Music Geek #4: Music and emotion evoke more questions than they answer

Matthew Montgomery wears funny glasses in a Cedar City, Utah park.One thing I have particular interest in, above most things considered mundane, is the ability music has to add perspective to natural environments. Take, for instance, my walk toward the university this cold morning: Before leaving the house, I slip my headphones on and find music fitting of my mood to listen to. It varies from day to day, of course, but I’ll often to listen something that’s caught my fancy lately.

This morning, it was a revisiting of ( ), an untitled album by vaguely-post-rock group Sigur Ros. The biting cold, coupled with icy sidewalks and that powdery snow Utah is famous for, didn’t fade away with the music, but it did seem a bit less important alongside beautiful music. In fact, excepting, of course, the biting cold, the music seemed to complement what was essentially a typically winter scenario in Cedar City, Utah.

It’s a situation I often find myself in; creating “life soundtracks,” if you will, is something I hold near and dear. Now, I don’t often create mixes to accompany my life, but I do seek out albums that work well with the actions I am performing. Of course, at other times, I take an almost wry approach to the music I listen to.

Case in point: while washing the dishes yesterday, I employed some music that nearly made me get up and dance — but I did not dance! It’s amazing, isn’t it? Enough with the sardonic tone, though: I don’t honestly think all situations require a certain sort of music. If they do, my life is certainly taking the wrong direction.

Of more interest to me, though, is whether music actively effects certain moods with its playing, or if it acts as more of a metaphorical accentuator circuit to moods already in place. I certainly have been “moved” by music, in some sense, and it does seem to have enacted emotion; the real question, then, is a simple one: Why?

This is a question I hope to explore more fully in the future. Why does music affect emotion? Is it a socially constructed effect, or is it something more natural?

Matthew Montgomery is the editor in chief. He can be contacted at

One Response to “Music Geek #4: Music and emotion evoke more questions than they answer”

  1. astrogamer49 says:

    I think it is natural to us. I remember “feeling” music as a young child before I could understand what it meant or how to describe it. Actually, I probably still don’t completely understand. I heard once that babies have been known to dance in the womb to music or vibrations, and that doesn’t surprise me. To some extent, I think certain animals enjoy music also. Chickens have been known to communicate or “sing” to their chicks that are still in the egg.
    I also find interesting the way music is related to memory.

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