Music has the power to reach within your soul and pull out your innermost feelings and thoughts. Happiness, serotonin, content; that is all you feel. And, as Billy Joel once said, music is an “explosive expression of humanity.”

Music has graced the world for centuries on end, each decade and sometimes even century has its own category of music, as music influenced and was greatly influenced by each era’s culture.

However, music isn’t only specific to a time period’s culture, as it’s also specific to each ethnic culture. We tend to associate certain types of music with each culture as well, which allows us to expand our cultural knowledge from a different perspective and in a way in which limits are nonexistent.

Music has been a defining factor for a lot of decades and we often view these decades on a higher pedestal based upon musical merit. For instance, when you think of the 1920s, the first image that pops into your head is probably flappers and speakeasies, but a prominent aspect of that decade was also jazz, giving the ’20s the nickname “The Jazz Age.”

Music is so personal; it is essentially the eye into the soul and the key to the mind, as each person has their own unique taste and preferences in music. Whether that be a love for classical, rap or alternative music, it truly has no limitations.

Music can have a powerful effect on a person’s mood, demeanor and much more, as it can often determine how your day goes and the way you carry yourself. According to a study conducted by Yuna Ferguson, Ph.D., both groups of participants were told to improve their mood, however, only the participants in the experimental group who listened to upbeat classical music had an overall improvement in their mood, whereas those in the control group did not see a change.

Those aspects also influence what type of music someone listens to. For example, if you’re stressed, you will probably be more inclined to listen to calming, instrumental music, or if you’re feeling angry or excited, you will probably reach for louder, more upbeat and aggressive music.

I’ve noticed that music can be very representative of someone’s style. This includes, but is not limited to, how they dress, decorate their room, or even how they choose to spend their day. There are different types of music for different kinds of feelings, activities and people.

Music does not discriminate, as it welcomes a variety of people comprised of all cultures and backgrounds, allowing us to connect to others on a different level. Through music, we can form bonds with others we typically wouldn’t have, as music can break down cultural and even language barriers, as it provides a different lens through which we can connect with others and perceive their culture.

We often find comfort in music and its healing powers, as it can provide an outlet for stress and emotions. According to the American Psychological Association, music plays a huge role in stress relief and pain reduction, as a study in 2013 found that music worked better than prescription drugs in decreasing a patient’s anxiety preceding their surgery. Furthermore, Dr. Daniel J. Levitin and Dr. Mona Lisa Chanda found in their analysis of 400 studies that music can have a positive effect on both the function of the immune system and stress alleviation.

Not only can we listen to music to mitigate stress, but many find solace in making music themselves. Playing instruments allows people to let go of worries and to just let their creativity flow in a free way, as music does not require an artist to “color in the lines.” And sometimes listening to Led Zeppelin or even some Claude Debussy are the only interactions we need, as music has unreal capabilities.

Natalie Doud is a senior at Carlmont High School. Student News appears in the weekend edition. You can email Student News at news@smdailyjournal.com.

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(2) comments

Dirk van Ulden

Thank you Natalie - you nailed it. Music should be very important to all of us. I grew up in a household where mostly classical music was played both on actual instruments and on the radio. Over time I started to appreciate other genres starting with the Beatles. But I remember one thing a director of a local music school who said during one of our sons' recital that you will never forget where you were when you heard a particular piece of music for the first time. Please keep on writing, we need your uplifting prose during these difficult times.

Tommy Tee

Great letter, Natalie. You're so right on about music being so personal. I can go from Aaron Copeland to Metallica in the same hour. Keep the good work, and listen on!

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