“House music is a feeling”
There is something special about house music. As soon as it hits our ears, our bodies intuitively feel inclined to move to the rhythm of the song. All music has the capacity to sound and feel amazing, but what is it about this genre specifically that feels so damn good? Well, there is a science to it, and there are many reasons why humans are so receptive to house music.
Much of it has to do with the way music in general impacts our brain. When we hear a song, it activates three of the four lobes of the human brain, including the frontal, parietal, and temporal lobes. Research confirms that some music even activates the fourth lobe, the occipital lobe, responsible for visual processing. Research also confirms that all music has the ability to provoke emotional responses, and "happy" songs specifically can trigger the release of dopamine in the brain.
With house music being a very broad genre, extending to several subgenres and electronic music in general, there are many ways in which house music can influence our mind and body. Specific types of house music can help you become energized and active, while others can help you with focus and productivity. Research shows that sounds like deep bass and synths can be energizing, while finding songs with characteristics such as repetition and an unobtrusive soundscape (meaning lack of lyrics and obtrusive sounds) can be great for focus. For example, a recent article documenting how music impacts productivity claims, "'ambient electronica'—and its sub-genres of chillout, downtempo, ambient house, and far too many others—all tend to fit our need for 'present but unobtrusive.'"
To further explore the many reasons house music feels so incredible, let's look at the history and evolution of this music genre as a whole.
House music is an influential genre of dance music that was born out of the disco music era in the 80s. Since its inception, many genres and subgenres have evolved out of this infectious sound that we know and love today.
"House music’s origins trace back to the underground clubs of Chicago and New York in the late 70s. Club culture spawned from the disco era was thriving, and DJs were experimenting with new ways of mixing their sets to keep people dancing. Early mixing and remixing techniques gave new life to dance music in the dying disco era. And a unique sound coined “house music” emerged in Chicago."
The evolution of this sound has led to a global genre of music that is widely received across the world. Let's explore some of the reasons why it continues to be so appealing to many people.
Tempo | BPM
Tempo is defined as the speed or pace in which a song is played. To determine a song's tempo, a numerical value is assigned which is referred to as a song's "bpm" or "beats per minute." House music usually sits around 120-130 bpm. Studies show that songs with a bpm ranging from 90-150 bpm are more associated with feelings of happiness, expressiveness, surprise, and amusement. These feelings can even be influenced by augmenting the tempo of a song. A study demonstrated that increasing a song's tempo within this tempo range can increase feelings of happiness, amusement, expressiveness, and even attractiveness while reducing feelings of sadness.
The tempo range of house music is also one that makes us want to dance and move our bodies. Studies show that dancing and body movement can reduce cortisol levels (chemicals produced by the body associated with feelings of stress) and be a great dopamine release. Dopamine is a chemical released in the brain most associated with feelings of happiness and pleasure. There are many things about house music that prompt our bodies to release this hormone, causing us to feel happy and joyful. Tempo can impact us beyond influencing emotional states. It can also have a physiological influence on our bodies:
Tempo directly affects a person physiologically, namely their respiratory and cardiovascular system, by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system. Evidence has shown that the respiratory system exhibits a degree of synchronisation with the tempo of the music with faster tempos increasing heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate, whereas a slower tempo produces the opposite effect. These effects on the cardiovascular and respiratory system explain how house music can generate feelings of excitement and happiness.
The tempo range of house music is a significant contributing factor to the reasons why humans love and are so receptive to house music.
The repetitive rhythmic patterns of house music are another feature that makes this genre unique and attractive to listeners. In a previous article, we broke down the ways in which our brain runs on rhythm. Rhythm and repetition are central to how our human brains function. The repetitive rhythms in house music can be appealing due to the fact that they mirror the repetitive, rhythmic circuitry of the brain. This repetition also makes house music effective in deepening concentration and support memory.
Another important feature of house music is the use of the drop. A beat drop is a musical technique that was popularized by electronic music. It is a sudden change in rhythm or bass line preceded by a moment of build-up. This technique has the ability to significantly trigger the dopamine reward system previously referenced in this article. According to The Science Behind The Drop, "music is all about anticipation and climax." The build-up creates an experience of anticipation that then climaxes when the drop is introduced. This formula causes dopamine to be released in the brain as the anticipation increases, which is then rewarded with the drop. Through brain imaging technologies, scientists were able to demonstrate precisely what is happening in the brain during this experience:
Image from Anatomically distinct dopamine release during anticipation and experience of peak emotion to music | Valorie N Salimpoor, Mitchel Benovoy, Kevin Larcher, Alain Dagher, & Robert J Zatorre | Nature Neuroscience
House music is a fun genre that has captured the hearts of millions worldwide. With the information shared in this article, it is safe to say that our love for house music goes deeper than mere sonic enjoyment, as it has a profoundly positive influence on the human mind and body. For a quick dopamine hit, we invite you to listen to our latest house music-themed playlist.
Enjoy our latest playlist titled "Heart Music":
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