Please send any suggestions and comments.
The Association for Youth, Children and Natural Psychology operates as a 501 c(3) non-profit, and is a New Jersey non-profit corporation.
Book covers in this column are Amazon-linked (off-site).
Unless otherwise stated, all text links are to on-site AYCNP pages.
Sells like Teen Spirit: Music, Youth Culture, and Social Crisis by Ryan Moore
Named after one of the most recognizable alternative rock songs of all time, Sells Like Teen Spirit by Ryan Moore analyzes how social, political, and economic transitions over four decades have changed the landscape of music. The youth had been singing about peace in the 60s, belting out a more rebellious and experimental tones in the 70s, with the rise of disco and hip hop in the late 70s, into the 80s and until today.
Youth of the '90s move on to a somewhat democratic, self-expressing tune of today's youth of frustration, desperation, and pleasure, much of which is produced with pure capitalist motive. Moore succeeds in providing an enthralling first-hand narrative about the spectacle and resonance of modern music, capturing the political, economic, and social changes that led to the development of an assortment of rock subgenres.
Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology (Oxford Library of Psychology) by Susan Hallam, Ian Cross, Michael Thaut
Authoritative and reviews of original research in a particular subject area. Specially commissioned chapters from leading figures in the discipline give critical examinations of the progress and direction of debates, as well as a foundation for future research. The field of Music Psychology has grown dramatically in the past 20 years, to emerge from being just a minor topic to one of mainstream interest within the brain sciences. However, until now, there has been no comprehensive reference text in the field.
A Concise History of Western Music,
by Paul Griffiths
Paul Griffiths delivers a "concise" history of music, tracing the development of music since the ancient Babylonian and Greek civilization, until modern classical composers. Griffiths track these developments in 24 short chapters and provides an enlightening read for students, teachers, and lovers of music. Travel in time in this engulfing, enchanting, and informative book about music. The American Library Association states, "A well-written must for classical-music listeners and teachers."
Music, Language and the Brain
by Aniruddh D. Patel
"The question of whether parallels exist between music and language has until now been a question of wide interest and speculation. This landmark monograph provides a detailed and informed framework for examining this question scientifically.
The presentation presumes no prior specialized knowledge and offers clear explanations of the technical ideas necessary inspiring agenda for future research, ranging from intriguing speculations to carefully-worked out experimental designs.Music, Language, and the Brain will shape and inform research on the relationship between music and language for decades to come."--Carol L. Krumhansl, Prof. of Psychology, Cornell University
Psychology of Music: From Sound to Significance, by Siu-Lan Tan, Peter Pfordresher, Rom Harré
Psychology of Music: From Sound to Significance provides an overview of classic studies in the psychology of music, as well as current current studies and research. It provides a comprehensive summary of current and historical research, along with with critical assessments.
The interdisciplinary field of music psychology is thoroughly considered on an introductory level. The book is designed for academic use.
Overcoming ADHD Without Medication: A Parent and Educator's Guidebook,
by the AYCNP
How parents and educators can help children to overcome ADHD, childhood depression (and bipolar disorder), naturally. Lifestyle changes, including attention to listening to and playing positive, calming music, rather than intense music, can help improve symptoms for some children and teens.
This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession
, by Daniel J. Levitin
Like most of us, you do have a song that you like, even love, more than others. You may choose a song that you can relate to, something that reverberates inside you and inexplicably captures your being. But the question just won't go away: How, exactly, can music have that effect on practically everyone's soul?
Daniel J. Levitin peeks into each human entity as he examines why music is not merely "dessert for the ears". For Levitin, science and music is as inseparable as bread and butter, and not merely an evolutionary fortuity.
Women Composers of Classical Music: 369 Biographies Through the Mid-20th Century
Mary F. Mcvicker
Women Composers of Classical Music provides biographies and a description of the individual bodies of work from female composers who lived from the 1500s through the 20th century.
101 Rhythm Instrument Activities: for Young Children ,
Abigail Flesch Connors, Deborah Wright
101 Rhythm Instrument Activities for Young Children is definitely what children need if you would like to acquaint them with with rhythm instruments early in life. And it is not that they need that much more acclimatizing. As soon as they were born, babies seem to find their own rhythm, bang their own instruments to their little heart's content. They shake the sand blocks, crash the sticks and jiggle the bells, and that is even before they learn how to walk or say their first-ever word! How so? Is it because we people are downright born to rock?
It is not outside of the realm of impossibility and 101 Rhythm Instrument Activities by Abigail Flesch Connors will help every parent, pre-school teacher, and music teacher to discover the lingering Mozart in every child.
Music Sociology: Examining the Role of Music in Social Life Paperback
by Sara Towe Horsfall, Jan-Martijn Meij, Meghan D. Probstfield
From jazz and folk to hip hop, heavy metal, and straight edge, popular music is not only a cultural artifact but an ever-expanding part of our social lives.
The sixteen different genres explored in Music Sociology demonstrate that music everywhere reflects social values, organizational processes, meanings, and individual identity. Presenting original ethnographic research, the contributors use descriptions of subcultures to explain the concepts of music sociology, including the rituals that link people to music and to the past and each other.
How Music Works: The Science and Psychology of Beautiful Sounds, from Beethoven to the Beatles and Beyond
John Powell is a British scholar and professor who explains how we experience music. He selects examples from all manner of disciplines--music composition, simple mathematics, physics, engineering, history--and offers his insights, such as how Bach' s Prelude in C Major is similar to Led Zeppelin' s Stairway to Heaven.
Music, Thought, and Feeling: Understanding the Psychology of Music,
by William Forde Thompson
This book considers: How humans perceive music, links between music and emotion, modern neuroimaging techniques and what they tell us about music's effect on the brain, psychological processes involved in imagining, composing, and performing music, potential cognitive benefits of musical engagement.
The Haight: Love, Rock, and Revolution
, by Joel Selvin, Jim Marshall
Covering one of the most unforgettable moments in modern history—and including images of Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsburg, and more—The Haight is an indispensable gallery of legendary photographer Jim Marshall’s Sixties-era San Francisco photography.
The counter-culture movement of the 1960s is one of the most endlessly examined moments of the twentieth century. Widely regarded as the cradle of revolution, San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury grew from a small neighborhood to a worldwide phenomenon—a concept that extends far beyond the boundaries of the intersection itself.
The Emergence of Rock and Roll: Music and the Rise of American Youth Culture
(Critical Moments in American History),
by Mitchell K. Hall
Is music simply a pastime for the youth or something more? Author Mitchell K. Hall sifts through reliable accounts and documents, taking an in-depth look at how rock-and-roll music influenced the global music scene and thereby re-shaped the worldwide cultural landscape. Needless to say, as rock-and-roll music reached universal notoriety, it also opens up the door of controversy and contention in just about every place it settles.
Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America
(Music Culture), by Tricia Rose
Rap music has been a prominent feature of the American pop culture scene for since the late 1970s. However, its combination of compressed rhythm and explicit lyrics rub many people, especially the older generation, the wrong way. Is rap music really just that—the angry, provocative music that exudes hate?
Author Tricia Rose brings you through a tour of the musical history of rap music and the many issues that surround it. The book also contains highly-fascinating views on the politics behind rap music, the sexual and anti-government innuendos that often accompany the beats, and a fair examination of the work of the genre's best-known artists.
, by Peter Ames Carlin
Yes, Springsteen is THAT big. From his working class roots in Long Branch, New Jersey, to the immense world-following, Springsteen's ambitious journey, took him to the heights of stardom, as well as the depths of depression. Plagued with suicidal thoughts after he reached his climactic stardom, there is more to Springsteen's angst than meets the eye.
The book, simply entitled Bruce
, by Peter Ames Carlin presents a well-researched and stunningly intimate depiction of rock-and-roll's blue-collar hero. The highly-touted music writer masterfully assimilates the magnitude of Springsteen's musical achievements and delves into the mind of a man who transcends musical generations. At the end of the last sentence, you will know the real Bruce Springsteen and the story behind the music.
David Bowie: Starman
, by Paul Trynka
As big as Lady Gaga has become in today's pop music scene, that chameleon-like style of reinventing oneself time and again has been done before by no less than The Alladin Sane Starman, David Bowie. A testament to Bowie's appeal and shape-shifting abilities, he has sold over 136 million albums/CDs worldwide and made recordings with the likes of John Lennon, Freddy Mercury and many others.
An androgynous cocaine abuser who was the first rock star to openly declare his homosexuality, more probably bisexuality, with a family history of schizophrenia, Bowie rode the wave of obscurity to stardom, reinventing his alter ego as Ziggy Stardust, only to shed his Stardust skin and reinvent himself again.
The book by author Paul Trynka attempts to make sense out of the qurkiness of Bowie's glam rock style through the eyes those close to him—from his lovers to classmates and managers. Bowie's influence on Hollywood and show business in general is also developed. This piece a must-read not only for David Bowie fans but also for everyone who wants to make sense one of rock music's most colorful and decadent sideshows.
She's a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock and Roll
, by Gillian G. Gaar, Yoko Ono (Preface)
She's a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock and Roll, takes a spirited look at the ladies who shaped rock music, as well as the women on the fringes of rock and women's modern musical stardom. Gaar catalogs and offers insight into the people and music, leading from R & B's well-know singers of the '50s, to the girl and Motown groups, folksingers, and female rockers of the '60s, to the punk rock rebels and pop-divas of the 1970s.
Rappers, rioters and all-around rock bad-girls, lead us to the sexually unabashed superstars of the past decade. With the exception of some caveats in the form of obvious omissions, She's a Rebel
that will turn you on or off to these rebel female rockers.
How Music Works, by David Byrne
How Music Works is David Byrne's buoyant celebration of a subject he has spent a lifetime thinking about. Drawing on his work over the years with Talking Heads, Brian Eno, and myriad collaborators—along with journeys to Wagnerian opera houses, African villages, and anywhere music exists—Byrne shows how music emerges from cultural circumstance as much as individual creativity. It is his magnum opus, and an impassioned argument about music's liberating, life-affirming power.
Glam Rock: Dandies in the Underworld
by Alwyn W. Turner
Glam rock emerged in the 1970s as a significant sub-genre of rock music, with artists such as David Bowie, Roxy Music, T. Rex, and Mott the Hoople, along with American artists such as Lou Reed and Alice Cooper adding to the list. Androgynous, heavy on fashion and makeup, openly gay in its approach, glam rock is explored and revealed in Glam Rock: Dandies in the Underworld
, for an insightful journey behind the scenes.
Jazz: A History of America's Music
by Geoffrey C. Ward, Ken Burns
Despite its waning popularity with the current hip-hop-heavy generation, jazz has forever etched its mark as America's most significant contribution to music. The acclaimed duo of Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns perceptibly relates the history of jazz and the musicians that made it what is—-a celebration of a country's unique mixed roots.
Included are stories about the most outstanding musicians jazz has to offer, from Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, and Buddy Bolden.
However, jazz is more than a story, it is very much an integral part of American culture. It is this music that uplifted the spirits of Americans during the Great Depression. The consummate pace and challenging style it presents made it a perfect propaganda weapon in the Cold War. Parents of the day considered it rebellious, devious, and dangerous. Yes, the roots of jazz were booze, pills, marijuana, and heroin, with some of the greatest jazz improvisations ever performed composed while under the influence of smack.
Jazz escaped its notorious past to diversify in a myriad directions, influencing world music from Europe to Africa and South to Brasil and Latin America. You will never see jazz music the same way again after reading this book, which is not a bad thing.
The History of Jazz
, by Ted Gioia
Updated with this second edition, The History of Jazz
by music historian and jazz critic Ted Goia, still retains the easy-to-read, enjoyable vibe of the original offering with some impeccable additions. Since the first book's publication in 1997, the second edition encompasses the main jazz instrumentalists of the past decade.
It also includes an examination of how modern technology influenced the music, with an impressive detailing of "smooth jazz", and includes jazz's melding with other forms of music, blending into hip-hop, funk, R & B, and the like. Gioia will then take you for a spin on the growth of jazz music outside the United States, and the what it meant to the economies of those countries.
Early Jazz: Its Roots and Musical Development
(History of Jazz), by Gunther Schuller
Almost 30 years since its first publication, Early Jazz: Its Roots and Musical Development
remains one of the most influential books on the topic. Schuller focuses first on the early beginnings of the music in the 1900's to its full bloom in the 1930's. Of course, it won't be definitely called a book about Jazz if it doesn't contain the works of the greats; and how fitting it is to have one of the best jazz composers and critic in Schuller talk about their works.
Jazz: Its roots and Music Development is written in an insightful and easy-to-read style will make it a good introduction for any jazz student, aficionado, or for advanced level musicians and scholars.
The Gift of Music (Expanded and Revised, 3rd Edition): Great Composers and Their Influence
, by Jane Stuart Smith, Betty Carlson, Francis A. Schaeffer
Classical music is said to be one of Western culture's greatest contributions to culture, and rightfully so. The Gift of Music: Great Composers and Their Influence
was written by opera singer Jane Stuart Smith and music scholar Betty Carlson. The Gift of Music explores the lives and music of the great composers, from Vivaldi and Bach to Mozart and Beethoven. All of its 36 chapters are written in language easy to understand for the laymen and musician.
Stories of the Great Composers
(Book & CD), by June Montgomery, Maurice Hinson
Just as studying a country's history can teach us how to appreciate that nation's cultural heritage, an in-depth examination of the lives of the great composers of the past allow us to be more fully appreciate their music.
Montgomery and Hinson takes a fascinating look into the lives of 13 famous composers of the Baroque and Romantic periods, all crafted to add to the knowledge and understanding of young music students. The book also comes with a 13-track CD, featuring one recording from each composer.
Hip Hop Culture
, by Emmett G. Price III
Written by one of America's leading African-American music authorities, Hip Hop Culture
scientifically sorts through the exemplifying events, personalities, and ideologies that made Hip Hop the phenomenon that it is today. Come to think of it, Hip Hop has only been somewhat of a sub-culture that originated in the Bronx but how did it go from such a taboo subject to ruling the airwaves?
Hip Hop Culture delivers a wealth of information and insight into the movement and persons behind this massive cultural influence.
Baby's First Classics, Vol. 1
Ludwig van Beethoven, Claude Debussy, Johann Pachelbel, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky (Composer), Johann Sebastian Bach, Franz [Vienna] Schubert, Frederic Chopin, Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms
We reviewed classical music CD's for babies and found this to be the best. Beautiful, relaxing, mentally stimulating music for babies and pregnant moms.
Cameron Piano Baby Grand Piano
, Ebony Black
by Cameron & Sons
This is a used piano.
New Rawlings Baby Grand
4'8" Petite Grand Piano (Mahogany Polish)
Classical music to listen to:
Simple Pachelbel Canon
Johann Strauss - Emporer's Waltz - Youth Orchestra
Emporer's Waltz Andre Rieu - and ballet.
Air on G-String
Air on G-String - Single Acoustic Classical Guitar
Air on G-String Sheet Music
Beautiful CD Music Store for Youth, Children, Expectant Mothers
Images: "Neuron" by Renjith Krishnan, courtesy of www.free.digital.photos.net
"Listening Music At Home" by Marin courtesy of www.free.digital.phdotos.net
Goth group from Eric Alper http://www.thatericalper.com/2013/11/17/punks-grow-out-of-it-and-ravers-stop-raving-why-do-goths-just-carry-on-sociologists-can-explain/
Punk Rockers: The Guardian.
Page updated: March 23, 2017
Music Psychology and Mental Health
Music Psychology and Mental Health page edited by Henrietta Atkins, M.M. Ms. Atkins is an active professional musician and composer with a graduate degree in Composition.
Introduction: Music Psychology and the Emotional Power of Music
Musician Stevie Wonder has said that "music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand." Music is a language, with or without words, serving as a medium for people from all walks of life to express their deepest thoughts and emotions. In fact, author Leo Tolstoy has described music as "the shorthand of emotion".
Of course, the musical experience goes beyond simply listening to it; as an exercise in creativity and as a social activity, music involves considerable emotional and cognitive investment, whether it be composing music or performing it. Despite its widespread presence and importance in many cultures, music's effects on the human mind are only just beginning to be understood.
The search for answers into music’s impact on the human mind has attracted scholars and researchers from a wide array of disciplines, including computer science, musicology, anthropology, and psychology. From its effects on depression
and social attitudes, to research on its benefits in education, music psychology is an exciting exploration of the magic that is music, and its influence on the mystery that is the human mind.
With or without lyrics, music conveys a message, an emotional message that reaches down into our heart, stirring the deepest feelings and emotions.
Above: Copy of Jakobus Stainer, 18th century. Photo: Frinck
Given that there are 27 definitions of music in the dictionary, for the purposes of this site, music is defined as "a rhythmic, melodic, or harmonic grouping of sounds" composed in such a way that it forms a unified whole "so as to convey a message, to communicate, or to entertain." (OnMusic Dictionary)
Music can also be described as "vocal or instrumental sound", (or a combination of the two), which are combined so as to "produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion." (based on Oxford Dictionaries).
Applications of Music Psychology
Music psychology examines the psychological processes underlying activities such as playing, listening to, and composing music.
Research by psychologists, neuroscientists, linguists, educators, and computer scientists has confirmed the many possibilities of this relatively young scientific discipline. In fact, research now conclusively shows that music can benefit both individuals and societies in numerous ways.
Currently, music is being used therapeutically in modalities including:
Music-based therapies for autism and other pervasive development disorders.
Music- based therapies for dementia and Alzheimer's, depression and bipolar disorder, and sleep disorders and memory impairment.
Parenting and social activities that foster prosocial behavior.
Extracurricular activities such as music lessons, which foster better academic performance in students.
Activities that foster infant brain development.
Music has also been shown to influence consumer buying, and this aspect of music psychology is of much interest to marketing professionals.
Sociological Aspects of Music Psychology
Human beings are not meant to live in isolation. Our complex mammalian nature, along with a host of other emotional, physical and spiritual drives
, cause us to form groups. The smallest social unit is the family, which spawns larger groups, communities, and finally nations. Human beings crave connection with others.
Given the amazing ability of music to express the complex emotions of human beings, it is not surprising that music plays an important role in the creation and maintenance of social groups and subcultures. Throughout history, people with common goals, ideas and belief have bonded together, and the music of this subculture is an important rallying point for them, and often expresses their beliefs.
Examples are too numerous to mention, but the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s inspired many anthems of freedom that will be forever associated with it, such as "We Shall Overcome" and "Blowing in the Wind". The hippie movement of that same decade revivified interest in folk music, as young people harkened back to a more innocent time, and the intense grooves and loudness of rock 'n' roll music echoed a younger generation’s desire to be heard and seen.
Moving into the 80s, Punk rock was widely seen as a reaction to the unemployment in Margaret Thatcher’s Britain, and rebellion against her conservative policies. "London Calling" by the Clash is one example of Punk’s indictment of urban decay. Goth is another example of subculture that largely coalesces around a sub-genre of music.
Prior to the punk (rock) scene in London , The Who's Pete Townsend describes his identifying with what he refers to as two-million "mods", with similar hair styles, clothing, along with the binding hard rock music and energetic no-restraints dancing as a binding glue (Rolling Stone. 2015).
Above: The music of Woodstock (1969), was a rallying point for hippies in the 1960s.
Inset: Psychedelic rock music was an integral part of the Haight-Ashbury subculture in San Francisco (1967).
Punk rock music was both a catalyst for, and inspired the punk rock style of dress, including hairstyle. (Punk photo from The Guardian musicblog. September 1, 2008)
On gothic subculture: "Gothic... Elements of punk, glam rock and new romantic, were gradually fused into a distinctive style of music and fashion...described as 'dark'..." Hodkinson (2002).
Music's Effect on Emotions, Mood, Mood Disorders, Transmitting Ideas and Ideals
Research has shown that music has a very strong influence on moods and emotions. Music can certainly change our current emotional state, create different trains of thought, and even convey ideas to its listeners. This is true for people of all ages and walks of life.
Our moods are deeply affected by the type, intensity and amount of music we listen to. People with volatile temperaments often become calmer after listening to relaxing music. Conversely, more phlegmatic people can be energized by upbeat music. For example, pop music is used in exercise classes to maintain energy flow and interest. The motivational force of influence of music on mood cannot be overstated.
Music can also make us sad, or even depressed. Depending on the emotional state of the listener or composer, music can even be a negative influence. It is interesting to note that many famous composers showed an enormous range of emotions. The composer Ludwig Van Beethoven was known to pound the piano so passionately that he broke its strings! Genius personalities such as Beethoven often show intense emotional sensitivity, and one might speculate that this great emotional range is needed to compose great music.
The correlation between creativity and bipolar disorder
(artists, musicians, and writers being more likely to have bipolar disorder) is a further illustration of the fascinating link between music and human emotions.
We internalize what we listen to, allowing the emotions of the composer and the musicians to become our own, thus establishing a connection with the composer and performers.
Both the lyrics and the music itself are involved in this bonding process. The more we listen to a piece, the more we begin to internalize and identify with it.
As this process of listening to and identifying with the music develops, we may even develop a spiritual connection, bonding, or identity with the ideas, moods, or personas, of the music being transmitted, the social groups they represent, or the musicians and what they stand for. Music is known for bridging gaps and creating bonds between people who might otherwise have little in common. It can convey a message of peace and brotherhood.
Music has also been used as a medium for some less-than-noble purposes. For example, music has often been used to rally people during wartime. The horror of war has been rendered more palatable when led by beautiful national anthems and trumpet fanfares. In fact, "The Star Spangled Banner," the national anthem of the United States, was written by Francis Scott Key during the war of 1812. The Marsellaise, the national anthem of France, urges its citizens to arms, as do many other national anthems.
Since music touches emotions, it has the propensity to make ideas which might be otherwise discordant with one’s own value and belief system easier to digest. The horror of the Holocaust was helped along by the operas of Richard Wagner (pronounced "Vagner"), which were exploited by Adolf Hitler to inspire German nationalism and militarism. The operas were based on ancient myths that spoke of a heroic Teutonic people who were superior to other races.
Because parents are not always aware of the lyrics embedded in the music their children listen to, they should carefully monitor both the type of music as well as the lyrics of the music of their children's daily repertoire. Music lessons are a good way to expose children to instrumental music.
The Many Facets of the Psychology of Music -- Disciplines and Research
Research in music psychology is approached in a variety of angles The discipline is relatively new, and the scientific methods used are multifaceted and evolve adeptly. Currently, researchers use empirical, theoretical, and computational methods to examine:
Psychological process in listening to music
Psychological process in performing and improvising music
Composing music and its psychological roots
Topics explored include:
Human perception and cognition of music
Computer modeling of musical capacities in musicians and listeners
Music and social psychology
The link between emotion and music
Music therapy, and its impact on psychological processes
music therapy and its positive use in speech language pathology (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA))
Music therapy and its impact on addiction
A developmental approach towards music psychology
In additional, researchers examine the links between:
Music and consciousness
Music and embodiment
Music and neuroscience
Music and its influence on different pathologies
The multidisciplinary aspect of music psychology (Hodges, D. 2003): involves exploration and research in such fields as the:
Anthropology of music
Sociology of music
Biology of music
Physics of music
Philosophy of music
Listening to music
Composing or improvising music, and
Using empirical, theoretical and computational methods in interpreting as well as producing music
The Elements of Music
As previously mentioned, music is a deeply engaging emotional experience that affects a large cross-section of the population. Whether it's a massive symphony that brings one to tears, or a nostalgic song that speaks of a happy summer; whether it rocks you to sleep or inspires you to travel, music strongly influences human emotion as well as behavior.
But how does music elicit these effects and make us feel the way we do? In order to understand the psychological impact of music, we must examine the elements of music itself.
Rhythm: Rhythm is the temporal aspect of music and that organizes a piece into repeated patterns. The San Francisco Symphony states that you can find rhythm almost anywhere, in a player dribbling a basketball, a washing machine, raindrops falling, or a runner in the street. Rhythm is what makes "music move and flow".
Rhythm consists of patterns of sounds and silences, producing the beat, and a composer might use numerous rhythms in one piece.
Beat and Meter: Closely related to rhythm is beat and meter. Beats are the fundamental building blocks of rhythm, the basic pulse of music, and are grouped together in measures. When you are tap your foot when listening to music, you are responding to the steady beat.
Meter is the organization of strong and weak beat patterns that give rise to rhythm. The meter of a piece is indicated by its time signature. Most of today’s music is written in 4/4 meter (or 4/4 time); the top (numerator) 4 refers to the number of beats in the measure, the bottom (denominator) 4 refers to the note (1/4 or quarter note) that gets one beat. As another example, a waltz is written in 3/4 time, with 3 beats to a measure rather than 4. Some meters are more complex, and the meter can change throughout a single piece in more-complex musical arrangements.
Pitch: Pitch is the property that organizes sounds along a frequency-based scale; it is the quality that determines if a note sounds high or low. The frequency of sound wave vibrations determines each pitch. The accepted standard for tuning the majority of musical instruments is that the note A4 (the A above middle C), which equals a pitch value of 440Hz, or 440 cycles per second.
Melody: Melody can be described as a sequence of notes that is musically satisfying; thus the definition of melody is quite subjective, depending on the listener. Composer Leonard Bernstein describes melody as "a series of notes that move along in time, one after another."
Harmony: Harmony is the combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce chords and chord progressions that have a pleasing effect. As with melody, harmony is ever evolving, and composers constantly create new types of harmony.
Developments in compositional harmony throughout history gave rise to the baroque, classic and romantic movements in music. In the article, "Why Harmony Pleases the Brain", the author states that harmonic notes can be played at the same time as the melody, as well as behind, beneath, or around it, supporting the melody and providing "texture and mood".
Circle of Fifths: In music theory, the circle of fifths is a handy concept that orders 12 tones of the chromatic scale by fifths. For example, the key of G, which is a fifth above C major, has one sharp. The key of D, which is a fifth above G, has two sharps. The key of A, which is a fifth above D, has three sharps. Learning about the circle of fifths facilitates better musicianship with applications to composing and modulating between keys. In many compositions, chord progressions move by fifths, because of the special acoustic relationships between the dominant chord and the tonic chord which are a fifth apart.
Scale: An ordered collection of pitches is called a scale. Much of Western music is based on the major scale, which is a group of eight pitches. In a major scale, each pitch is a whole step apart , except between scale degrees 3 and 4 and 7 and 8, when each pitch is a half step apart. Other scales in Western music, such as minor or pentatonic scales, are different arrangements of half and whole steps. Some cultures base their musical scales on pitches a quarter tone apart; Indian "ragas" are examples of these types of scales.
Texture: Texture in music refers to how the melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic materials are combined in a composition, determining the overall quality of the sound in a piece.
Timbre: The quality or "color" of a musical sound, disregarding pitch, describes its timbre. For example, in an orchestra there are many timbres of sounds because each instrument produces a different color and type of sound. Professor David Meckler refers describes different musical timbres as "bright, dark, brassy, reedy, harsh, noisy, thin, buzzy, pure, raspy, shrill, mellow, strained". Even the same instrument played by different musicians can produce a different timbre.
Key: In music theory, the key of a piece is based on its tonic, or primary, note and chord. For example, a piece based around the note C is in the key of C major. The piece usually begins and ends with its tonic note and chord, which gives a subjective sense of arrival and rest.
Other notes in the piece contrast with the tonic note, which builds various levels of tension and dissonance through the piece, until the piece ends on its tonic note, which creates a subject sense of arrival and rest. There are both major ("happy") and minor ("sad") keys in music.
Consonance and Dissonance: Consonant intervals (such as thirds and sixths) tend to create sense of coherence, pleasantness, or rest in music. Dissonant intervals (such as tritones, sevenths and seconds) create tension, and ask to be resolved back to consonant intervals. Once again, the experience of consonance and dissonance in music is subjective. For example, what would be considered dissonant in classical music from the 18th century, may be considered to be consonant in the context of modern jazz.
The Benefits of Music and Music Education for Teens and Children
As such, music is used by educators today in a number of ways to enhance the learning environment of the classroom. This can be especially pertinent in view of the fact that music reaches emotions of the listener.
Many teachers use soft calming music is to help preschool and kindergarten children to relax at nap time and other times of the day. Some high schools pipe soothing classical music through their sound system to create a calm atmosphere in the hallways. One high school English teacher in an urban Newark, New Jersey high school plays soft music in the background while her students quietly work, a sharp contrast to the pervasive rap and hip-hop that dominates the urban music scene.
Actually studying a musical instrument has been shown to have a very positive influence on a child's cognitive abilities. Cognitive faculties such as the ability to memorize are enhanced by learning how to play an instrument. It is now generally accepted that learning an instrument broadens one’s ability to understand math and science, which is demonstrated by the fact that many mathematicians and scientists studied music when they were children, and still enjoy it as a hobby. Language, math, and music are processed in the same area of the brain.
Active participation in playing music and music appreciation has been shown to increase self-esteem. For example, one teenager with ADHD said that she had difficulty connecting with other teenagers in school. Learning to play piano during her teenage years filled many vacant hours, staved off boredom, and also contributed to her self-confidence, which sometimes can be damaged when a teenager is diagnosed with a learning disability or mental disorder such ADHD.
Some benefits of positive music for children and teens may include:
Higher Test Scores and Cognitive Devevelopment; Higher SAT scores
Music teachers can be positive role models
Learning to play a music instrument helps teens to develop self esteem
Teachers, parents and mentors can help children and teenagers to benefit by from exposure to a wide variety of music. The tendency, of course, is for teens to gravitate towards what is currently popular on the radio.
By learning to enjoy a diversity of musical genres, a child or teenager can get a better perspective on cultural history, and where the music of today fits into the broader historical picture of music throughout the centuries, and find enjoyment in a diversified offering of music and cultures.
Read more on music in schools, teens and children
Music and the Elderly
Recent research has indicated that listening to music helps older people to express their emotions. Cognitive abilities that tend to decline as we age can also be enhanced by music. One study showed that older people in nursing homes increased their quality of life when given iPods that were filled with their favorite music. Some even found their memories and physical abilities improved.
The study of brain chemistry and how our emotions are chemically created is of great interest to the field of music psychology. It may well be that the production of chemicals such as dopamine (one chemical in our brains synapses that provides a sense of well-being and that is released during periods or in response to excitement) can be electro-chemically induced by listening to music.
Misogyny, Commercialization of Sex in Popular Music and Music Videos -
Its Effect on Teenagers and Children
The Birth of Rock and Roll
Rock 'n Roll music evolved from jazz, the blues, boogie woogie, and folk music of the 1940s and 1950s, as well as from prior decades. 1953 marked the birth of rock music, with Bo Diddley's new beat featured in the song Who Do You Love. Drug culture and teen rebellion soon became an integral part of this new form of music.
results in many positive benefits for adults and youth, not the least of which is a positive lyrical/musical outlet for emotions. Writing poetry can be cathartic. Reading poetry can be soothing and healing. "Poetry jams" in urban high schools give youth an opportunity to creatively express themselves, and to give them a "voice" to be heard--writing poetry is an active rather than passive activity.
Angus Young of hard rock band AC/DC. June 2001, Cologne, Germany
The intensity of music can have an affect on the mind and emotions.
Is listening to pop music linked with major depression in teens?
- See: Teen Depression
- Association Between Media Use in Adolescence and Major Depression
, Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), in Young Adulthood
Listening to music excessively is correlational with teen depression, according to one study. While there may not be a direct causes and effect relationship, parents are cautioned to keep tabs on their children and teens’ music habits. Media overstimulation in general may play a role in mood or the mental development of teens and children. Music is one aspect related the overstimulation of the mind through media, or social isolation that may result from listening to music excessively.
Different individuals are predisposed to a different level of focus, sensitivity, and tolerances for the amount and type of music their brain can process or handle without interfering with normal functioning. Since many of today's youth often spend hours daily listening to music from a variety of sources, in addition to input from other media sources, it helps us shed light on the impact that music might have in terms of the mental health of children and on adolescent mood disorders, as this study suggests.
Joel Robertson, Ph.D., documents the impact both in a positive and detrimental way that music can have on mental health in areas such as depression
, in his book Natural Prozac. Controlling the content and amount of music that we choose to listen to are positive ways to self-regulate, in the context of Robertson's work, to minimize propensity towards depression and maximize a sense of well-being.
Hearing, the Mechanics of the Ear, and Neurophysiology
A brain cell transmits an electrical current through the axon to the dendrite, skips the synapse gap chemically by means of neurotransmitters to the next brain cell, and repeats the process millions of times when processing an idea or thought.
Above: Brain neurons (nerve cells). Below: Synapse between two neurons.
Neurons fire electrically and cross the synapse gap chemically.
Whether music is performed with electric or acoustic instruments, when it reaches the ear, it is transformed through the components of the eardrum through the hearing nerve into electrical signals, and then electro-chemical signals, when it passes into the brain, and processed by the auditory cortex in the temporal lobe (Purves, Augustine, Fitzpatrick). Emotion is also processed, in part, by means of the amygdala, a small almond-shaped part of the brain within the temporal lobe.
The ear processes sound, first mechanically in the ear itself, and then transmits those message electrically through the nervous system to the temporal lobe.
Thoughts and subsequently moods journey through a path of brain neurons (nerve cells) both chemically in the synapses, and electrically in the neurons.Thoughts, including music, that we hear over and over creates pathways through our brain’s neurons and become part of our permanent memory.
The path taken by thoughts in the brain are in the form of electrical impulses through the brain's neurons, and are transformed into chemical impulses across the gaps of the synapses. This path continues through millions and millions of neurons, in forming thoughts and memories, both musical or otherwise, which become imbedded in our mind, especially through repetition.
Research from Georgetown University reveals that the brain system processes both language and music in the same two areas. Language and music are processed in the auditory cortex of the temporal lobes, located beneath the frontal lobe and above the brain stem and cerebellum.
Both meanings of words and phrases in language are processed in the temporal lobes, as well as that of familiar musical melodies. Within the frontal lobes, the rules of both language, such as syntax of sentences, and the rules of the elements of music, such as harmony, are processed and memorized. The Georgetown study is published in the journal NeuroImage.
That today's music largely begins with electrical instruments, or is in some way communicated electrically before it reaches our ears, that what is heard through the ears is transformed into electrical impulses in the nerve cells, and that when the electrically translated sounds pulsate through the brain's neurons electrically, is an intriguing thought.
The largest part of the music-mechanical-mental journey is an electrical one, with neurotransmitters between the synapses as mere deliverers of these electrical messages. Perhaps in future research, more emphasis will be placed on restoring the electrical balance of the mind rather than the chemical balance when considering matters related to mental health.
A tremendous amount of research money and effort goes into developing medicines that affects brain chemistry, or for justifying the use of existing medicines for mental health disorders other than which they were originally developed for.
What if we invested as much time and effort into researching the positive effects of therapies such use how music, and along with it art, can be used as therapeutic tools to positively affect the electrical thought process of the brain. Could positive therapies such as music and art be a step towards relief from some of the symptoms of anxiety, depression
, bipolar disorder
, and contribute a better night’s sleep
Music therapy is used therapeutically in a number of settings, and is an evidence-based clinical practice.
Although music can be used as a self-help tool, the term music therapy is used specifically in a clinical setting. Music therapists in the United States hold a MT-BC credential, which is issued by the Certification Board for Music Therapists. It is a specific medical discipline that helps patients or clients achieve specific goals within a therapeutic context.
One use of music therapy is in coping with anxieties, depression, or other mental health issues or emotional needs. Catherine Ulbricht, co-founder of the National Standard Research Collaboration group, states that "classical music has been found to cause comfort and relaxation while rock music may lead to discomfort."
Ulbricht, who is a pharmacist, encourages the "least invasive route to feeling your best as possible." She recommends using "stress-preventing measure[s], pursuing positive dietary changes, an exercise program", or therapies such as "music therapy", rather than running to the doctor for a "magic, feel-good pill."
The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) outlines numerous avenues for the use of music therapy including:
music therapy in physical rehabilitation
to facilitate physical movement
to increase people's motivation to better engage with other forms of treatment
music as emotional support for both clients and their families
music to facilitate emotional expression
Conclusion of Music Psychology
Music transmits ideas and emotions from individual to individual as well as to masses of people through mass media. Music is a product of culture, but also influences culture with a tremendous potential to influence millions of minds on many levels, including mentally, emotionally, and even chemically. Music can be used positively both on a personal level, in education and in professional music therapy.
Along with that, educators, professionals, and parents, need to be aware of the need to guide and educate children and youth in wise choices in listening to music, a powerful influence on emotion and behavior.
References for Music Psychology page:
1. Bernstein, L. (2009). Young People's Concert: What Is Melody? The Leonard Bernstein Office, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.leonardbernstein.com/ypc_script_what_is_melody.htm
2. Catterall, James S., Richard Chapleau, and John Iwanaga. "Involvement in the Arts and Human Development: General Involvement and Intensive Involvement in Music and Theater Arts." Los Angeles, CA: The Imagination Project at UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, 1999. NELS:88, National Education Longitudinal Survey)
3. Connors, Abigail, (August 2009). Listen! music matters - Seven surprising benefits of music education. NJ Family.
4. Could Pop Music Be Linked to Depression? Preliminary study found those who listened to lots of tunes had raised risk - April 4, 2011 - U.S. News & World Report
5. Davidson, R. (2000). Panel: The Affect of Emotions: Laying the Groundwork in Childhood--"Understanding Positive and Negative Emotion". Library of Congress. http://www.loc.gov/loc/brain/emotion/Davidson.html
6. Definition of Music. Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved March 27, 2015 from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/music
7. Grossman, L. (2011, September). Why Harmony Pleases the Brain. New Scientist.
8. Hamman, D. L., Walker, L., (1993). Music Teachers as Role Models for African American Students.Journal of Research in Music Education, Vol. 41, No. 4, 303-314, (1993). DOI: 10.2307/3345506.
9. Hodges, D. (2003) Music education and music psychology: What‟s the connection? Research Studies in Music Education. 21, 31-44.
10. Intro to Beats: What are Beats, Meter, and Rhythm? EarSketch
. Retrieved March 28, 2015 from http://earsketch.gatech.edu/learning/intro-to-beats/what-is-a-beat-meter-rhythm
11. Meckler, D. Elements of Music. San Mateo Community College
. Retrieved March 27, 2015
12. Musical Keys and the Circle of Fifths. Music for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Retrieved March 27, 2015 from
13. Music Definition. Dictionary On Music. Retrieved March 27, 2015 from http://dictionary.onmusic.org/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&term_search%5Bquery%5D=music&commit=Search
14. Music Education Online. Children's Music Workshop. (Retrieved August 4, 2009). http://www.schoolmusictoday.com/advocacy/benefits.html
15. Music: Pathology. (1938, May 2). Time Magazine.
16. Nypaver, A. What Is Pitch in Music? - Definition, Lesson & Quiz. . Retrieved March 28, 2015 from http://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-pitch-in-music-definition-lesson-quiz.html
Purves D, Augustine GJ, Fitzpatrick D, et al. (2001). The Auditory Cortex. Neuroscience. 2nd edition. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK10900/
17. Ratliff, B., (June 3, 2008). Bo Diddley, Who Gave Rock and Roll His Beat, Dies at 79. New York Times.
18. Robertson, J., (1998). Natural Prozac. San Francisco: Harper SanFrancisco.
19. Rolling Stone Magazine THE WHO Ultimate Guide Music Legend 2015 Special Edition. (2015). Rolling Stone.
20. Rhythm. SFS Kids.org. San Francisco Symphony. Retrieved March 28, 2015 from
21. Speech-Language Therapy and Music Therapy Collaboration: The Dos, the Don’ts, and the “Why Nots?” (2011, October 4). Music therapy and Speech-Language Pathology. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). ASHA sphere.
Tunes and Talk: Researchers Find Music and Language are Processed by the Same Brain Systems. (2007, September 27). Explore Georgetown Education. http://explore.georgetown.edu/news/?ID=27776
22. Ulbricht, C. (2013, June 21). Music Therapy for Health and Wellness. Psychology Today blog. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/natural-standard/201306/music-therapy-health-and-wellness
23. Woody, R.H., (2013, May 3). How Practicing Less Can Foster Musical Growth. Psychology Today.
Off-site Links Related to Music Psychology
Discovery Channel documentary video
Responsible Hip-Hop - Why one rapper rejects hate messages of L'il Wayne and gangsta rap. Article/Interview with rapper DEE1 - DR BOYCE WATKINS: WHY THIS RAPPER TURNED DOWN A DEAL FROM LIL WAYNE’S LABEL
The fetus responds to music in the womb. The fetus reacts to music. (It does not seem to enjoy hip-hop).
Pages Related to Music Psychology
Music and Bipolar Disorder
Music History - The History and Psychology of Rock and Roll - and Jazz
Teen Depression and Music - Pop music and teen depression link - Based on clinical study
The Psychology of Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana and pop-music for girls
Misogyny in Commercial/Pop and Rap Music