Surachana’s Final Project

How does Music serve Society?

Music is a very important discipline that we need in our daily lives. Music connects people together and creates powerful feelings. Music is something that goes into our ears and deeply touches our hearts. All music has its own meaning and purpose. Some music is created to make people feel happier and some is created to boost up their strengths. The role of music is that it serves as “a way of expressing our feelings as well as emotions”  (source).  What type of music we choose to listen to depends on our moods and feelings at the time. For example, if we are in a good mood, we will listen to a sweet, soft, and happy song like “Happy” from Pharrell Williams. Yet, when our mood is down, we are probably going to choose to listen to sad music like “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri. 

There are many reasons why we listen to music. According to 8 REASONS WHY MUSIC IS IMPORTANT TO US website, those reasons are as follows:

I.) Music is a universal language. Even though we come from the different countries, we can determine the music when it’s being played. People know the purpose of the music right at the point when the song starts. 

II.) Music establishes ambiance. When we are at a party, we definitely need to have music. Imagine we don’t have any music at the party, then how can we call that a party? Even when we are at a college graduation, there is going to be some music being played. 

III.) Music creates unity. As stated earlier, music can bring people together. When we hear a national anthem, we all feel our pride in being citizens of the country. It is like when we are at the football match, where we cheer our own team (country). 

IV.) Music can help us concentrate and focus on what we are doing. Do you often turn on music when you are studying? Do you turn on music when you are doing housework? Well, I do. As mentioned on the website, “it is scientifically proven that music enhances brain functioning,” which can help us focus on the task we are achieving. 

V.) Music expresses our emotions. Whether we are sad or happy, music can be used as a tool to describe the moods. 

VI.) Music helps the imagination flow. When we listen to music and hear the lyrics, we try to understand the content of the piece and what the author is trying to convey. It helps improve our listening skills as well as understanding skills. When we think through the song, our brains are functioning very well. 

VII.) Music helps the memory. Do you have a song that can lead you to think about your old friend? Or your family? Music can be a reminder of our experiences, whether it is a good or bad memory. Music can have healing effects on memory as well. Today, many nurses use musical therapy to help elderly remember the past. 

IIX.) Listening to music is just a pleasure. We listen to it just because we love it!

My Thesis

For today, I am going to explain how music helps us focus and concentrate on the things we are doing. 

According to Terrell, “Music can increase memory, increase retention, better focus, and maximize learning.” We are better off when we listen to the “right” types of musical selection we favor. Music can boost our brain performance on both left and right sides. It can help reduce anxiety, calm our feelings, and make us feel relaxed. As stated earlier, the music we select is dependent upon the mood at the moment. Some days we wake up with happiness, but others could be with sadness. This is when music can help our consistency and the ability to concentrate. Listening to the song we like can help us concentrate by “blocking out distracting noise” and it also “serves to make the task at hand more engaging, less dull, and easier to concentrate on”(source). The following paragraphs will show you two different musical pieces with different context and purpose. One of them is created for the purpose of studying and the other is to help focus on exercising. 

Types of Music 

A.) Studying with Instrumental Music 

A study has suggested that “listening to music could actually enhance intelligence” (source).  Studying can be stressful, so listening to music can help students relax and reduce their anxiety. Music can also help students focus on their studying by “improving mood” and “providing motivation” (source). When your mood is positive, it keeps the motivation to study going and the students will not get bored easily. It can also help students to memorize information better, because music indirectly boosts the brain’s function. However, it is important to choose the right music as well. Some music styles are a good choice for concentration, but some are not. There are many types of music we can choose to listen to, but it is most important to choose the one that fits our type. 

Link to full version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjyh0BxYMm8 (Thailand, 2017)

This is a piece of traditional Thai music called “Khak Toi Moe (แขกต่อยหม้อ)” played by the artist Silpi Tramoth. There’s no specified date of composer or songwriter because traditional Thai music was just passed down from generation to generation without knowing who the author was. Most of the songs were used for ceremonial and important events. The beat of this song can be easily identified by the sound of an instrument called “Ching”. The ching is an instrument that is used as the main beat of traditional Thai music. In this song, the ching starts to play from the time 0:30 onward. It is applied to keep the pulse of the music running. This song does not contain any vocal part, just an instrument. There are some styles of Thai music with lyrics, but most of them are solely instrumental. “Khak Toi Moe (แขกต่อยหม้อ)” contains a horizontal organization and it applies polyphonic texture throughout the song, where there are more than two melody lines being played at the same time. Moreover, the song starts with soft dynamics and it changes to louder dynamics at the time 4:15. You can easily recognize that the sound of the ching is getting faster as well. 

Since this song is an instrumental with no vocal part, it can help listeners concentrate better on what they are doing. Songs with lyrics can sometimes drag your attention away, which is not a good choice when it comes to studying. While studying, we intensively use the brain to focus. However, not all people will agree with this statement because we are not the same. Some people might better concentrate when they listen to a song that contains lyrics. It really depends on the type of music we like. I usually listen to traditional Thai music when I am doing my college projects, folding the petals of lotus, making jasmine garlands, cooking, and even meditating. I think it helps me very well with my concentration.  I have a fun video from a Thai series called “Buppe San Nivas (บุพเพสันนิวาส)”. The activities they do in this video are similar to what I do. I have to be very dedicated and neat in doing these activities. Throughout the video, please pay attention to the music being played because you can also hear the sound of ching, the main beat of traditional Thai music. 

Some instrumental music that I also listen to:

Instrumental Version

Original Version

B.) Exercising with the EDM (Electronic Dance Music)

As mentioned, listening to music can help relieve your stress and improve mood. Listening to music while exercising can help “improve the quality of your workout by increasing your stamina and putting you in a better mood” (source). Music can inspire you to exercise harder and to move faster. When you are dancing, you mind will concentrate on two things: your body movement and the music. When we change the dance movements, we commonly depend on the beat and dynamics of the song. We dance fast when the beat is fast, and vice versa for the slow song. Music also helps you want to move. When you hear music with a fast beat and “‘high-groove’ qualities,” your brain gets excited, which induces your body to make a move (source). 

Full link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BTjG-dhf5s (Mexico, 2012)

“Limbo” is a song from the album Prestige by Daddy Yankee. This song is written by Ramon Ayala, Elizier Palacios, Giencarlos Rivera, Jonathan Rivera, and Francisco Saldaña. The producers of the song are Luny Tunes and MadMusick. It was originally released on October 27, 2012. The genre is Latin Pop and EDM. Limbo is a dance contest created on the island of Trinidad, where two people will hold on to a wood bar and a person has to bend back and walk under the bar without falling. The song “Limbo” was created specially for Zumba Fitness, where it accompanies Zumba dances. Zumba uses a lot of hip and waist movements, and I can see that Zumba dancers are very flexible and they make sharp moves. We can see these dances as well as the limbo contest throughout the song. As claimed by Yankee, he wanted “Limbo to invite the imagination, ignite creativity, to step away from the norm and bring something completely different” (source).  The tempo of the song is 125 beats per minute. The beat of the song starts at 0:40 as the singer claps his hands along with the beat. The lyrics of the song are in Spanish; however, when translated to English, the lyrics describe how to do the limbo’s moves as well as encourage people to come and dance. The intro of the song says “Come on, take it (stick), rhythm, waist, lean back, and move under the limbo.” The chorus of the song says: “This is like dance, this is like dance and enjoy it with all my people. The sun is on our side , suntanned skins and the heat, it can’t be better! Zu-zu-zumba.” The repetition of the term “Zu-zu-zumba” is being used throughout the song as well. Lastly, the song starts from soft dynamics and it changes to  louder dynamics at the time 0:55. 

If you like to do Zumba, “Limbo” would be a perfect song to use. As we are moving our bodies, our minds are concentrating on the movements and the song. It helps us focus on the dance rather than outside surroundings. If we do not focus on the dance movement, then we will lose our awareness of what should be the next moves. This shows how music helps us concentrate, even in exercising. In a scenario of a fitness class, the trainer will direct whether to move fast or slow. Most of the time, he will depend on the beat and dynamics of the music. If the music is getting fast, then he would direct the people to move faster along with the music. I personally listen to EDM when I am exercising. I enjoy dancing, doing sit-ups, and hula-hooping. EDM motivates me to do the moves faster and sharper. It helps increase my exercise time, so I can keep on moving my body. I also listen to EDM when I am doing chores. I found out that I can get things done better when listening to the music along with what I do. Since I love dancing, music has helped me remember my dance moves as well. The lyrics of the song tell me what moves I have to do. If I lose my place in the music, then I will lose the move of the dance as well. It is very important to stay focused! 

My Appreciation

As a result of the course work this semester, I have gained more knowledge about the musical elements and how to analyze musical selections. I have gained the ability to determine the genre, texture, and other musical components of music. Before taking this course, I did not pay attention very much to these musical elements and how each piece of music was formed. I did not pay attention to what the author was trying to convey in his musical piece. But, after taking this course, I have changed my mind and started to think through each piece of music and the meaning behind it. It also keeps my brain functioning. I get a deeper sense for why music is created and how it serves our daily lives. I really appreciated my instructor and my peers from this course. I would like to thank you all for your kindness, your suggestions, and good comments. You guys are very awesome! I wish you all the best of luck with your Final. 

Take care,

Surachana. 

Sources:

Catherine, A, et al. “What Role Does Music Play in Our Life?”  The Creative Music Blog, 24 Aug. 2017, blog.procollabs.com/role-music-plays-life/.

Shaun. “How Does Music Help You Concentrate?” Edugage, 18 Jan. 2019, edugage.com/how-does-music-help-you-concentrate.

Terrell, Shannon. “How Does Music Help You Focus?” Mindvalley Blog, 7 May 2020, blog.mindvalley.com/does-music-help-you-focus/.

Mitch de Klein. “8 Reasons Why Music Is Important to Us.” Mitch De Klein, Mitch De Klein, 9 Aug. 2016, www.mitchdeklein.com/blog/201688-reasons-why-music-is-important-to-us.

Shaun. “5 Benefits Of Listening To Music While Studying.” Edugage, 27 Apr. 2020, edugage.com/5-benefits-of-listening-to-music-while-studying/.

Davis, Nicky. “Is It Good to Listen to Music While Studying?” Study.com, 2020, study.com/academy/popular/is-it-good-to-listen-to-music-while-studying.html.

Spanier, Alexandra Carley, et al. “SiOWfa15: Science in Our World: Certainty and Controversy.” SiOWfa15 Science in Our World Certainty and Controversy, 22 Oct. 2015, sites.psu.edu/siowfa15/2015/10/22/why-is-music-so-important/.

Markell, Jenny. “Can Listening to Music Improve Your Workout?” National Center for Health Research, 21 July 2020, www.center4research.org/can-listening-music-improve-workout/.

“7 Reasons You Should Listen To Music When You Work Out.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 7 Dec. 2017, www.huffpost.com/entry/why-exercise-workout-music-playlist_n_4173931.

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