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Thread started 07/22/15 10:17pm

morningsong

The strange phenomenon of musical "skin orgasms"

Some people feel music so strongly the sensations can be compared to sex. How does a good song move the body and mind in this way, asks David Robson.

Sometimes music strikes the body like a bolt of lightning. “I was in a friend’s dorm room in my third year as an undergraduate,” Psyche Loui remembers. “Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 came up on the radio and I was instantly captivated.” A chill down the spine, fluttering in her stomach, a racing heart – the musical movements still send the same feelings surging through her body to this day. “There are these slight melodic and harmonic twists in the second half that always get me!” she says.
The aesthetic experience can be so intense that you can’t do anything else
Loui is an accomplished pianist and violinist, but you don’t need to be an expert for a song or score to electrify the senses in this way; it can strike anyone, anytime – in a cathedral or a shopping mall, at a wedding or on the Tube. You may know these physical feelings as chills or tingles – but some people feel them so powerfully, they describe the sensations as “skin orgasms”. “The aesthetic experience can be so intense that you can’t do anything else,” says Loui.
We normally only respond like this to experiences that might ensure or endanger our survival – food, reproduction, or the terrifying plummet of a rollercoaster. How can music – hardly a life-or-death pursuit – move the mind and the body as powerfully as sex? Years after her first dalliance with Rachmaninov’s concerto, Loui became a psychologist at Wesleyan University, and recently reviewed the evidence and theories explaining the phenomenon with her student Luke Harrison.

Loui and Harrison point out that the sensations can be extraordinarily varied beyond the shivers people normally report. A 1991 study of professional musicians and non-musicians, for instance, found that around half of all the respondents experienced trembling, flushing and sweating, and sexual arousal in response to their favourite pieces, as well as that familiar feeling of a shiver down the spine. Such varied and potent experiences may explain the origins of the term “skin orgasm”, and indeed, many cultures openly recognise the similarities. North Indian and Pakistani Sufis have long discussed an erotic dimension to deep music listening. Even so, Loui and Harrison tend to prefer the term “frisson”, since it avoids embarrassing connotations for experimental subjects describing their experiences.
North Indian and Pakistani Sufis have long discussed an erotic dimension to deep music listening
As Loui has noticed herself with Rachmaninov’s concerto, people are often able to pick out specific measures that release an outpouring of those sensations. Using those reports, researchers have then been able to pinpoint the kinds of features that are more likely to trigger the different sensations during a musical frisson. Sudden changes in harmony, dynamic leaps (from soft to loud), and melodic appoggiaturas (dissonant notes that clash with the main melody, like you’ll find in Adele’s Someone Like You) seem to be particularly powerful. “Musical frisson elicit a physiological change that’s locked to a particular point in the music,” says Loui. Our YouTube playlist below offers you some of the songs that seemed to elicit the most skin orgasms in lab subjects.




Once you get to know a song, these feelings may become even more powerful. Even though you have lost the initial sense of surprise, you may have become conditioned to feel the frisson – just like Pavlov’s dogs salivating when the bell rang for their food.
On top of all this, a favourite piece of music will speak to our empathy as we try to imagine what the composer or singer was feeling. It will also evoke our memories as the song becomes entrenched in the central events of our lives. The result is a heady emotional cocktail whenever you listen to the piece – and it is partly why our taste is so individual, says Loui. “Our own autobiographical experiences interact with the musical devices – so that everyone finds a different piece of music rewarding.”
http://www.bbc.com/future...kin-orgasm
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Reply #1 posted 07/24/15 8:26am

KingBAD

"A syncopated note more than a sustained composition..." john king

i am KING BAD!!!
you are NOT...
evilking
"KingBAD, well you are just a troll" (an emotional fan)
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Reply #2 posted 07/24/15 9:48am

morningsong

I just listened to Chaka Khan's "Through the Fire" and realized, it is one of those songs I always have an actual physical reaction to. There's no personal memory attached to it, it's just one of those songs, that I do get goosebumps about even just the though of hearing it.

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Reply #3 posted 07/24/15 10:54pm

JoeyC

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morningsong said:

I just listened to Chaka Khan's "Through the Fire" and realized, it is one of those songs I always have an actual physical reaction to. There's no personal memory attached to it, it's just one of those songs, that I do get goosebumps about even just the though of hearing it.



Same here ! As a matter of fact, I Feel For You(album) has been on on my bedtime playlist for about 4 days now. I love everything about that song but especially toward the end when she sings...



"Through the fire, to the limit
Through the fire, through whatever
Through the fire, to the limit
Through the fire, through whatever". cloud9

Rest in Peace Bettie Boo. See u soon.
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