Cat Unleashed

I took this picture at Philadelphia Folk Festival last Sunday when the band Les Yeux Noirs were warming up because music frees me up and relaxes me at the same time. The theme for the next Scientiae Carnival is Unleashed, so describing the effect music has on me seemed appropriate. But what has this to do with science or me as a scientist?

I am one of those people who has to move to music to the extent it is painful to sit and listen to good music especially bands like Les Yeux Noirs, Davey Spillane, and, naturally, the Mammals. How do people go to folk concerts and sit and listen? Some people seem to barely tap their feet. Dancing is exhilarating and emphasizes the effect of music – a synergistic effect or a positive feedback loop. The more I dance, the better the effect of music. Listening to music also helps me get over illness. Once as a preteen, I was at school feeling ill – the singing lesson was the best thing about that day. I also find that certain music is good when I have period pain or a headache and it can help with anger management – there is nothing like a good loud “London’s Calling” by the Clash to let out frustration. The effect of music is not just hearing it performed but also caused by performing. Whatever mood I am in, after singing practice or choir rehearsal I am relaxed and content.

Music also releases thoughts. Quite often after a good concert, either listening or performed, I think more clearly and have more exciting ideas. Though, if I need to concentrate I cannot have any distractions so music gets turned off.

I am sure that a neuroscientist would have an explanation for this effect of music on the mind – perhaps it causes the release of endorphins or serotonin?


5 thoughts on “Cat Unleashed

  1. I can attest to Lab Cat’s need to dance, having been to folk concerts with her where there was no room for dancing (well, at least the standing up kind – I am a bop-in-my-seat person myself.) Music is a great mood changer or enhancer though, whether one can dance or not, so I am in agreement on that part. I am missing my choir (we don’t perform in the summer) and looking forward to getting back to that. I know it brings a certain contentment to me as well, so perhaps the serotonin release is right on target.

  2. Interesting – I go to concerts and wonder how people can distract themselves with all that jerking around instead of listening to the wonderful music! It seems like so many people just let music wash over them rather than really listening and appreciating. I dance when I’m required to, but for me it’s like exercise, or being on maneuvers, or something. There’s just no pleasure or interest in it. I don’t know if this is a “guy thing”, although empirically it does seem like most women get way more out of dancing than most men do.

    I do agree that performing music is a wonderful experience. Quite different from hearing it done for you.

  3. Karl

    Thanks for your comment. Your comment about people jerking around to music makes me think that you must have seen me dance! We must just have different responses to music. Yours sounds much more cerebral than mine – my feet respond to the rhythms and demand that I move to the music. And yes, it is a great form of exercise. Don’t you even find yourself tapping your feet or hands in time to the music?

    I don’t think dancing is a gender based response. I know men who love to dance as much as myself – mind you it helps if they have had a drink or two before hand to lose some inhibitions. I wonder if it is an American-European difference? I’m on the European side for this one. There was definitely more dancing at gigs in England than there are in the States. Even the concert areas were set up differently with space to dance in front where in the US it seems that there are always electrical cables in the way and, of course, chairs.

  4. Pingback: Actors, Movies, and Songs » Cat Unleashed Lab Cat

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