Why Does Music Stir Our Emotions?

Have you ever had a “down” day or been a bit depressed only to feel your spirits lifted dramatically when you heard a beautiful song?  Or perhaps, in contrast, you were feeling pretty good and a terrible song that just “jarred” you came on the rado, prompting you to “turn it off” and go find your iPod with the songs you like on it!  What causes a person to hear an old song from “way back” and immediately know exactly where you were and what you were doing when that song was played the first time? It can conjure up deep emotions, such as a lost love, dear ones who have passed away, or profound sadness or joy.

I was fascinated when I interviewed a man who had his doctorate in bio physics on my TV show a few years back.  As I visited with him over the course of a couple of programs, he detailed something I had been unaware of: geometric fractals evident in music!  Of course geometry and fractals are present in every aspect of creation and the world around us.  I just had never realized what a big part they play in the composition of music!  If you are interested at all in this, do an online search for “fractals in music” and you will be amazed!  Some of this is very technical for the average non-mathematician like me (trust me on this one!), but as a musician I was especially interested in something he told me.  Studies have been conducted on various types of music and their effects on the human brain.  When chaotic, jarring music with much dissonance was analyzed on the computer using a meter to indicate pitch and timbre, the results came back as complete discord on the fractal scale.  Then they tried putting a Johann Sebastian Bach fugue to the test and the results were perfect, pure, gemoetrically correct fractal patterns on the graph!  Amazing!!

Now, I do not claim to undertstand fractal geometry in any mode, let alone music, but I do know that our God who created the universe is a God of order!  I also know from my long-running experience as a musician that music is very mathematical and scientific in its patterns and that if you understand them, you can probably create some beautiful music!  If you choose to break these patterns the results will be chaotic and stressful.  The reason for this is simple:  God created music, and if proper patterns are followed, and it is sung or played correctly, it will be beautiful and restful to our souls!

A great example in the Word of God about music soothing, calming and healing a troubled spirit is found in I Samuel 16:14-23 where King Saul had a vexing, troubling spirit which had descended upon him.  His servants, in an effort to calm him, suggested to him that he “seek out a man who is a skillful player on the harp.  And it shall be that he will play it with his hand when the distressing spirit from God is upon you, and you shall be well.”  (v. 16, NKJV)   His servants found David, at the King’s request, and brought him to Saul.  Verse 23 concludes the story by saying, “And so it was, whenever the (evil) spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand.  Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him.”  (NKJV)  It appears that this oppressing spirit (allowed with God’s permission because Saul was doing wicked things in His eyes) came frequently upon the King and the only thing that would help rid him of it was David’s skillful playing on the harp!

Are you being troubled with depressing thoughts or feeling you are “under attack”?  The enemy of your soul wants to keep you discouraged and “down”,  but God has given us a great weapon against these attacks:  praise and worship to Him through music!  Why not put on some praise music and begin to worship right there in your home?  You will soon dispel the gloominess!  Soon you will be singing the praises of God and feeling those oppressive spirits of discouragement leave!  I Samuel 30:6 says, “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him…but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” (KJV)  I don’t think any of us are dealing with the possibility of being stoned!  If the great King David needed encouragement, and looked to the Lord for it, how much more should we, in our daily lives!  Many psalms begin with great distress and anguish and finish with joy and victory when the psalmist begins to praise and worship God (Yahweh) in the midst of his trouble!  I think this is directly related to music, so once again, I urge you to be a worshipper because He loves to hear your praises!  Watch your situation turn around as you begin to sing and praise the Lord!

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