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The power of music

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Posted: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 1:47 pm

Music is powerful. It sounds obvious, but once taking a deeper look into the affect it has on our lives is interesting.

I was struggling to think about what to write for this opinion piece. I was listening to Spotify, and I noticed that my shuffled playlist was playing songs that brought back a lot of nostalgia – both good and not-so-great memories. I’d find myself jamming out to a Nirvana song one moment and then moping over a Coldplay song. I was curious as to why and how this happens, and so I decided to take a deeper look.

I found an article from titled “Are your Emotions Linked with the Music You Listen To?” that breaks down parts of the brain and how it reacts to music. I would recommend giving it a read, but from this article and other studies, it is clear that music brings out emotions.

Music affects us in different ways. One common use for it is to cause excitement and energy. For example, our sports writer, Ryan McFadden, wrote an article for our Feb. 22 issue about what songs Iona’s men’s basketball team players listen to before games. You can find it on our website, but it proves a point – music can be used to pump up one’s energy.

It can also be used as a coping mechanism. Personally, I have a playlist dedicated to sad songs that will probably make me cry. I know that this sounds really weird, but it helps when I’m feeling sad. Listening to songs or artists that I feel connects with my mood really helps calm me down.

Anger also plays a role in the way we listen to music. I’m sure we’ve all had a bad day and have either been mad or upset about the way something turned out. Listening to a heavier song can help us release negative energy in a positive, harmless way.

Speaking of emotions -- I’ve had friends who say that music “saved their lives,” which I think is beautiful. We might not all relate to this, but I think it’s really interesting – you never know what someone could be going through, and if music helps them keep pushing on through tough times… that’s an amazing thing.

I also think that music is interesting because everyone has different interests. Again, this sounds obvious, but try talking to your friends or family about what kinds of music they like. What artists make them think of happiness, or sad times?

I can guarantee you that your likes aren’t exactly the same as theirs. You might learn that your best friend credits Luke Bryan to her happiness, or that your dad is really liking that new Justin Timberlake song. Regardless of what you find, it will prove how much of an impact music has.

Overall, it’s clear that music and emotions are connected. Try taking a step back and evaluating how music makes you feel.

To contact The Ionian’s Anna Maffucci, email her at

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