A world without music is as good as a soul devoid of emotions. Here are 5 ways how music increases empathy in listeners.
Recent research has provided evidence that musical interaction can promote empathy. Yet little is known about the underlying interpersonal and social psychological processes that are involved when this occurs.
Music has been with us since the dawn of human civilization. Many consider it a cosmic blessing, while to others, it is their best friend. To composers, it is an art. Whatever it is, music always brings out the best in us. It helps us to express ourselves to the fullest.
But did you know, there’s a direct relation between music and empathy?
In recent years, researchers have established a powerful relation between music and empathy.
In the video below, Musician Diane Miller discusses part of what’s required of us to be captivated by music, especially tunes that represent a culture or community different from our own. Furthermore, how that captivation can lead to empathy, understanding and positive fulfillment.
Yes, music can make a person more empathic. The more we listen to music, the more we are able to cultivate and nourish empathy.
Here are 5 ways how music increases empathy in listeners
1. It Releases Emotional Tension
Throughout the day we accumulate a lot of stress, especially if you’re working. Our nerves tend to stiffen, resulting in chronic fatigue and depression. But what happens when you return home after a tiring day? You put on your earphones and dive into your playlist. The music you play helps to relax your mind. It takes away all the stress.
But at the same time, it replaces resentment and frustration with empathy and compassion. Suddenly you start feeling good and radiate positive vibes. These vibes in turn nourish the empathy that becomes suppressed under everyday hassles.
Read Empathy Can Transform the World
2. It Rejuvenates The Spirit
We don’t end up liking every music we listen to. But the ones we do, tend to hold a lifelong place in our soul. And it is this very music that lifts any emotional burden that weighs down on us. Whether it is sadness, anxiety, depression, or anger, music helps us to recover and re-energize our spirit. Even the most tired soul gets back the zeal they’ve once lost.
And it is through this rejuvenation do the gates of empathy open. The positive vibe released from the compositions makes us feel good, thus instilling the urge to be more compassionate to others. The negatives only outweigh the positives when we stop listening to our favorite tracks, thus gradually receding from the positiveness. In short music increases empathy.
Read Music Therapy for depression – how can it heal you?
3. The Lyrics Give Us Purpose
Every human being is born with a purpose. Some discover theirs, others remain ignorant of it. But music is a tool that has the ability to plant the seed to this discovery. It depends whether we are watering it properly or not. Especially when it comes to lyrics, we find a place where we can relate our deepest subconscious thoughts. It happens quite often that we are going through the lyrics, when all of a sudden, they click like a flash of light, rendering a whole new meaning to our life.
Before reading the lyrics you never knew that there’s a purpose, a calling hidden deep within you. But when the words hit you, the emotions tend to resurface. So how does it make us more empathic. Well, finding a purpose in life gives us a sense of belonging. We realize who we are, and what we want. When we find a place in ourselves, we find a place in others as well. This lays the foundation of a more empathic approach towards life. That is why listening music increases empathy.
4. The Magic In Certain Scales
Different composers have their own unique ways of constructing musical pieces. Not all use the same scale or chord progressions. The metronome, the pitch, the octaves function in harmony to give rise to different genres of music. There are some scales however, that deliver a direct hit to our subconscious. It often happens, that you’re listening to a certain song, when all of a sudden, the player improvises on a particular scale or chord progression that makes you tremendously joyous.
The feeling cannot be put in words. It is more of a transcendental emotion that we experience when that particular progression of notes is played. We keep hitting the replay button to get the feeling again and again. Believe it or not, no negative emotion is powerful enough to cloud the empathic vibrations that emanate from these scales. This calms our material agitations and directs our minds towards universal compassion and brotherhood.
Read The Healing Power of Music: How Music Therapy Improves Mental Health
5. It Brings Down Conventional Barriers
When you go to a concert, the authorities don’t judge you based on your nationality. Whether you’re an Asian, American, European, etc, your ticket and seat number are not decided on those parameters. Also, the sound of music is universal. It renders the same amount of euphoria irrespective of race, gender, age and nationalities.
Music speaks a language that is understood by all. It helps remove all the conventional cross border stigmas and create a spiritual bonding overseas. Thousands of people from across the globe gather in concerts to celebrate communion. The empathy generated from this universal brotherhood is one of the highest forms of positiveness.
No cultural orthodoxy, no matter how constitutionally justified they are, can tarnish this spiritual bonding. Throughout history, music has proven itself as one of the prime movers of emotional upliftment and empathic revolutions across the world.
- Greenberg, D.M., Rentfrow, P.J. and Baron-Cohen, S., 2015. Can music increase empathy? interpreting musical experience through the empathizing–systemizing (ES) theory: implications for autism. Empirical Musicology Review, 10(1-2), pp.80-95.
- Kalliopuska, M. and Ruokonen, I., 1993. A study with a follow-up of the effects of music education on holistic development of empathy. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 76(1), pp.131-137.
- Slade, A., Olsen, K.N. and Thompson, W.F., 2019. An investigation of empathy in male and female fans of aggressive music. Musicae Scientiae, p.1029864919860169.
- Rabinowitch, T.C., 2015. How, rather than what type of, music increases empathy. Empirical Musicology Review, 10(1-2), pp.96-98.
Leave a Reply