Man’s love story with music


Aik Loon: Because of music, our future might just look a little different.

MUSIC has been an integral part of life, culture and tradition since time immemorial. It thus begs the question: why is it so important to us?

If you asked most teens in the 21st century how often they listen to music, the answer would most likely be “every day”.

Studies have shown a strong correlation between music and emotions – primarily how it affects us.

When we listen to fast-paced, high-tempo songs, we tend to feel pumped and lively; likewise, when we listen to slow, low-tempo songs, we tend to feel a sense of calmness and sentimentality.

This phenomenon can be attributed to three main parts of the human brain: the nucleus accumbens, amygdala and cerebellum. Essentially, these parts are activated by the tunes that feed our ears during our daily commute, exercise or study sessions. Then, through neurons and impulses, complex emotions are generated like a geyser rising from the rumbling ground beneath.

Music is considered a solace for many. Listening to your favourite song is comparable to getting a warm hug from loved ones after a long journey; or breathing crisp, cool air after a suffocating stay in a smog-filled town.

It allows us a chance to gather our thoughts and focus on what’s next. During the worldwide lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, music was considered a source of escapism for many.

From sharing different music finds to creating niche playlists for each other, it was a way for us to feel connected, keeping us grounded when everything was spiralling out of control.

In fact, a well-known music streaming service provider saw a 27% increase in total monthly users to 345 million at the end of 2020.

This is testament to how vital our favourite tunes have guided us through tough times. Music is a mystically perfect avenue for self-expression. It allows creatives a medium to voice out on pressing topics such as climate change and voter rights.

Let’s take Japanese-American singer-songwriter Mitski’s bittersweet song, Class of 2013, for example. It vividly depicts the agonising fear of many fresh graduates as they transition to adulthood.

Music is undoubtedly the only universal language that transcends all barriers and restrictions. Let’s say you were listening to a catchy, bubblegum pop song that happened to be in a foreign language.

Would you still enjoy it? That was the question asked by international researchers in the early 1990s as they studied the effects of music on human behaviour.

Thankfully, they were about to experience the world’s greatest phenomenon that brought a paradigm shift into pop culture today: K-pop.

K-pop is a unique genre of music that originated in South Korea and has since taken over radio waves far and wide.

As part of “Hallyu” or the Korean Wave, K-pop has left its mark despite being written and performed in Korean. It is partly due to its charismatic group of performers with their neatly choreographed dances, and crisp sonics and melodies that K-pop has been able to chart overseas.

Music allows us opportunities to find common ground with everyone and anyone. It can unite, tear and strengthen. In the past, the Vikings would gather around to sing rousing “battle songs” to boost morale before fighting a war.

Similarly, American singer- songwriter Logic’s song, 1-800-273-8255, reportedly resulted in a 5.5% reduction in suicides among those aged 10 to 19 during its release and subsequent performances.

Artistes and the music they produce have a profound impact on society today, especially the youth. Because of music, our future might just look a little different.

Aik Loon, 17, a student in Selangor, is a participant of the BRATs Young Journalist Programme run by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) team.

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