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What is the shape or contour of the melody?

What are the kinds of chord progressions used? In his book, Gasser also acknowledges the tremendous role sociology plays in our musical tastes.

How Smart Speakers Are Changing the Way We Listen to Music

Nolan Gasser. Another interesting thing about our musical tastes is how early those seeds are planted. Through the first year, especially, it gets more limited. The synapses generated in the brain forge certain sounds and exclude others. If you play something for a baby a few times and make a slight shift, the baby turns its head at that shift. It recognizes the deviation. The power that we have as infants to process and understand music is extraordinary. Gasser says, as we grow, our musical tastes really help us to forge our individual identities — especially distinct from our parents.

When they grow up, that music will be part of who they are, tied in with memories and growing up. All of these powers are why music is so important to us. When my kids discover an artist they like, and an album has a couple of songs they love, they still do explore the whole album. You just don't need to save up all your allowance to buy one album.

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You can listen to everything. Meanwhile, other types of music been been used in attempts to prevent crime, according to musicologist Lily E. Hirsch wrote about how classical music was used to deter loitering in her hometown of Santa Rosa, California. In , she wrote, city leaders decided to play classical music to clear young people from the city's Old Courthouse Square. Many teens didn't enjoy the music, according to Hirsch, and left the area, which encouraged the city to keep the background music playing. The effectiveness of music as a crime prevention measure has to do with sound's construction of who we are but also with who we are not, wrote Hirsch, a visiting scholar at California State University, Bakersfield.

We often identify with music based on who we think we are, Hirsch told CNN in an email.

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In this situation, people identify themselves in the negative -- namely, who they are not -- through certain music, Hirsch explained. People are still surprised by this usage of music, she added. But music has "always been used in a variety of ways, positive and negative," Hirsch said. Music can make us feel all sorts of emotions, some of which are negative, added Laurel Trainor, professor of psychology, neuroscience and behavior and director of the McMaster Institute for music and the mind.

It can "bring people together and fuel these social bonds," this can be positive as well as negative, according to her. For example, as far back as we have records, music has been used in war, explained Trainor, because it brought people together socially. Music has power over our feelings. No other species has evolved in such a way to ascribe meaning and create emotional responses to music as humans, she added. Everyone can relate to the experience of listening to a melancholic playlist and then not being able to escape the mood. But, according to research, even how we perceive the world around us can be influenced by music.

Researchers at the University of Groningen showed in an experiment that listening to sad or happy music can not only put people in a different mood, but also change what people notice. In a study, 43 students listened to happy or sad music in the background as they were tasked with identifying happy and sad faces. When happy music was played participants spotted more happy faces and the opposite was true for sad music.

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The researchers argue that this could be because the perceptual decision on our sensory stimuli, in the experiment's case the face expressions, are directly influenced by our state of mind. But if music can change our mood and perception, the question remains if that is a good thing. Another recent study says it depends. People with clinical depression tendencies were found to feel worse after listening to sad music.


On the other hand, those who didn't have these tendencies reported feeling better after listening to sad music. It helps work through emotions and fosters connections between people, previous research said. The study included people with and without depression and found that both groups felt better after listening to happy music. Fact: Listening to sad music can be an effective way to deal with our emotions according to research by the Western Sydney University.

Levitin believes that "the weight of evidence is that music can help depression" because it offers people a distraction. During clinical depression, however -- which is a different thing, Levitin added -- the person is disengaged and might not want to engage with music. Away from mood and emotions, music can also affect simple actions like how much money we spend or how productive we are, research shows. People who dance and actively engage with music were found to be happier than others, who didn't engage with music in that way, according to a study from Australia.

The researchers interviewed 1, participants over the phone and looked at their subjective wellbeing scores -- their individual evaluations of life satisfaction. The people who danced and attended music events had significantly higher subjective wellbeing scores than those who didn't engage with music in these ways. People actively engaging with music in a group also had higher scores than others who enjoyed music in these ways while alone.

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