Music Geek #5: Snow-covered headphones call for post-rock-stained emotional inquiry

Matthew Montgomery wears funny glasses in a Cedar City, Utah park.Once again, I’ve turned my attention to atmospherically pleasing music; this time, my interest has been sparked by flurrying snow that’s made its way back to Cedar City. I woke up, left for school, and was given a bit of a hassle by some inclement weather, but nothing was terribly pressing: No, it wasn’t until later that the real weather kicked in.

And it did kick in. Returning to the university after a lunch break, I suddenly found movement to be restricted by stabbing cold wind, my vision blocked by quickly approaching flakes of snow. So, what did I do? I slipped headphones over my bearded head, switched my music playing device (an iPod, if you must ask) to something suitable, and walked, head down.

What’s suitable in a circumstance like this, though? I certainly would be a bit off the mark if I’d decided upon, say, The Supremes, I’d wager. This in mind, I turned my attention toward something markedly more “depressing:” Godspeed You! Black Emperor. I was hardly able to finish a track before reaching my destination, but it made the trip seem considerably faster than it might have seemed otherwise — or maybe I was just eager to remove myself from the cold. I think that’s more likely. Whatever the case, I found the music to be fairly well-suited to my environment, for better or worse.

Now, the question again is raised: What of emotion? Was my emotional state somehow affected by the music I listened to? To answer briefly, no; to answer more fully, yes. Why, you ask? I was already feeling a bit melancholy before listening to the Montreal post-rockers, though not terribly so, nor was I feeling much more melancholy afterward. Still, this doesn’t quite answer the question, so let us ask it a bit differently: Would I have been in a remarkably different mood had I been listening to the aforementioned Motown women, or would I simply have felt just as melancholy?

Now, in this case, I cannot positively answer “yes” or “no,” as I didn’t actually confirm anything with an extensive study. More generally, though, I believe I can say that my choice of music did affect my emotional state, for better or worse. The key, then, is learning how to harness this; we ought also explore the physical basis and societal basis for such an effect. Whatever the answer, music is still infinitely interesting, but to encounter more answers to more of our questions can only prove beneficial.

Matthew Montgomery is the editor in chief.

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