Do you sometimes feel a very strong inspiring flow inwards, abnormal powers and energy? Almost like an ignition of  motor. Bursting feeling to change the situation, desire to step further, realisation that the possibilities are open and you have to accomplish so many things yet? It comes in different sizes and shapes, depending on the situation, but one thing is common –  desire to function and act on something in full extent or even above 100%. Lets describe one of the most often sources of inspiration – music.

Symptoms of music uplift are individual. Regardless of the variety of symptoms, how and why is this possible? More interestingly, why is it not always possible to repeat the feeling? It would be great to come to the same music track and get what desired – unfortunately, it might not be as strong anymore or have no effect at all.

French chemist and inventor of the pasteurisation process Louis Pasteur said “the fortune favours the prepared mind“. This could offer one possible explanation, why music influences us only at a specific time. The luck (more in another post) by definition is an accident, but (1) if you are working or thinking intensively on a certain field, chances for luck increases, (2) even if the luck comes, only the prepared mind can notice it and utilize the benefits.

Thus, is it really specific music brings this effect or are you just in need to experience the internal inspiration and (1) different music might fulfil the role or (2) silence can do the same and (3) different art / relaxation forms do equally well? Naturally one song is better than other and some music fits to one moment and other fits better to different moment. Music has an amazing attribute to synchronise with mental level and boost the mood, but for sure, silence could inspire as well. Once we keep being longer without music and only in silence, our body adjusts and gets excited to various other signals, even thoughts.

To get a little further on this topic, I will share my personal experience. I love music, but at some point, when writing master thesis, I completely abandoned music for almost 2 years and even little sound was affecting negatively. The worst thing was that my girlfriend insisted music must always be on and if I want silence, I have to put the headphones or leave the room. From when did the music get such an importance? From when did the silence got kicked out as natural state of being? We had a very strange debate, where I argumented that silence is fundamental and the music is an extra layer, which we can customize by wearing headphones (also because there are so many music styles) and not the opposite.

This debate returned in my mind many times. I started to think that music could be addictive. Just from personal experience, I could much better focus on study and writing in silence. Music could serve as an inspiration, but it could inspire for things that are off our wishes. Also, there are so many other ways of relaxation and artistic forms to get inspired. It leads to conclusion – lets not focus too much on one form.

In one of most inspiring TED talks, conductor Benjamin Zander shows how and why classical music inspires us. He depicts well how music can inspire and be important emotional element in lives. I agree with him in many ways, but would like to add (1) there is a difference between active engagement (for instance learning music) and only listening, (2) conductor is positive, but still biased with classical genre, while there are many other forms that could inspire similarly positive.

Finally, listening to favourite music might result in a release of dopamine, that is also responsible for pleasure reactions caused by food, drugs or making love. “Dopamine is important because it makes us want to repeat behaviors. It’s the reason why addictions exist, whether positive or negative. In this case, the euphoric ‘highs’ from music are neurochemically reinforced by our brain so we keep coming back to them. Dopamine is not really a ‘feel good’ chemical. Instead, it’s the ‘please do this again’ chemical. So that’s why it’s involved in addiction. Our brain is telling us to keep doing this again, and we do, which is why music has been around forever” scientists says.

There is no clear conclusion of this discussion. It is an open inquiry into how music influences us. For one, we need inspiration and music is one of the best sources. For second, we can get this inspiration from silence, natural sounds and other forms, especially arts. Third, music is addictive and like with many addictions – it is not good to depend on something too much. Some addictions, such as alcoholism are negative. Fourth, there is a difference in passive and active listening – are we listening to music at home, live or play ourselves?

This writing is influenced (and written while listening) by music. I love music and wanted to understand the structure of this influence. Music usually just automatically switches to go mode, but this time wanted to uncover what is behind the drive.