Monday, June 22, 2015


by Kate Collins

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast.
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.”

Who would’ve thought that current research now shows that those famous lines from eighteenth century playwright William Congreve are truer than we ever suspected? Not only does music calm us, but it also inspires, energizes, lowers our blood pressure, activates neurons in the brain, and affects our thoughts. It’s better than any pharmaceutical drug out there for altering our moods.

But watch out! If you’re feeling blue and you listen to a song of woe, your mood will stay low. However, if you listen to something upbeat and happy, your brain will respond with a release of good chemicals. Smiling does that, too, by the way.

I’ve always known the power of music in my life. There are some genres I love, some I like, some I tolerate, and a few I just can’t stand to listen to. Are you affected that way?

My husband loved to listen to classical music in the morning as he got ready for work, which I enjoyed until a song played on a harpsichord came on, and then I had to turn the station. I don’t know why, I only know that it set my teeth on edge.

When I write, I don’t usually  have music playing. I’m too busy listening to the characters talk to each other. But when I need something in the background, my standard is Mozart. It’s invigorating and yet doesn’t distract me. But when the CD ends, I rarely realize it, so deep in the zone am I.

When I need a pick-me-up, I have to have a peppy or encouraging song, and since the loss of my husband, I’ve found that I’m drawn to that type exclusively. No sad, depressing music for this writer. No whining or complaining, no songs of revenge, nothing of the sort allowed.

My current favorite upbeat songs are “Baby, I’m Good,” by Andy Grammer, “What Makes You Beautiful,” by One Direction, and “On Top of the World” and “I Bet My Life,” by Imagine Dragons.

What songs do you listen to when you want to feel better? Does music affect your mood?

On a fun sidenote, playwright William Congreve was also responsible for penning these immortal words:  “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned / Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.”  Ya just gotta love him.