Music has been part of human history for centuries and has a place in our history books from national anthems, to protest songs, hymns, lullabies and love songs.
Music and socialising
Music brings people together. We have festivals, plays, weddings and birthdays. Some research indicates that one of the most important functions of music is that it creates a feeling of social connectedness. Researchers suggest that music is a core human experience. Music allows for unique expressions of social ties and the strengthening of relationships.
Research also indicates that exposure to music in young children promotes prosocial behaviour AKA behaviour that benefits others (I.e., helping, sharing, donating etc). Some studies suggest that joint signing or drumming (controlling for diverse intellectual and personality factors) promotes these behaviours (aw)
Music and mood
We use music to make us laugh, cry and reminisce. The fact that music can influence our thoughts, feelings and behaviours isn’t much of a surprise – because the psychological impact of music can be powerful.
Think about your Spotify Playlists: are they characterised by mood?
Many researchers have interviewed a wide range of people to ask them why they listen to music. Despite the vast demographic differences, the answers were strikingly similar. One of the most common uses of music is that it helps us regulate our emotions. It has the ability to change our mood and help us process our feelings. Music lets us EMBRACE our emotions, by leaning into them.
Music and the body
Think of your favourite song: Don’t you just want to move? The benefits of dancing are well documented.
But music has more benefits than just getting your groove on (which btw releases endorphins AKA chemicals produced by the body to relieve stress and pain – heck yes!)
Music has also been proven to improve physical speech function, motor skills, regulate heart rate, breathing rate and even blood pressure *mind = blown*
Music and therapy
Along with our personal enjoyment of music, it can also be used in a professional setting.
Music therapy is a research-based allied health modality in which music is used to actively support people as they aim to improve their health, functioning and well-being. It can help people of all ages to manage their physical and mental health and enhance their quality of life.
You don’t even have to be musically inclined to benefit from music therapy – therapists plan and provide musical experiences you!
Music therapy can be used to:
At Indigo, our founding psychologist @maryindigohoang and partner @phondupe have hosted The Death Meditation: an embodied installation that explores morality, impermanence and the fragility of the human experience. Challenging, arresting, and unique – the Death Meditation guides participants through an experience of their death and the death of someone they love.
Through live guidance and music performance, this emotionally stirring journey through the darkness leaves people with a solemn appreciation of life and one’s that they love.
The Death Meditation is unlike any other experience; a powerful psychological journey with enduring after-effects and impactful real-life consequences. This raw unravelling of psychological pain combined with a moving live-performed soundtrack by electronic producer/composer @phondupe make for an experience charged with intensity. You can learn more about Death Meditation in Mary Hoang’s debut book, Darkness is Golden. In it, Mary explains and explores the philosophy behind Death Meditation and guides you through an experience yourself.
This post was written by @laurabeddoe