Many people think that they can relax while listening to music. Although we can find some records with "relaxing music" in stores, describing the role of music as a means designed to help us achieve a sense of joy and rejection of concerns would be some gross oversimplification.
Emotions are important
Music was created in order to affect our feelings. Accompanying the words – In the songs, in the liturgy, in the theatre – it was to strengthen and educate the audience on their meaning. As part of the custom, it was to express joy (wedding dances and songs), pain (cries and whimpers), majesty (music for the coronation); it was to cheer for battle (military marches) and for work (mass songs). Finally, it was to make people better, richer spiritually (classical symphonies and sonatas, the great romantic works). Of course, there has always been music for making our time nicer, but such had different forms when it was made by peasants and other when it was courtly or knight music, is city music has different form – the most popular today, and very diverse.
Emotions found in music
When listeners of various musical fragments were asked to describe the feelings with which they associate the music, the adjectives used by them were arranged in a circle covering many meanings. Opposing concepts, forming bipolar axes, became the diameters of the circle: happy - sad, exciting - dreamy, lively - calm, dignified - full of charm . When asked about the most powerful experiences in music, people say: "unique", "fantastic", "amazing", "impossible to express in words", they experience at the same time excitement or calm, bliss, ecstasy, or a sense of perfection and fulfillment, there are also feelings of fear, confusion, anger, shock and shame .
Music evokes reactions which we cannot control: tears, dry mouth, creeps, saliva swallow reflex, goose-bumps (mentioned by 90% of respondents describing their strongest feelings associated with listening to music) .
Music supports recovery
Music has long been used in the treatment of mental disorders. With its fast pace and equal rhythm, Italian tarantella dance, popular in the eighteenth century, was – according to legend – to protect a man from death after being bitten by a poisonous spider tarantula, kind of helping him recover from convulsions and loss of consciousness caused by the venom. Now therapists refer to very diverse types of music in order to use it to get closer to the patient’s experience. Music makes it easy to get in touch with people who are autistic, it allows to express feelings without using words, music can make it easier to find the meaning of life, increase self-esteem, encourage group activities. Therefore, it may help people suffering from stress to relax, and to people falling into a stupor – to return to action.
Music around us
In many cases, music fills the acoustic background of our lives, so to speak it arranges and obscures the noise, which without it would be unbearable. We cannot imagine shopping malls without music, many of us cannot do without it while travelling. Here, music does not really relax but it makes it easy to deal with stress.
Music in our culture
Please remember, however, that the composer wants to communicate something through his music. Careful listening to music, both classical and entertainment music, requires concentration, giving up any activities disturbing reception (vacuuming, conversations, even writing and reading). The contents carried by music, although not shown in words, can be fascinating. To reach them, you have to delve into the depths of musical structures, often arranged in multiple layers (I recommend the track in turn all instrumental layers interspersed with text of a good hip-hop song; in order to see it, you have to listen to a song a few times!). Listening requires mental effort and leads to emotional experiences. As the music will go silent, we can feel the fatigue. The effort, however, should give us a lot of satisfaction, like reading a book, watching a movie or a theatre play.
 Hevner, K. (1936): Experimental studies of the elements of expression in music. American Journal of Psychology, 47, 246-268.
 Gabrielsson, A: Emotions in strong experiences with music. In: Juslin, P. Sloboda, J.A (ed., 2000): Music and emotion. Theory and research. Oxford, Oxford Univ. Press.
 Sloboda, J. A. (1991): Music structure and emotional response. Some empirical findings. Psychology of Music 19.1.
 We recommend: www.muzykoterapia.wroclaw.pl (website of the Music Therapy Student Scientific Society).
Kacper Miklaszewski, PhD (born 1949) – graduate of the piano studies at Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) (1974), he also studied at the School of Music at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. In 1984, he got his doctorate degree in music theory at the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw. In the years 2000-2010, he lectured the basics of music psychology and conducted a seminar of music critics in the Institute of Musicology of the University of Warsaw. As a music journalist, he cooperates with "Ruch Muzyczny" and II Polish Radio Programme.