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Old 03-23-2014, 03:36 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy Specific musical anhedonia

Hi Guys!

So let me first tell you something about myself: I'm 15 years old and live in the Netherlands (wow!). I've played the piano for 7 years but I recently stopped playing because I didn't really had fun in doing it for the last 3 years.

A few days ago my biology teacher (who is a super rock fan) talked about the brain and the recent discovery of 'specific musical anhedonia'. She said that some people don't feel any joy or emotions in and while listening to music. The whole class was just absolutely shocked and I was like: well who does!?

The whole class was just speechless about it, they were all laughing about me and stuff, like I was joking! But seriously guys: I DON'T FEEL EMOTIONS OR PHYSICAL REACTIONS WHILE LISTINING TO MUSIC. It's not like I'm a hater or something, I like the artists for their looks and enthousiasm, but i'm completely neutral if I hear a song.

After doing some research on the internet I found out that 1 to 5% of the world's population has specific musical anhedonia. There are some other 'syndroms' related to music, but those people can't feel music because they can't distinguish certain tones and pitches. Other syndroms relate to 'the lack of sociality and depressions. But I don't have those things! I like food, I love, other people, I've got lots and lots of good friends, I'm interested in money and I'm one of the happiest persons on the world!

So why am I sharing this with music lovers?? (Now that I am thinking about it; what a dumbass am I....) I just discovered that people can feel emotions while listening to music... I can't really comprehend it yet... I am kinda sad that I probably miss so much good feelings that you guys have...

I wanted to let you know that I think all people are awesome as they are. I want to let all the 'normal' people know that people who aren't feeling emotions for music are not depressive people, are no haters, are no stupid jerks who are pissing of other people. The reaction of my classmates in the biology class was probably the most shocking for me... After 15 years of listening music I never thought why people where really doing it...

I hope you guys understand me... sorry for the bad english
best regards
A boy with specific musical anhedonia
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Old 03-23-2014, 07:46 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Personally I never heard such rubbish. Music ALWAYS makes me feel a certain way --- sad, tired, relaxed, happy, upbeat, downbeat, angry, bored .... why would it not? If music doesn't affect you emotionally I think you're missing out a huge part of the reason why we listen to it.

And why it means so much in the lives of so many, including me.
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Old 03-23-2014, 07:51 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Old 03-23-2014, 08:52 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Welcome. I hope that maybe you can gain some insight on how or why most people enjoy music. People here like to talk about how songs or albums make them feel so I hope you get something out of reading music related posts here.

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Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
Personally I never heard such rubbish. Music ALWAYS makes me feel a certain way --- sad, tired, relaxed, happy, upbeat, downbeat, angry, bored .... why would it not? If music doesn't affect you emotionally I think you're missing out a huge part of the reason why we listen to it.

And why it means so much in the lives of so many, including me.
It's absolutely not rubbish and I can't believe that anyone would state that so boldly as you did there. Everybody's brain is different, they all work differently. There are areas of the brain devoted to emotional interpretation of sounds, and while it functions in most people, those brain centres might not function in other people. Just because you say some music makes you feel something doesn't mean that another person is going to feel the same way about it.
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Old 03-23-2014, 11:29 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Yeah, we covered a good deal of ground there.

I, personally, didn't know there were some people who didn't like music before I read that. But given the various other likes and dislikes I've seen in people over the years, I wasn't too surprised.

The best way for me to describe it, to someone who doesn't understand, is that music is to the ears not unlike art is to the eyes. Or, perhaps you're moved by poetry, or fiction. Have you ever read a book that made you cry, or angry, or sad? Well, for us musical people, music has the same effect on us. Our brains are moved by differences in sound the same way art moves some people's emotions, the only difference is that it's an aural stimulation instead of a visual one.

For me and a lot of other people, music moves and effects us more than any other art form.

EDIT: Another analogy would be a movie. I presume you go to a movie occasionally and are frightened, amused, brought to tears, left in suspense, etc., depending on the movie? Well if so, you understand how we respond to music. The way the action unfolds in a movie and stirs our emotions is similar to the way the sounds in a song unfold and stir music-lover's emotions.
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Last edited by DriveYourCarDownToTheSea; 03-23-2014 at 11:52 PM.
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Old 03-24-2014, 02:06 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Yeah, I like to read a good emotional book and there are a few movies I really cried about. On some informative sites people say that's indeed a part of our brain that relates audio with emotion (an old instinct of us). My brain probably isn't making this connection.

I've read some topics on the forum and I was trying to listen to some songs people mentioned, I didn't really got touched by any of the songs with different genres.

Thnx for the nice responses
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Old 03-24-2014, 10:45 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Just of curiousity, I'm wondering if you can understand, on an "intellectual" level at least, why some songs are "sad" or "happy" or whatever.

For example, here is a song that makes me cry more than just about any other song. I think most people would agree it's a sad, melancholy song. There are particular parts of this song which really affect me, but if you would, listen to the song amd tell if you can understand why some people might think it's "sad," even if it does nothing for you personally:

First Episonde at Hienton

Now here's a "happy" song. It makes me want to bop up and down and snap my fingers.

Linus and Lucy

I'm wondering if you can understand the differences between the two songs and see why the first one is sad and the second one is happy. Just curious.
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Old 03-24-2014, 12:16 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
Personally I never heard such rubbish. Music ALWAYS makes me feel a certain way --- sad, tired, relaxed, happy, upbeat, downbeat, angry, bored .... why would it not? If music doesn't affect you emotionally I think you're missing out a huge part of the reason why we listen to it.

And why it means so much in the lives of so many, including me.


We were recently discussing this in that "Some people don't really like music" thread.

The thing is, it's not a very common thing, it's like hemaphrodites you've never met one but they exist. lol
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Old 03-24-2014, 03:03 PM   #9 (permalink)
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It might also be a temperament thing. Paintings, for instance, to a large degree had very little effect on me and it takes a certain effort of concentration in order to arouse anything genuinely close to a feeling at immediate sight. And like you, perhaps paradoxically, I drew and painted for years during my adolescence in an almost robotic sense without actually displaying any of the works to anyone. I'm pretty sure psychologists have some explanation, perhaps brain and cognitive researchers with advanced brain mapping techniques have a more verifiable explanation which in any case I've yet to read.

Words tend to be the same - I pick and choose them quite often purely for their musical quality, and pictorial representation to this day, is a huge effort of brain straddle. But give me too much poetry, especially well written, old fashioned type with a meter, rhyme and rhythm and I risk indulgence in sentimental nostalgia or solipsistic melancholy. Over time, through sheer will and dogmatic perseverance, I can now picture and play long winded scenes in my head with a genuine feeling and without much tedium.

So my friend, I apologize for ducking your question as I don't know enough about it. But I hope it served as a pattern of sorts, with music gaining similar spontaneity with time and perseverance.
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Old 03-24-2014, 03:17 PM   #10 (permalink)
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It might also be a temperament thing. Paintings, for instance, to a large degree had very little effect on me and it takes a certain effort of concentration in order to arouse anything genuinely close to a feeling at immediate sight. And like you, perhaps paradoxically, I drew and painted for years during my adolescence in an almost robotic sense without actually displaying any of the works to anyone. I'm pretty sure psychologists have some explanation, perhaps brain and cognitive researchers with advanced brain mapping techniques have a more verifiable explanation which in any case I've yet to read.

Words tend to be the same - I pick and choose them quite often purely for their musical quality, and pictorial representation to this day, is a huge effort of brain straddle. But give me too much poetry, especially well written, old fashioned type with a meter, rhyme and rhythm and I risk indulgence in sentimental nostalgia or solipsistic melancholy. Over time, through sheer will and dogmatic perseverance, I can now picture and play long winded scenes in my head with a genuine feeling and without much tedium.

So my friend, I apologize for ducking your question as I don't know enough about it. But I hope it served as a pattern of sorts, with music gaining similar spontaneity with time and perseverance.
Wow; I am truly impressed with your way of writing. It's very lyric and poetic. I read a lot of old (Dutch) works from the 19th century because I get joy from the way they build up sentences. I sometimes get mad about how we Dutch truly messed up our language.

But besides your writing: Your experience with painting without really feeling the emotions is somewhat similar with me playing the piano without really getting joy and emotion from it. But I don't think it has to do with temperament: I get emotional while reading a good book or watching a good film. So it's purely music I just don't get emotional from:

I just listened to First Episode at Hienton from Elton John (as suggested by DriveYourCarInToTheSea (excuse me if i didn't spelled that name correctly)). I like the song in a particular way: I think it's well-written and it's a nice song. But I don't got touched by it. It just doesn't give me some kind of emotional thing...

I hope I helped you understanding a little bit more about my condition I'm sorry if am not very clear; my English isn't that good and the whole situation is quite difficult to explain.

Grtz,
Jelke
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