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Music and Consciousness

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posted on 2015-08-09, 19:47 authored by Earl VickersEarl Vickers

Music has a way of interacting with consciousness. For listeners, one's state of mind may alter what one hears, and vice versa. For performers, the two-way interaction between mind and music becomes a real-time feedback loop, especially when multiple performers engage in extreme improvisation.

Just as people sometimes self-medicate for conditions such as depression, they also use music to self-regulate their emotional states. Conversely, the music that pops unbidden into your head can be an indicator of your emotional state, a window into the soul revealing content of which you may not have been consciously aware. 

Consciousness consists of a wide continuum of mental states, constantly changing in direction and focus. Music, like mind, is ephemeral, mercurial, always in motion, often flitting from one insubstantial thought to the next. Sometimes a single musical phrase can be evocative of a certain mental state. 

This article will explore the interactions between mind and music, including a number of techniques for using sound to interact with the listener's consciousness.