A challenge !

I’ve got a challenge for you.

For a few weeks I’ve tried to find information on the science/theory of why people only seem to react best to music they recognise. Whether we are talking about pop concerts, cheesy house parties or the most underground party ever… it goes without saying the best reactions are always to tracks that people recognise.  I wonder why ?

Can you find anything to back this up, or would you like to throw some suggestions in ?

Would you mind sharing this with your friends ? I’m keen to get a wide variety of opinions.

P.S – At some point I feel a general blog about random stuff spewing from my fingertips, soon come !

Enjoy that ?

13 Comments

  1. Off the top of my head….. from personal experience and a little scientific knowledge, I would say that music recognition is contextual. People react the way they do to music they recognise because it is associated with a memory or memories of particular events or times that were formative in their development; times of learning and of course learning is an emotional process.

    Humans are wholly sensory beings and can distinguish sounds from about 6-8 weeks in vitro (in the womb) so we are well-practiced in the art of listening to sound. When we internalise sound it involves more than hearing (music recognition happens on the right hand side of the brain). It causes emotional reactions inside of us and invokes a hormonal response (you know that feeling when a track just gets you….. right there?). Music is therapy and makes us feel good – it has been used forever to influence mood and any given social gathering you can think of.

    Going back to why we behave the way we do when we hear music we recognise…. I would say that music distracts us from whatever emotional state we are in (positive or negative) and allows us zone out from the current context. However, whilst we are zoned out we are not zombie-like as our brains are working away to make associations between the songs (volume, tone, pitch and intonation of speech) and our current emotional context. The more this happens, the more it is reinforced in our learning and recall. Music I recognise actually helps me to get on and do other stuff – I have getting ready music, cleaning music, writing music etc. The issue here is to distract me from the reality of the task I am undertaking and enable a focus.

    Whilst writing this, all I have been thinking about is Soul Sundayz; how those songs were formative in my development as a person and how much emotion is invoked when I hear the songs and sing very badly along to them.

    Obviously, this is just my opinion with some circumstantial knowledge and I am sure there are other explanations to it but next time you’re singing along to a track you really love, think a little deeper and you might find that your brain is very much in control. Ta very muchly x

  2. This train of thought came after watching Beyonce at Glastonbury.
    She sang her heart out to a few ballads none of the young crowd clearly knew and so never reacted to but when she sang a cover version they went wild.
    Same as a few Jazz concerts I’ve been to.
    It annoys the hell out of me !!

  3. Or does this concern a mass which actually does not care about the music and the artist? Beyonce is famous, people love her, but do they love her for her point of view in regards to music or do they love her following a very good marketing and the fact that they’ve seen her everywhere, meaning that she is cool, her brand is cool, following both will make them look cool?

    It may probably be because of what she wears, guys get something to dream about, and girls too – as I am sure they would all love being able to wear the same clothes and move the same way. Music is the very last point.

    Like for designer clothes. Way back, they were synonymous of quality, but nowadays, do people buy them because of the abovementioned or to mess up with the creme de la creme and also feel cool and trendy? How many brands sell expensive stuff shaped of common designs but with, for instance, “Armani” written in big? Why?

    Older tracks create more reaction since people are lazy to learn by themselves. They rely on what they’ve seen around being liked and newer stuff go unnoticed.

    This is the same for dance music. I think there is commercial in the underground.

    I know people who do not follow artists or there own musical taste, but would buy whatever is in a magazine or on a radio show. Because they feel better liking something known rather than learning something new and finding their own direction.

    This is one point.

    Next one concerns dance music more directly, some calling themselves “clubbers” refuse to dance on a proper house track simply because it is at 124bpm; as for them faster means danceable.

    These are people who pretend liking electronic music, do not actually have a clue or feel anything about the music itself. They want to look like the others in the club who are really guided by the vibe.

    Another example, months ago ANDY, you said you wanted to pack more tracks than you thought in a mix but time was limited and you didn’t know whether you would edit tracks or leave some aside. How many replied telling you to set your tracks at 130bpm!? Personally I felt it was an example of people who do not know what they’re talking about and most probably also do not understand their own music.

    I think, and I insist this is my very own point of view, music has become something common, so common that listeners are not bothered in looking further themselves anymore as they will always have something being brought to them via marketing campaigns. The only difference is that they won’t know if the track is good or shit. Feed a person with nothing else but shit since his birth, after 10 years he will still be convinced this is gourmet food.

  4. I agree with both Jean and Mish.. but you will find any discussion on music will be complex!!
    So many genres, beats and bleeps.Will listening to a nazi race hating Skinhead band eg. Skrewdriver allow you to feel that same vibe as a Deep House track? Music allows the pressure to be released, to once again feel, to connect. so who knows what goes on in the mind of a nazi slam dancer? I think it has got to point now where it seems like part of the world has a identity crisis,(maybe that’s always been the case) and yes people will follow what’s cool, as told by the media.. which we know to be true. Our feelings, intelligence, social and cultural background to a large degree will influence and shape our preference. You will see at festivals 10.000 people with their hands in the air, that has little to do with music!

  5. I can’t comment as I love to hear NEW music when I’m out, I like to be surprised with fresh but good stuff. Prefer it to stuff I know, especially ‘classics’ However, the shared group experience when a tune ‘everyone’ knows comes on is one of those special clubbing moments. I even enjoy those moments when everyone else knows the tune and I don’t and I’m enjoying it fir the first time. So maybe my conclusion is its not the track but the atmosphere it creates in the criwd that matters?

  6. from my personal opinion i love both! i agree with what Mish said about memories! i love my classics circa 1992-1994 as the memories (or flashbacks!) they invoke of the nights out! the atmosphere that the music generated! like minded individuals out for a night and going crazy sweaty hands in the air in a shoe box of a club!

    but i also love the buzz of hearing a new track. not knowing what is coming next. the anticipation of what’s to come… the unknown… the build up.. established artists can build a following as they have a formula people like! i for one follow certain artists (as well as new ones) as they have a formula/sound unique to them – e.g. Soulmagic, DJ Meme, Richard Earnshaw, Rob Hayes to name but a few….

    yes, people react to tracks they know! that is why they are there – predominantly anyway! some of these tracks are what made the artist! most tours etc are purely to promote new music however you would rarely find a new artist promoting a gig without releasing first! bad business i am sure!

    As for scientific fact for backing any of this up! i have no clue! Maybe there is a chemical reaction that occurs… for me i love the feeling of hearing a new tune, and you know it will be a classic/anthem for you when you hear something that makes your heart race, your palms sweaty and the hair stick up on the back of your neck it will always be with you….

  7. There is a great quote by samuel taylor coleridge that sums it up…trying to locate exact text now…basically it states that
    The ability to recognise and place music at times from our past in such a potent way with such emotion suggests our minds are capable of a much higher level of operating than we currently are able to use…

  8. Tough one to answer bro. With a lot of big artists today people buy their music mainly because it’s been spoon fed by media. People then go to their gigs already knowing their songs, and because feel like they want to be a part of that gig, make it unforgettable, they sing in unison, making the atmosphere the best it could be. When that artist then performs new, never heard before songs, and it doesn’t go off, doesn’t mean it’s not a great song. If you’ve never heard it before, how can you sing along? If the new songs are good, the artist will live on with their tracks being purchased, gigs being busy etc. It all depends where you go to hear music I believe. You’re either happy with the music you hear or not. In our day, as commented above, we went to clubs that played new music which we reacted to with a whoop whoop etc, if it was good, or left the dancefloor if it was bad. Whichever way you still made that decision all by yourself. Ok there were ‘classics’ which were a certain floor filler played, but again as mentioned above, these tracks are ‘classic’ for a reason, the reason being the majority of the club, either right there or then, or maybe the track grew over time, or it reminds us of a certain time/place/feeling we had when heard. I really do think that nowadays, music is liked or disliked so to fit into a certain category, and the categories all but a very small minority, are all promoted by major radio/tv stations.

  9. For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts.
    I hear what you’re saying about classics Andy (familiar tracks if you wish) but I feel a combination of the/our house scene going underground and a large percentage of our clubbing generation not being exposed to new releases in the way they were 10 years ago, means that they need that comfort zone of classics…maybe not all night but to make them feel at ease.
    Sadly,while there’s plenty of opportunities to hear new release stuff on the Internet I’m not sure the majority can be bothered. They just want to click on the fm radio ….indicative of an era when money and everything came easier.
    I could be wrong.

  10. I’ve deleted about 6 attempts to answer this question already (!) Probably because these is unlikely to be a “right” answer and I don’t like to be wrong lol.

    I certainly don’t have any knowledge of the science involved but no doubt like any external influence, music stimulates the brain to emit chemicals that make us “happy/sad” (etc.).

    The main thought in my head is about people wanting to feel “part of something” or “in with the in crowd” and I think if you know the track then you do feel happier and more at one with the artist/DJ/crowd and therefore more content – if you don’t know the tune then the opposite is probably true and even if you love it you are possibly going to give a more muted response as you are not so sure about the rest of the crowds reaction and still “need” to be part of the “clique”.

    I liked reading Dannys response as it spoke to the question that I had when I read your one, clearly DJ’s & Producers & “the heads” like to hear stuff they haven’t heard before and this scene focuses very much on the new (you only have to look at “promo’s” on Traxsource to see that!) – I wonder if the question should be what drives these people (and myself) to search out the “new” rather than rely on well known or classic tracks which we know a crowd will go nuts to?

    I must admit that I like to hear a mixture of both new and old when I am out, peaks and troughs etc., 2 hours of new music without knowing any tracks can be “unenjoyable” and I think the best DJ’s/Artists will give respect to a crowd spending hard earned money and play both the new and the old, just as Beyonce did at Glastonbury.

    Final point,, SPW in May, loads of awesome DJ’s but 2 best sets for me were Roger Sanchez and Kenny Dopes (although highlight of the whole thing was Craig Smith in the Beat Bar) and all they played were classics (some better than others admittedly) but the crowds for these two sets were jumping, smiling, singing, interacting and generally loving it and it was great to be a part. The flip side of that was for me Raphael Sadiq who I had never heard before and really didn’t enjoy and a lot of others appeared to agree, he was a great showman, tight band and really gave a great performance but it left me cold as I didn’t feel part of it…..

    phew, I’m away for a little lie down.

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