Before attending college, I would not have considered myself someone who used music as an escape from reality. 

Sure, I went to concerts, I sang in the car with my friends to songs on the radio, I played the acoustic guitar for three years,  and I turned on music as background noise while I completed my homework.

Now, music has a whole new meaning.

Going to a college out of state meant being surrounded by people I did not see every day in the hallways of my high school in Illinois. Due to seeing so many new faces, I was exposed to all kinds of music tastes and I began to realize the type of music that best fits me. 

When I am feeling happy, I tend to listen to music that is more upbeat. When I am working out, I also listen to more upbeat music, which happens to be a lot of rap and other songs that have a good rhythm to them. When I am doing homework, I listen to music that is more relaxed because I believe it helps me focus better.

When I feel sad, I listen to more mellow songs where the lyrics tell a good story that relate to whatever I am going through. It takes a lot for me to feel angry, but if that were to happen, I listen to songs that get the message across of why I am mad. I would say that these songs are not as slow-paced as the sad songs I listen to, but not as upbeat as the happy music I play. This is different from some of my friends because whenever they are angry, they like to listen to songs that have a more aggressive tone. 

The University of Southern California (USC) conducted a study in 2019 that dug deeper into the idea of why music makes us feel the way we do. The study found that things like changing dynamics, changing rhythms and changing timbre were picked up on most by the Heschl’s gyrus area of the brain, located in the temporal lobe. Contrasts in pulse and strength of beats were found to cause changes within the brain’s activity, making the scans light up after hearing contrasts in dynamics. 

Scientists say that the Heschl’s gyrus “lights up like a Christmas tree” when we listen to music, according to Classic FM. 

I got into Spotify my first year at Wartburg and when I started figuring out the type of music I liked to listen to when I am in a certain mood. I organized my favorite songs into playlists to fit those moods. Now, when I am happy, sad or angry, my playlists are easy to navigate. 

I am one of those people who listens to every genre, but there is definitely a musical style I prefer. That would be slow-paced and relaxed songs with good lyrics that speak to the emotions I am feeling in the moment. For example, “Malibu Nights” by LANY is a song that I believe is really powerful. It is a song that I mostly listen to when I am upset because the lyrics tell a story that I can make personal connections with. 

Another song that I really like the message of is “Good Things Fall Apart” by ILLENIUM featuring Jon Bellion. I can listen to this song regardless if I am happy or sad. This song helps me move on from something that I thought was once good, but I cannot do anything about the outcome of the situation.

If I listen to the correct type of music when I am sad, for example, it makes me feel better because I can relate to the songs. Oddly enough, if I listen to upbeat music when I am sad, it messes with my head and I do not feel well afterward. Everyone has different preferences for what kind of music they listen to when they are feeling some type of way, and it was honestly such a relief to find the music that best suits me.



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