Relation Between Music and Memory – How They Are Relevant

Relation Between Music and Memory

Music is like a special gift for our senses. It can transport us back to moments we almost forgot were memories. At the same time, it lets artists share their deep feelings and memories with many people.

Imagine you’re driving in your car at 25, and suddenly, ‘A Thousand Miles’ by Vanessa Carlton plays on the radio. It takes you back to the time when you were 13, sitting on your bedroom floor, upset about a short-lived “relationship.”

Even hearing the first few notes of an old school hymn can make you remember your strict primary school teacher, insisting you stand up straight and smile during assembly. Music has this amazing power to bring back feelings we haven’t felt in a long time and take us to places we thought were left in the past.

Stephanie Rainey

A singer-songwriter from Cork, understands how powerful music can be in taking us back in time. She believes that music is like a special language or smell that can bring up memories and emotions”I think music affects memory in a strange way. It’s like a language or a smell. You hear a song, and suddenly, you’re back in a specific time, experiencing something, being with someone.

It can make you feel things as if it’s happening right now. I often find myself crying when I listen to certain songs because they remind me of something. It’s an amazing power.

Stephanie’s song ‘Please Don’t Go’ is a tribute to her nephew who sadly passed away. It talks about loss and heartbreak, something many people can understand. The melody of ‘Please Don’t Go’ creates images that hold a strong sense of nostalgia and memories connected to sad moments.”Even today, when I sing some of my songs live, especially ‘Please Don’t Go,’ I sometimes get emotional. It takes me back to a specific moment, and I feel a similar energy from the people in the room. It’s all because of memory—the memory of someone you’ve lost. That’s what music does, and that’s why I love it so much.”

Jack Lukeman

Jack Lukeman, also known as Jack L, is an Irish singer-songwriter who thinks of music as a way to remember things. He knows how powerful music can be in helping us remember, and certain songs can make a lasting mark in our brains.

Jack said, “When it comes to remembering songs or lyrics practically, it surprises me that I can sing a song I haven’t sung in years from memory in an instant. I have lots of songs in my head, and I believe that melody helps with remembering things.”

Sometimes, we notice that we can easily hum the lyrics of a catchy song like ‘Mambo No.5’ from 1999, but we might struggle to remember an important definition we studied for hours before a big exam. It makes you think about whether Hannah Montana had a clever idea in her 2007 episode where she turned the anatomy of the human body into a simple and effective melody called ‘The Bone Dance’.

Maria Borck

Maria Borck, a music therapist and scholar, shared a special moment from her work where music helped a lady with dementia remember something important, even if only for a short time.

“In my group, there was a lady who usually felt confused because of her dementia. One day, she started singing a song she knew. It wasn’t on our list, but I played along with my guitar, and other ladies joined in with their instruments. After the song, during the questions, this lady, who usually struggled to talk, sang the entire song.She began sharing memories from her youth, her family, where she came from, and other memories we thought she had lost due to her memory troubles. Even though her words were not clear, there was a bright moment where she could express herself, share her experiences, and feel a sense of belonging.”

Maria also explained why we often remember the words of a song from years ago and instantly recall the associated memories.

“Scientists found that our brain pays more attention to things that have emotional meaning. Our senses bring us back to events that had emotional importance, like when a taste takes you back to the first time you tried it. Music is a powerful tool to bring out emotions and memories.Listening to a song isn’t just a solo activity. When you listen to a song in a peaceful place like a forest or a beach, you remember the whole moment – the blue sky, the sea, the comfortable temperature, the good feeling. If that moment is linked to a specific situation or person that makes your emotion stronger, the memory and its connection to the music become stronger too.”

The Beauty of Music

Music serves various purposes – it can make a conversation less awkward by playing in the background, and in a dementia ward, it can briefly bring brightness to a mind that’s often in the dark. Some may think of music as just entertainment, but if we see it only that way, we might miss out on a significant medical breakthrough. The tune of a song can jog our memory, and the words help us connect to the song, giving it meaning.

People use music for different reasons – some love to play it, while others enjoy listening to it. No matter why we listen to music, there’s hardly a time when a song doesn’t bring back some memories.

Music isn’t just a mix of pleasing beats, tones, sounds, and lyrics meant to satisfy our ears. It’s like a time machine, allowing us to travel back to moments that have passed. Artists use it to express their memories, listeners use it to recall their own, and science even uses it to bring back memories. Music is a powerful way for us to connect with our past.

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