Music Makes the World High

People used to say that love makes the world go round.

Whether or not that is still true, it feels like the world has mostly fallen out of love and has started taking drugs. Something like one of those classic stages of grief, perhaps. Music makes the world high.

I’ve listened to artists as different and unusual as Ladytron, The Knife, The Submarines, Imogen Heap, Paramore, The Birthday Massacre, Basshunter, Deathstars, Blue Stahli, Celldweller, Eluveitie, Evanescence, Nightwish, Two Steps From Hell, Clint Mansell, Jeremy Soule, Mogwai, and many, many more. There’s simply so much music out there. An absolute buffet of high.

Why do I say that music is a drug? The term “drug” can mean a medicine, an anaesthetic, or a full-on narcotic. All three apply to music.

One – and possibly the most interesting – reason is that music is actually prescribed. Music therapy is used as a treatment for heart disease, neurological disorders (such as dementia and amnesia), Psychiatric disorders (such as schizophrenia and depression), adolescent mood disorders, and more. And as much as Australians think Panadol can cure everything, it’s probably a lot healthier to go with music than overdosing on paracetamol.

Train stations and public squares in shopping areas (at least in Melbourne) use music to discourage criminal acts. I didn’t notice this until I a particularly notorious square near the place I used to study suddenly started playing loud opera music one day. It hasn’t stopped since. Apparently it’s helped, but it’s certainly not made life easy for local buskers.

Tried unplugging a teen’s headphones lately? It’s the unbottling of a a bitter wine – maybe you like that kind of thing, but it’s far from sweet. Rather than confronting their feelings and learning how to face life, they’re suppressing (or even feeding) their emotions with music. That used to be me. Celldweller’s “So Long Sentiment” probably hit 250 plays on my phone within two weeks back in 2010. Well, I say “used to”, but even now I sometimes put Evanescence on for a soul-calming morning. Evanescence.

So, yep. Music is a drug.

Do I think it’s a bad drug? Nope. Check my Twitter feed; I’ve high praise for quite a lot of music, and I’m not about to withdraw my comments.

As far as drugs go, though, music is quite flexible and useful. When I listen to music (especially of one genre or style), I feel the effects of ADD less. It helps me concentrate. It also helps me get into certain moods – for instance, if I’m writing a lost-in-the-past character, listening to Within Temptation’s song “Memories” is an artistic aide. Or if I’m thick in a tribal setting, something more like Eluveitie’s “Omnos” or “Brictom” help me get into the feel.

That’s just a couple of examples of me on music. Some people use (often themed) music for exercise, driving, cooking, reading, shopping, cleaning, raging, and even sleeping. Take away their music, and most people are likely to cringe at menial tasks. Ever tried watching a movie or show without the music? Yoiks. Emptiness. Music seriously makes the world high.

Thoughts? Questions? Fire away!

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