Music and its Effects on the Mind

Music has  been with humans all through the ages. It was performed and observed  during religious rites during the Egyptian times and it was also to spur merriment and enjoyment for festivities and celebrations.

How in the world does, the silence between notes, have so much impact on all our lives?

Now, we can all be sure with ourselves of all the many good benefits of music, but what, what the hell is ‘the devil in music’?

‘The Devil in Music’ or diabolus in musica,  is recognized in music theory as one of the most dissonant intervals, also known as tritones.

The Scientific American recently delved into this further to further solidify the argument that, yes, music do alter our minds. But how?

Jochim Hansen and Johann Melzner in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology argues that  hearing such isolated musical components can change the way one thinks. 

In their experiment, it was founded out that subjects exposed to tritone chords and fifth chords do think differently and their handed task – making  shopping list  and making decisions what to buy on

It was concluded that, listening to these two differing sounds produce different results.

The author at SA, further introduces us to a very interesting scientific theory known as  construal level theory, and its core premise is that there’s a link between how far things are from people and how abstractly they construe them. A theory is surmise, explains why humans are prone to do last minutes frenzied behaviors after realising that their so  called deadline  has approached and they haven’t done much  of an anything yet! Sure, we’ve all been there, I assume.

How does THAT theory connects to music, the chords and us?

It all comes to the power of music to resound mysterious moods and stir emotions. Sadness, gaiety and sudden urge to trash the guitar, are just a few of the  complex emotions that can emerge while or after listening to certain kind of music, of course, results may vary individually.

“These songwriters and producers are the true geniuses behind the success of popular music today, and they seem to have an intuitive grasp of the phenomena underlying the findings of this psychology article”

The article source is here :

If you’re interested on the study, here’s some info on how you can get hold of  it :

Volume 54, September 2014, Pages 131–138

What you hear shapes how you think: Sound patterns change level of construal

  • a Department of Psychology, University of Salzburg, Austria
  • b Department of Psychology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, Germany


Psychological distance and abstractness primes have been shown to increase one’s level of construal. We tested the idea that auditory cues which are related to distance and abstractness (vs. proximity and concreteness) trigger abstract (vs. concrete) construal. Participants listened to musical sounds that varied in reverberation, novelty of harmonic modulation, and metrical segmentation. In line with the hypothesis, distance/abstractness cues in the sounds instigated the formation of broader categories, increased the preference for global as compared to local aspects of visual patterns, and caused participants to put more weight on aggregated than on individualized product evaluations. The relative influence of distance/abstractness cues in sounds, as well as broader implications of the findings for basic research and applied settings, is discussed.


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