Music speaks when words fail – 17/09/19

Music can offer an escape to those suffering with their mental health. Songwriting and listening to music are seen as forms of emotional expression. Music’s performance, its creation and the effect it has on those who listen to it shows that music and emotions are intertwined and offers support to those struggling with their mental health.

Studies show that listening to music can trigger the brain to release chemicals that distract the body from pain; our auditory cortex communicates with other areas of our brains that control emotion and memory. We can all resonate with the idea that the music we play often mirrors our mood. So, whether we are happy, sad or even angry, music can cater for all. We can use music to help us get out of a mentally dark place or sometimes we use it to reflect our happiness and joy.

The catharsis that artists feel when writing and performing also supports the idea that our emotions and music are intertwined. Songwriting and composing poetry go hand in hand – music is written to be sung rather than spoken – but vitally, both reflect the artist’s emotions. Poetry is often considered an emotional release, a way to express or emotions, and song writing shouldn’t be considered any different. In addition to expressing emotions in the words that artists write, their performance on stage also offers a release of emotions. According to research, over 90% of people get goose bumps or shiver when they hear certain music. This highlights that music and emotions are intertwined. Each song is associated with an emotion, to love, to be angry, to be in pain. Creating music has proven to have a positive impact upon mental health. The emotions that artists express within their music can help those who listen to it to feel supported. Often, when we struggle with our mental health, we feel isolated or misunderstood. The expression of emotion can help listeners to feel that they are understood and that others have felt the same way.

Another way that music can assist with improving your mental health is through attending music concerts; the euphoria that you experience can help you to feel uplifted. Other research has stated that listening to music engages parts of our brains that are also engaged when paying attention. The attention we pay to the rhythm, the lyrics and the instruments can help us to be distracted from what we are feeling. Listening to music whilst working is proven to improve productivity, so listening to music while you work or complete your summative coursework might help you to be more productive, but it also helps to relieve the stress we experience as a result of academic pressure.

Music uses language in such an effective and emotional way. The quotation ‘music speaks when words fail’ is so significant when trying to explain how music is utilised as a form of expression, but also how using music as a form of expression can improve mental wellbeing.

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