Online class discussion #1 is open for comments August 26-September 3.
“Physiology” (pronounced fizzy-all-oh-gee) is the study of how our bodies normally function: how our cells, biochemicals, and bodily systems all work together, react to the world around us, and keep us alive.
Physiology comes into play with music when we start thinking about how our bodies react to music: things happen when we like the sounds we’re hearing (our eyes dilate, our pulse changes, our body releases dopamine) — we have a physiological reaction to the music that’s involuntary, exciting, sometimes unexpected, and often enjoyable. Our bodies’ reactions help us understand if we want to hear something again (even if we don’t directly say to ourselves, “Wow, my cerebellum became quite active during that song; I’d better listen to it again!”) because we enjoy the way they feel, and we know that listening to music might be one of the only ways to feel those particular (enjoyable) feelings again.
Below is a link to a short (19′) video presentation given by musician/researcher Deanna Choi at TEDxQueensU in 2012 (Canada) that explains what happens to our bodies when we listen to music. You might be a person that learns more easily from reading than listening, or if you may be interested in reading another short, accessible introduction to the study of music and physiology, so I’m including a link to one here. There are hundreds of similar articles out there–this has been a popular topic of research for the last several decades.
I look forward to seeing what you have to say on this topic and enjoying your conversation!
Some additional questions to get you started in the conversation this week:
- What kinds of additional physiological reactions not mentioned in the video have you experienced when listening to music?
- Why do you think our bodies react to music at all?
- If physiological reactions are involuntary, why don’t we all enjoy the same music to the same degree?