A Tune Only You Can Hear


Mimi Gaudiano & Connor McKee-Sargent

ROLE OF MUSIC: As the number of music listeners in the world continues to grow, music plays a bigger and bigger role in our lives. Junior Anthony Luu says, “I think it’s decently important and something I enjoy. It’s time to kill, you can listen to it during homework, [and] it helps life go faster.”

Adya Mohapatra, Copy Editor

In today’s day and age, the vast majority of the world listens to music on a regular basis. Due to widespread media, new music is shared and appreciated on a much wider scale than it ever has been in the past. There is a large variety of genres for people to listen to, allowing for more exposure for not only those in the music industry, but listeners themselves. Since music is so common in our everyday lives, one tends to wonder how much impact it has on our lives. As it turns out, who we are as people, how we perceive ourselves, and the environment we grow up in plays an enormous role in what type of music we listen to.

We listen to music for three reasons, as stated by Psychology Today. First of all, music often improves the manner in which we complete tasks. Listening to a tune while we work helps us fight off boredom and keeps our attention levels high. Music also stimulates our curiosity because it gives us something to analyze, such as lyrics and the general message behind the song. And last but not least, music lets us manipulate our emotional state. As Junior Caitlin McCoy says, “It can definitely increase happiness. You can relate and connect with the lyrics or song.” Certain music makes us feel a certain way, so when we listen to it, we instantly feel happier or however we wish to feel. That answers why we listen to music; but generally, what is the music we like determined by?

CNN suggests that music taste might have more to do with the culture you grow up than how your brain functions, which is what most people think determines what you listen to. For example, sophomore Angelina Chin says “Everyone’s ears are wired differently.” However, senior Lauren Reising says, “I think [music taste] depends on the environment you grow up in; what your parents, family, and peers listen to.” Your family, your friends, and even the location where you grow up provide you with your music likes and dislikes. The songs the people you are surrounded by listen to are often your only source of music until you reach a certain age. And every culture has been observed to use certain notes and rhythms in their music, which also influences what sort of music you are accustomed to.

But the main question most people tend to ask is how personality is involved in music taste. A lot more research has to be done to find completely definitive answers, but for now, many sources say that the music you listen to is heavily correlated with your personality. As Very Well Mind explains, a study at Heriot-Watt University concluded certain statements about one’s music taste versus one’s personality. According to them, if you like pop music, you are “outgoing, honest, and conventional.” You also work hard and have a high self-esteem, but may not be that laid back or creative. For those who listen to rap and hip hop, you tend to have a high self-esteem and are extroverted. People who like country were said to be conventional yet outgoing. They were also likely to be hard workers and be emotionally stable. If you listen to rock and heavy metal, you may be a gentle introvert. You may also have a low self-esteem, but despite that, you are very creative. Fans of indie music were found to be creative, intelligent and introverted, but were often passive. If you gravitate towards fast-paced rhythms, or ‘dance music,” you are likely to be outgoing and assertive. If you like classical music, you are typically introverted, but at peace with yourself and everyone and everything around you. You also may be creative and have a good self-esteem. As for jazz, blue, and soul music listeners, you tend to have a high self-esteem and are outgoing, creative, intelligent and relaxed.

So if personality really does affect the types of music we listen to, then are we subconsciously drawn to songs that we feel represents us? That appears to be the case as Very Well Mind also says no one is sure how music is tied with identity, but people define themselves through their music. That is why people get defensive over their music taste. And some songs appeal to us solely because of the memories we associate with them. Elite Daily states that you do not have control over the emotional connection you have with certain songs; particular images or experiences may pop up when we listen to specific songs. On top of that, how you are feeling when you listen to a song can determine what you think of it, which in turn affects the connection you make with that song.

Is listening to music so much a good thing though? Most people say it is, such as freshman Alina Loewenherz, who says, “It helps people calm down or focus.” A lot of students like to listen to music for that reason while they work on homework, and according to Study, listening to music while studying can help with memorization, prevent stress while studying, and allow for endurance. It can also improve one’s mood and give one motivation. But listening to music while doing writing or reading tasks can make one absorb less information and work inefficiently as it acts as a distraction. And even for those whose memory is benefited from music, they might have to listen to that music again to remember the information they studied, and they would be unable to do that during a test. Additionally, the silent environment may make them uncomfortable and make it harder for them to focus. So, music, like all things, has its pros and cons, and those positive and negative attributes change apply differently to every individual.

Overall, a lot of research is yet to be done about music, but it can be said that it reveals aspects of us that we may not have realized were there. It also allows for us to form a connection with the world around us, whether it be through our memories, our friends and family, or even our own emotions. But trying to form general conclusions about people from the music they listen to is impossible due how different each person is. Every individual walks to their own tune, stepping along with a rhythm only they can hear.