Why do I like the music I like? What does your taste in music say about your personality?
I’ve often wondered why certain songs induce shivers up my spine, whilst others have absolutely no effect. After thinking long and hard about why this might happen, I came up with the following ideas, described below. I’d love to hear your opinions and insights on this subject too and look forward to reading them in the comments section below.
Sometimes we like songs because they reflect our current mood or stage in life
A song that has lyrics that are so applicable and true to your life, is more likely to send shivers up your spine. For others they may get tears coming to their eyes. This type of emotional response could be the result of someone else “getting it” and expressing what we may find hard to express quite so articulately and clearly ourselves. In a way, by listening to someone else express what we are feeling, the emotional-intimateness of it gives us The Feels.
A song without lyrics can also have a similar effect if the emotions in your life right now are strongly reflected by the emotions that the music evokes.
With songs that reflect our current mood or stage in life, at some point, we’ll move on to a new mood or life stage, and that song will cease to remain quite that meaningful to us. Instead it becomes a nostalgic song that reminds us of a certain time of our lives that we once lived through.
Sometimes we like songs because they resonate with our personality
Music that move you, no matter what mood you’re in, or what stage of your life you’re at, is more likely to be music that is in line with your personality.
I think that the music-linked-emotions that excite you consistently, reveal what you admire or strive towards in life. Let me explain what I mean with a few examples:
- If you’re moved by epic film music which builds up dramatically to a shiver-inducing climax, it may indicate that your personality is drawn towards the expansive “build-up” to things, for example, the dramatic climb towards success.
- If you love music with a strong regular beat, – It reminds me of the beat of the heart, and being alive, so I would suggest that listening to such music helps us feel “more alive”, whether we need this boost because we’re usually quite restrained, or whether we live life to the full already and it expresses this part of ourselves well. Another possibility: music with very regular, regimented drumbeats, almost like an army march beat reminds me of regular routine; like army-protocol type stuff. I wonder if for some people this may be what resonates with their personality if they like regular strong drumbeats.
- If you’re moved by soft and gentle music, it may indicate that you yourself are a gentle soul. If you admire gentleness in music form, I think it’s quite likely that you will admire gentleness in people too.
- If you’re moved by vocal harmonies (eg choir music): I think this symbolizes the beauty of teamwork; of people working together and of happy, harmonious social integration. It could imply that one of the things that particularly interest you in life is the inter-personal, social side of things. Maybe you’re a fan of understanding psychology.
- If you adore angry-sounding punk music, perhaps this helps you express latent anger you have, so listening to this kind of music makes you feel better and lighter for having gotten it “off your chest” through others. You get a borrowed-benefit of relief through vicariously living through the musician – or even a more directly expressive relief if you sing or play along with them!
- If you quite enjoy melancholic tracks on a regular basis, not just when you’re feeling particularly sad about stuff, perhaps there is a side of you that quite enjoys wallowing in feeling sorry for yourself at times. This may combine with a tendency to see yourself with a slight victim mentality. Perhaps these were people who see themselves as being brought up in the “School of Hard Knocks” and having had a difficult past. For others, maybe they tend to be more melancholic characters in general – perhaps tending towards “being realistic”, erring towards the skeptical, cynical, sarcastic side rather than optimistic, happy-go-lucky side.
- If you are really drawn to instrumental solos, I think what this says about you depends on the instrument.
- Piano music: Although it depends on what kind of piano music you like, usually I would associate it with soft, gentle sounds, with a meaning which is quite similar to the “soft and gentle music” explanation above. A piano piece is also quite simple in that it is made of just one instrument. Perhaps it could mean that you admire pure simplicity vs complexity. It is also an instrument played solo. Perhaps this could reflect a side of you which can enjoy being an independent lone wolf at times.
- Acoustic guitar: This has a folky feel, often with quite a simple sound (just guitar and voice). The sound is soft and mellow, reflecting these qualities in your personality.
- Loud electric guitar: I associate a loud electric guitar with enthusiasm and quite intense feelings.
- If you love loud music (whichever type it is) I think this may be a sign of being an extravert because extraverts need a lot more stimulation to *feel* stuff than introverts. Loud music helps heighten your own emotions, whatever they may be, so it shows a joy of being able to express yourself, and a joy of basking in the strong feeling. Sometimes it can be a desire to tune in with a qualities you wish you had (eg the teenager who cranks up the volume for a tune that tunes him into the vibe of feeling that he’s cool or a badass… and also broadcasts just how cool he is to everyone around!).
I really believe that everything we like and respond to in life has more significance that it may seem. The above are just my invented hypotheses based on the people I know and their tastes in music. What do you think the music you like says about you? Feel free to discuss in the comments below.
- The “How musical are you?” Quiz
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