Until recently I thought everyone had the same experience of music just different tastes and that explains why some music hits and some just doesn’t. Turns out some of us have more intense responses to music and I’m one of those so called music tragics.
To this day I have an intense experience with music in all forms. I especially like live performance and when I was a teenager I was in my share of terrible bands but they were absolutely fun at the time. I had music lessons and came from a drenched in music family.
My dad played the guitar which coincidentally was the best thing he did. Somehow it made him a whole person as he was very definitely “on the spectrum”. In those days we just thought he was anti-social and kind of rude but it was just the wavelength he was on or not.
So music affects me intensely at a physiological level. I really feel it. Apparently not everyone does. And after 60+ years I still vibing away and loving hearing and feeling new music in person whenever I get the chance.
Here is a version of one of Tori’s songs from the 90’s. Despite having heard various versions and many other songs this version really hits the spot. When I hear something like this I literally get the goosebumps.
“As it turns out, getting chills from music is not as common as you might think. Researchers from USC released a study that suggests that only about 50 percent of people feel things like shivers, a lump in their throat, and goosebumps when they listen to music. What’s more, those people might have very different brains than those who don’t experience those feelings.”
This study might shed a light on the causes of the phenomenon, but it’s been well documented for years. Actually, it even has a name. The phenomenon of chills or goosebumps that come from a piece of music (or from any other aesthetic experience) is called frisson, and it’s been one of the big mysteries of human nature since it was first described. That’s because even if we know the actual mechanism that causes frisson — a close connection to the emotional processing center — we don’t know what purpose it could serve us. But other studies have suggested some potential benefits of this kind of behavior. One report from 2007 found that individuals who experience frisson are more open to new experiences than others, and other studies described higher levels of creativity and intellectual curiosity. In other words, the appreciation of beauty is central to what makes us human, and frisson is just a super-charged version of that appreciation. from
“Aesthetic chills appear to be a universal emotional experience, although the functions they serve and the mechanisms that account for them remain to be discovered.”
Isn’t that a curious thing. By the way almost anything by Tori Amos hits me the same way. She is a virtuoso and former child prodigy who won a piano scholarship at 5 years old among other things. Tori seems to have Chromesthesia which is very much another level beyond most peoples experiences but whatever it is that inspires her compositions it a kind of beyond chemistry kind of thing going on there.
She also worked with a drummer and bass player ( Matt Chamberlain / Jon Evans) for many years who have excelled at getting a groove going while she almost becomes part of her piano. Her playing is so physical and present it is still surprising to see that intensity. There are some obvious similarities to Kate Bush. One thing about Tori’s songs is that the lyrics seem more like brush strokes than words and her songs are very impressionistic and painterly. A painter who paints with music rather than paint. Whatever alchemy she is making it is beyond articulation and more intuitive in nature. I suspect that many of the lyrics defy any literal interpretation. It is more about the soundscapes and on the two songs I’ve featured also the backline groove.
What is interesting about Tori is that those first 4 albums have provided much of the core of every performance since and the two songs I’ve picked are from the early albums. She has a mystical edge top her writing and I don’t really know if any of the lyrics can be decoded or if they even should be. It doesn’t matter to some extent although I do think considering how prolific she has been that is part of the reason she is invisible to the pop world. That is very few of the songs have any kind of lyric that can be shared by the wider population. To some extent huge popularity comes when people know the chorus and can join in. Although some of her songs have millions of listens like “Winter” which is almost a conventional pop song but at an intensity that few can ever match.
Here are a couple of other tracks that might rock your boat. On Precious Things its like the drummer is sitting inside the piano. Wow.
Below here is a mystery performer playing a cover. Also goosebump material for me right from the first notes and it just keeps up. Can’t explain it but have a listen. It occurs to me that the Roysopp vocal stylings are quite similar in tone to the Tori Amos songs but I don’t think that is it. Also the drumming is insanely great. Watching Tori play the piano also makes me want to play the piano and this piece has me looking at drum kits ha ha.
P.S If you are interested in Tori Amos creative process I did find this interview that may also be of interest.
A bonus goosebumps song from the new Natalie Merchant album. As always your mileage may vary but to me there is visceral response.
For this kind of effect your mileage may vary as they say. Just because I have a heightened response to these songs doesn’t mean you will. In fact some performers are a complete mystery to me – such as Bruce Springsteen.
Update: 27/5 Just came across this article and piece of music which does nothing for me but apparently is designed to be relaxing and to reduce anxiety.