a favourite song, ‘suggesting music activates the release of pain-relieving opioids.’
Well respected neurologist Oliver Sacks once wrote a book called Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, which revealed music as a powerful agent for evoking memory in those with memory loss, and even waking patients from commas. Music can also be a tool for revolution, promoting social justice messages to the masses, and bringing crowds together to unite for the spoken cause. Going on to define and cement a theme in the cultural memory of a specific time. Think of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine,’ or ‘Beds Are Burning’ by Midnight Oil, a little closer to home.
This short film featured on NOWNESS.com is a touching exploration of how sense of place and genetic memory can be passed down through song. Similar to Bruce Chatwin’s special book The Songlines which reveals the process of Indigenous people using music to map the border lines of Australia.
Fascinating studies have also asked the question: can music influence the growth and health of other living things? One from 1962 even found that some plants grew a further 20% in height and 72% in biomass when exposed to certain sounds. Other studies have explored the effects of music on wine perception and taste, (view the findings here), and even its influence on swaying supermarket customers’ wine purchase choices – playing background music with strong national associations resulted in customers buying wine from the respective country!
To celebrate the joys of sound waves and sing-songs we have picked a few of our current favourite playlists on Spotify for you to indulge in this coming week –
For general daily life:
For when you’re feeling dreamy and nostalgic:
For your smooth party evenings:
For a bit of global culture:
For pondering the rain, and work productivity: