Music for Your Well-being

Header image music doodles

The stars should have aligned much earlier for me to produce a piece about music and wellbeing:

  • First, it’s about music and that is so high up there in my priority list
  • Second, it’s about neuroscience, and if you’ve read anything on this site, you’ll know my ongoing obsession with what we are learning from neuroscientists.

Somehow I got lost trying to juggle too many things:

  1. A review of my favorite music from the last year – it had become an annual tradition to share this list with a circle of music loving friends.
  2. The cool article I read about reducing anxiety by listening to certain songs: – .w4jlif2k2

3.   My own search for songs that could bring down stress

4.   A quick read through Daniel Levitin’s ‘This is Your Brain on Music’.

5.   And, a desire to somehow bring all these things together in one short(ish) unbelievable blog.

So, you may guess what happened, trying to reflect on more than 4 things is very difficult for our rational brain, and this was proof of how hard it is to overcome that limitation.  Once I applied this insight, I recognized that a more limited focus would help me produce something.  So, there are basically 3 pieces to this blog now – and the search for the killer conclusion will have to wait.  Here they are:

  1. Music to reduce stress
  2. Insights from Daniel Levitin on what music does to our brains
  3. A list of songs from my Best of 2016 playlist – ENJOY!

Reducing Stress

The article above shares research that certain songs can reduce your anxiety by up to 65%.  Here are some selections from my ‘Mindfulness 2017’ playlist intended to lower stress (I have included some songs from the article):

  • Air – Alone in Kyoto
  • Duettino “Canzonetta sull’aria (Nozze De Figaro – Mozart)
  • Weightless – Marconi Union
  • Cranes in the Sky – Solange
  • Someone Like You – Adele
  • Strawberry Swing – Coldplay
  • Simple Things – Zero 7
  • Bossa Per Due – Nicola Conte
  • Harry Patch (in Memory Of) – Radiohead
  • Beach House – Wishes

Highlights from Your Brain on Music

This is a wonderful book that dives into what music does to our brain, and the vital function it plays.  I am not doing justice to the depth and range of the book, but here are some things I learned:

  • Levitin argues that music is fundamental to our species – the relationship is thousands and thousands of years old.
  • Music taps into primitive brain structures involve with motivation, reward and emotion.  It is clearly a way to improve our moods.
  • Music confuses the traditional left brain – right brain description.  It moves functions between the supposed creative and logical sides of the brain.
  • Music engages our brain in almost every area that has been identified so far.  This can be used against us by movie makers or marketeers to engage us in a way that is not possible without music.

I’d like to join the book club discussion that reads this book.

Last but not least – 2016 my favorite sounds

Another year that did not appear exceptional produced some late breaking works , really worth listening to.  Maybe the changing political landscape was a factor.  Arbitrarily, I decided to choose 1 song from my preferred artists – tell me if you want more:

  • Solange – Rise
  • Michael Kiwanuka – Love and Hate
  • Margo Price – Hands of Time
  • Dylan LeBlanc – Cautionary Tale
  • Karl Blau – Fallin’ Rain
  • Frank Ocean – Pink and White
  • ANOHNI – 4 Degrees
  • Darlingside – Birds Say

Great shows from 2016:

  • Avett Brothers – I Wish I Was
  • Lumineers – Sleep on the floor
  • Songhoy Blues – Soubour [if you love blues/Malian music, you need to own this]

Old favorities:

  • Radiohead – Daydreaming
  • Wilco – Just Say Goodbye
  • Sturgill Simpson – All Around You
  • Drive by Truckers – What it means

Respected artists who passed in 2016

  • David Bowie – Black Star  (I know there are Prince, Sharon Jones and Leonard Cohen songs that belong here too)

Favorites from so long ago, I probably wasn’t keeping a list:

  • Rene Marie – Blessings

Love to hear your comments and recommendations on my recommendations.

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