What happens in the brain when people make music together. A better scientific understanding of how music provides brain-to-brain social connections helps highlight that music isn't mere entertainment, but instead is a core feature of human existence with important social implications

What happens in the brain when people make music together. A better scientific understanding of how music provides brain-to-brain social connections helps highlight that music isn't mere entertainment, but instead is a core feature of human existence with important social implications


Welcome to r/science! This is a heavily moderated subreddit in order to keep the discussion on science. However, we recognize that many people want to discuss how they feel the research relates to their own personal lives, so to give people a space to do that, **personal anecdotes are now allowed as responses to this comment**. Any anecdotal comments elsewhere in the discussion will continue be removed and our [normal comment rules]( https://www.reddit.com/r/science/wiki/rules#wiki_comment_rules) still apply to other comments. *I am a bot, and this action was performed automatically. Please [contact the moderators of this subreddit](/message/compose/?to=/r/science) if you have any questions or concerns.*


As someone who has played in several bands over the years, this makes a lot of sense to me - when you are all in the groove and hit that sweet spot of collaboration (especially during improv), it’s transcendental. There’s no feeling quite like it.


I usually try to get together with the lads once a week to kick up a few jams. Improv is about all we care for these days. You don't always hit the nail on the head, but when things are humming along just right, transcendental is the best way I've heard it described. It's interesting to see an article affirm this feeling, because I've always felt that a good jam brought about some kind of deeper connection with my fellow musicians.


Weekend warrior here. Getting together with my guys and jamming is what keeps me going these days.


Same here fam. Makes life worth living.


I’m ecstatic for rehearsals tonight after last week’s was canceled and I didn’t get my fix!


My partner misses playing guitar, and the only person he found that also plays (so far) was a drug addict. He hasn't picked it up in ages. I wonder if finding someone that plays would inspire him to start again..?


Maybe! The passion can be sort of like a pilot light, always burning though sometimes small. Another guitarist, bassist, drummer, maybe even listening to a new artist can fuel the burner


I just play by myself when I get time. None of my friends here play instruments. I think I fucked up.


Maybe ask a friend or three to try out an instrument, or maybe sing? I don't play much of anything, but I still am able to join in by singing! Haha


I was the drummer for a phenomenal pianist for about 7 years. We parted ways as I had an amazing opportunity but I have never been able to find a connection like we shared. We could communicate emotions back and forth through slight changes in how we played, almost like an intimate language.


Yeah man. It almost like a telepathy of some sort. Like you are sharing some kind of collective head space.


The movie “soul” captured that feeling so accurately. When you’re jamming with others, and everything is lining up just right, it’s like you’re in another world.


I've been meaning to watch that movie


You should, like as soon as you can.


I’ve had this talk with many different musicians I’ve played with. It truly is a high like no other and so many people report it. It’s a mystic connection to the present that feels like total and effortless engagement. So cool that it’s being studied like this!


It's better than sex


When you improv, does one instrument start off and others join in—I’m thinking the percussionist first?


Someone just usually starts playing a lick, then everyone kind of joins in with whatever they were thinking would fit with it. I usually play lead guitar so a lot of times we start with my riffs, and the really special thing about it is that the jam rarely sounds exactly like you imagined. Everyone is just Vibing with their own little contribution and the result a whole new experience. But then you start picking up their vibe too and then you get that crazy, almost telepathic connection with everyone and it's just a truly one-of-a-kind group experience.


Gives me the warm and fuzzies just thinking about it. I used to sit and put a trumpet to my mouth and blow in it in middle school band (saying I played the trumpet would be a travesty). It was an amazing experience at times. I was even moved to (a few) tears at times. Music truly soothes the savage soul.


It’s best to talk about a key/mode before playing. Any instrument can start. Playing along to a recording is also a great warm up to any jam session. When the mp3 ends, just keep going with the same feel and use your ears!


agreed, I'm a mediocre guitar player but have been playing consistently, I want to get better at improving with people


It's basically two parts. The easy part is coming up with riffs and grooves. The tricky part is complementing other parts while following the changes. Playing together, but not on top of one another.


I've been playing guitar by myself for years and years, just singing and playing songs I enjoy by looking up tabs, occasionally writing some stuff and coming up with hooks, chord progressions, etc. I've got decent rhythm and voice at this point, but have almost zero experience playing with others (only some garage band stuff decades ago when I was still a total novice). This article and your comment make me feel like I'm really missing out on a key experience of music. If you don't mind, would you have any specific advice on things to practice in order to prep myself to play with others? I assume nailing down timing via metronome training as well as studying scales and chord progressions would be very important. Anything else, or any specifics on those two areas for an "intermediate" lead guitar player / singer (with many underdeveloped areas)?


Jam with songs. Try to learn chord progressions "live" off of your music library. Figure out how you can cheat when you can't figure out the exact chords ("Well, these two notes are in there at least..."). Find backing tracks. *Make* backing tracks/loops (making loops is great practice for band play). Try different rhythms. Try getting a little riff or line and repeat it, embellish it, change it, feel out what works and what doesn't. Try to solo using just the notes of the chords. Expand from that, solo on the extensions and across the scale. Noodle, but also figure out how to reign the noodling in by really identifying what sounds good, what should be repeated, when to limit rhythmic variation. This one is a little harder for jamming with complete songs, but *focus on what makes the whole sound good*. Is the rhythm super busy? Match it or complement it. Is there a sparse melody? Maybe there's room in the gaps, maybe there's a simple melodic line to complement it. Or just as important, pick up the melody and double it, train that ear and think about the nuances of rests and articulation that make it sing. Just some thoughts from a pianist/keyboardist.


I’m pretty tone deaf and have no idea how to identify what notes/chords are being played at any given time. This often leaves me clueless in a jam session. Any tips on that? Literally every note sounds the same to me and I have no idea how people can pick out what others are playing. Been playing guitar for 20 years.


So, how "literally"? Like, if we're in the key of C and you start jamming on a C#, are you gonna feel that being off? If so, a little theory and tiny bit of strategy can go a long way in terms of identifying a key signature. If you're familiar with how scales add accidentals around the circle of fifths, you can take advantage of the fact that each sharp or flat is "added" in a particular order. * As you go up the circle from the key of C to G, etc., sharps are added as F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#. * As you go down from C to F etc., flats go the other way with Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb. So if that C# sounds off, you can ignore all the "sharps" key signatures above C#. You can also dismiss any of the "flat" key signatures below Db. * F#~~, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#~~ (so this excludes the keys of D, A, E, B, F#) * Bb, Eb, Ab~~, Db, Gb, Cb~~ (excludes the keys of Ab, Db, Gb, Cb) Then you can hone in and try some other accidentals. 3 or 4 strategically bum notes can lead you to exactly the right key signature. I hope that doesn't sound like doing math...when you're really familiar with how the sharps and flats are added, it legitimately does get intuitive. Also, frankly, for a good chunk of music you could narrow this whole conversation down the keys F, C, G, D, A. That's gonna get harder for more harmonically complicated songs...anything " "jazzy" " with a lot of mode switches or accidentals. That's gonna take some theory and, to be honest, probably developing your ear more as possible. But for a lot of popular music, this strategy would get you pretty far.


Thanks! I get theory and the circle of fifths and know how to construct scales, but I don’t know if I can hear if a note is “off”. I understand theory in a book but I’m not great with playing with it on the fly. But your post has given me some ideas. I guess practicing different scales would be the best starting point. My experience with music is mostly picking a scale and writing something in it, but I can’t really spontaneously find scales beyond c, g, or playing the black keys plus c and f.


I used to think I was tone deaf Nd then one day something just clicked and now I can tune by ear even. And tell what key a song is in most times just by fooling around til I find it. I don't have much advice but I've been playing just as long and feel like an infant so just keep trying. A buddy really helped break down a few of the mental walls I was struggling to get past but I'm not articulate enough to explain what really got me there.


My strategy on guitar is to find the pentatonic scale which is fairly easy if you're really familiar with it, and then slowly branch out from there until you figure out the full scale


This is probably way better guitar advice than my little essay on sharps and flats up there. Since scale shapes follow keys on piano, transposition is a whole different task there.


I have been where you are. When I first started, I taught myself to read music and played guitar that way for 3 years. I had friends that played by ear and was envious of their ability. Then I started memorizing intervals by ear. Play a C and then D and memorize that sound. It wasn't long before it all came together for me. You can learn to play by ear. Things will fall into place for you.


I think also beyond all the technical considerations of it, just get together with some other musicians and jam. It may not be pretty but it can do wonders on developing that skill


This is a waaay more good-advice dense comment than mine. Just do it, again and again. And listen closely the whole time.


I think everything you said was perfect as well too, really good stuff. As someone that loves getting technical and breaking things down, I really appreciated what you were saying


Listening to others while you play has been the skill to work on for me. I'd played by myself learning songs I like for years and jamming here and there or teaching others but playing regularly with a drummer has been the next level for me. We have pretty much made it a point to play together almost weekly during the pandemic as both our bubbles have been very small. It has been a life saver for mental health. One thing we always do is end everything with purpose. Learning and developing an unspoken language is huge. We may not play the song well but we'll damn sure nail the ending!


Nothing wrong with 2 or 3 chord jams! I always advocate for it when with a new group. There will be room for other chords after some rapport is built.


This guy jams


Anyone can jam, using whatever they already know. That's not to say that you shouldn't practice and prepare anything; you should definitely work to advance yourself. But even if you learned a new scale/progression/song by yourself today, it's probably not jam-ready. It's like learning a new vocab word and shoving it into conversations: it's clunky and probably doesn't belong. But now you have it, and when you really *need* it, you can use it! The most important thing to train for jamming is your ear. I don't mean learning to identify scales/chords/progressions/whatever. I mean listening to your fellow human, what they're attempting to communicate, and where your voice can fit in with that. Be kind to them and co-operate. I'm talking about the emotional, mushy side of music. After you've learned to listen to others, learn to listen to yourself, and treat your playing with the same kindness and, perhaps more importantly, *playfulness* that you show others. Pick two notes. Play them. Play them with good feel and solid rhythm. Change up the feel. Make them sharper with more staccato, or add some shakiness to them, or experiment with the rhythm. Add another note. See what happens. This is all coming from a musician who has some barebones classical training, but really learned the most from jamming with others. I've mostly jammed freeform (not over any specific changes or songs), and a good way to start is with simplicity. The guitar is such a versatile jam instrument, you can do anything with it. You don't even need to start out by plucking a note. Just tap the body if that's what you feel. The thing about jams is the most impressive stuff is almost always simple. Part of that is because you're all playing together, so giving others room to play and not crowding the space is never a bad call. I've always been the worst musician in the room, but I've gotten a lot of respect from the people I've jammed with because I played something that, though uncomplicated, was fun... for everyone involved. If you want to hear someone talk about this better than me, look up Victor Wooten on YouTube, especially his talks. He's a bassist, and bassists are really good at playing with other people. And Victor Wooten is a really, *really* good bassist. Basically, you can jam! Yes, you! Play what feels good. If it doesn't feel good, if it feels stressful or difficult, consider not playing it and working on it on your own time. EDIT: On Mistakes. Mistakes are how jams happen. It's what keeps them alive and breathing. Make as many mistakes as you can, as often as you can, and don't be upset with yourself. Remember that it's a jam, so there's only one rule: have fun. If you're upset with yourself, you're breaking the rule.


I think the biggest thing is to attempt to find people who you get along with outside of music, and who are at an approximately similar talent/experience level. A lot of times that’s easier said than done, but in my experience I’ve had some people who were virtuosos compared to me that “played down” to my level and thus elevated my material. At the end of the day I don’t think it really matters - you could literally play the same chord over and over, and let the other people jam over it, or vice versa. Music is a living thing, and once you get on its wavelength it kind of pulls you along rather than the other way around.


Try improvising along with backing tracks and recording what you play. Timing isn’t as essential. When you’re starting out with others, they don’t expect you to be a guitar god, and you shouldn’t put that on yourself either. Playing along with backing tracks will help you with timing. Millions are available on youtube, though many are hokey “12 bar blues in e.” However, recording what you play and listening back can help you to point out problems you may have glossed over when you were jamming out. It might also help you discover your vocabulary… and when you might need to expand it.


There's a lot of great advise here but honestly I think the most important is to not over-think it and just find some people to jam with. You'll figure it out what you need to practice on a lot quicker that way. Even if you don't really click or enjoy playing with the group, you will still gain valuable experience that will help you with the next group you join. Source: Another fellow bedroom guitarist that recently started jamming with others for the first time. :)


Good point. I'm a bit of a perfectionist so any kind of "big choice" or change often leads me to a bit of analysis paralysis (ie "am I really ready for this?" or "is this the right group to play with, what if we don't mesh together well?"). Perfection is the enemy of good, one bird in hand is worth two in the bush, etc!


Be easy to work with and show up (don’t flake/cancel). Those are key lessons that too many musicians miss out on. There’s no standard to say you’re ready, you just have to start doing it. That said, if you want something to practice that will make it easier, work on picking out vocal harmonies quickly and reliably. Nothing breaks the ice better than piping in with a great harmony and making somebody else sound great.


Not OP, and not directly answering your question… but if you’re a decent lead guitarist I would suggest finding a 3 piece looking for a lead, and walk right on into their practice space without even remotely worrying about the things you mentioned above. As long as they’re playing a type of music that even remotely interests you, you should just be able to jump right in and have a blast. As someone mentioned above, not every part of every practice is going to be amazing but that goes for everyone involved, not just the new guy.


> not every part of every practice is going to be amazing but that goes for everyone involved, not just the new guy. That's an important piece I can lose sight of sometimes. I have perfectionist tendencies if I don't check myself, which really kills my own joy and I'm sure other people's as well.


Think about how you would want someone to complement your playing and try to do that. Like the article talks about empathy, you're really putting yourself in others' shoes to serve their musical ideas, and vice versa. If you're a singer guitarist, you'll probably want to play rhythm when you sing, so work on accompanying yourself. Identify the 5-10 songs or riffs you're ready to bring to a jam. Try other peoples' ideas. Jamming always exposes you to players outside your preferred genres. I like to be able to go from rock, to bluegrass, to R&B and folk. They all utilize different techniques that are fun to explore and make you a well-rounded player.


You are definitely missing something, that you need to play with people. The only kind of solo studying that really prepares you for improv jamming on a general level is learning to play by ear. Listen and try to play along with songs without learning from tab, mostly blues and straightforward rock (avoid jazz for now). Figuring out a riff is easy, just try every note until you play the right one. Guess with confidence, correct when you get it wrong, over time your guesses will get better and better, and within a shockingly small amount of time you'll actually be able to repeat riffs by ear. With chords it helps to be able to recognise standard open chords, and figure out power chords the same way as riffs. With that you've covered nearly all rock music.


There’s some good replies here already. I’ll just add that the least obvious but most valuable thing being in a band has taught me is when NOT to play. The spaces in music can be just as affecting as the fuller bits when it’s done right. Leaving your instrument unplayed sometimes makes it more impactful when you DO play. If you only play 40% of the time, but play that 40% thoughtfully and purposefully, it will be better than an entire song’s worth of filler any day! Especially easy to forget if you’re used to playing alone. Remember that you have other musicians, and you are all playing a song TOGETHER. Listen to the song you’re playing. Again: LISTEN to the song you’re playing. Play what will make the song sound good, not what will make YOU sound good. And gawdammit, have fun!!


Metronomes are very fashionable but I think the thing that makes jamming with people fun is that they are not metronomes. Depends on the music I guess. Hendrix timing changed all the time. 80s music with drum machines doesn't.


I just experienced this, at 49, to a degree that I had never experienced. It’s like a drug. In fact I had to put my guitar down because I was almost shaking.


Transendental. Not hardly in control anymore, floating on a river with your fingers dabbling in the flow, like an out of body experience.


I play trumpet, trombone and drums in orchestras and jazz bands in many gigs and different settings throughout my life. Its so hard to explain to beginners how music can make them feel when they get really good and are on point with the score or whatever piece they're playing. Sometimes a chord locks and rings beautifully; you can viscerally feel the literal vibrations reverberating through your head and body; its an understatement if I told you it felt orgasmic. Im so glad I grew up in a semi musical family and was taught to learn an instrument when I was young because I seriously think it has been one of the best things for the development of my well being.


Exactly - fellow trombone here. The amazing and related thing is when everyone has rehearsed the piece enough and eventually you hit a point where everyone...just...clicks. The point where the conductor just stops conducting and tells you to keep going and the whole ensemble is acting autonomously as one collective body. That right there is my drug of choice. (I literally got goosebumps just thinking back to some of the groups I've played with - I miss playing)


And as someone who grew up singing in church, I know what a hole is left when you stop singing with other people.


This is something that has been particularly hard for me during the pandemic.


I feel ya. This is something that has been particularly hard for me since leaving the church 10 years ago.


20 years ago here. I once sang with other members in an area called The Holy of Holies in a temple: I was certain my heart would explode from the moment. I took 8 years to grieve losing the church, but the absolute worst part has always been losing the music.


(fwiw I didn’t grow up singing in church) *though,* **I hear you** ಠᴗಠ


Haha yeah dude! And you all look at each other playing whilst smiling and nodding your head!


Its more than that to me. When you’re jamming with people you are sharing and building off of each other’s motifs as if it is a language in itself. When we speak we take turns one at a time. When we play music its like we are talking over each other but it works as a group speaking collectively instead of separately as an incomprehensible mess.


I often compare improv to surfing with my students. You’re not always going to find the line, even though it might sound ok, but when you hit it right and everybody lands deep in the pocket the whole world clicks into place.


I just copied this comment into my notes on my phone so I never lose it. Love that analogy.


harmony is my favourite musical element for sure


So the opposite of “speaking in tongues?”


Yeah I could live in those moments forever tbh


Yes! My buddy is coming over tonight to jam, this has me pumped!


It sounds cheesy, but I always say it's better than any drug.


I akin it to syncing with the universe.. and as one with the universe you are but an extension.. and as that extension you are reaching out with a pure tentacle of pure truth.. as music IMHO *is* the language of the birds.. it's a perfect language.. as it taps into meaning, math, beauty, and a hyperaware and physically in tune.. and undeniably real ; experience. It both calls to us from the depths of history and pleads us to hold the entire future in one verse. And often it accomplishes it. Nothing humanity is capable of is as perfect and true... Just listen to fur Elise.. listen to the infinity. That pure burning love for what is.. what could be.. what has been.. Now make that real. No intention nor action is so pure.


I think this is pretty spot on. It makes me think of what John Lennon said about writing Across the Universe: “I don’t own it, you know; it came through like that.”


Or from the venerable Capt. Beefheart *"It's a shame people have to pay for my music because where I got it from was free"* Weirdly unattributed though. Can't find the source but it's always stuck with me whoever said it


Damn, I wish I had literally any musical talent or understanding at all. This feeling will always elude me.


It’s probably not even close to the real thing but I always remember having a blast playing rock band with friends. For those not familiar, it’s a rhythm [videogame](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_Band) where you play with controllers shaped as instruments. When you have a streak going on the drums with friends you just get ecstatic.


Rock Band taught me how to play drums in real life. The feeling of everyone on RB getting 100% together is a small hint of what that groove is in a real band.


It's such a wonderful feeling when you all get in sync.


There's a fantastic, lengthy short story that describes this phenomenon called Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin. It's awesome.


I'm a church musician and I'd be interested in seeing if there's a difference between religious people playing religious music together and secular people playing secular music together. Not because I think one is necessarily better, but I've done both and I personally approach them differently. So I wonder if the brain chemistry would be different for musicians doing both. Like would we be able to see that?


As a Christian who plays in a secular band, and has performed with my church, there is a large difference, at least for me. I LOVE secular music. I really don't like gospel at all. In fact, if in heaven that's all there is, then it's hell for me. I can't stand gospel music. Most of it is utter crap. Poorly written songs with boring melodies. So my Brian chemistry would show aversion and boredom while playing gospel, and would light up while playing secular music. Basically, it's still down to the individual. You've got to appreciate what you're playing for that "high" to work.


Do you think Brian can teach me chemistry as well? Heyoooo


I think one possible difference would be the audience engagement. In a church band, there’s already a bit of freedom given over from the audience and they are engaged cause they are their for the spirit, not just the music, or both since it’s intertwined. Where with non-church music, that engagement and psychic interaction has to be earned by the band themselves. I’d say there are probably a lot more similarities once there, but getting there is the difference.


Yeah there may be a similar reason teenage girls start crying.


What do you mean by secular music? Just non-religious themed music? Honestly I don't see why there would be a difference, they're the same humans feeling the same things.


Well, the study is about the effect on the brain of the musicians playing the music. I can't speak for anyone else but when I approach religious music at my church I am thinking about how I present myself and less about the music. I'm not flippant but it's a different approach. While I'm playing at church I have feelings of something greater out there bigger than myself, bigger than the room I'm inhabiting. But when I played at bars I thought more about the music and was less introspective. I was more focused on making sure I was on point with transitions and dynamics. I didn't have feelings about anything bigger than the room I was in. I was solely focused on that room. I don't want or expect results one way or another - I'm just interested to see them.


I’ve never been able to learn how to improv. Got any recommended you channels I could check out?


A real turning point for me, when it comes to improvising, was getting a looper pedal for my guitar. They can be used for essentially any other instrument, as long as it has a mic. Also, many electric pianos/keyboards have inbuilt chord progressions to loop. Or just search youtube for any chord progression and play over that. Starting with simple progressions of two or three simple minor or major chords is smart. Don't make it too hard for yourself. The key of the song/chord progression is often the first chord of the progression (but not always) or the one that has the most time ringing, if that makes sense. Find that, and play the notes of that scale. E.g. if it's E major, play the notes in E major over the loop. Then, try adding notes from the other chords and their scales from time to time. Landing on the root note of the "key" often feels rewarding. Playing notes of a specific scale on top of it's chord often sounds good. Some notes may sound a bit funky, but if it did slund funky, you learned to perhaps avoid that specific note with that specific chord progression. Important note: lot's of different notes one after the other is not the goal. Try finding, for instance, three notes that sound great with your chord progression and play with those. Adjusting the length, volume and other aspects of HOW you play those notes. Those three notes are then a good homebase, from where to add little additional new spicy notes in the kettle. For me learning what sounded good came along by just playing the chords themselves and adding notes to them, realizing which sounded good with which chords. There lie the scales them selves. The notes of the chords of a song or a jam give you a baseline, on which you can add more. If it sounds good, it's good. Learning what type of chord each note of a major scale represents is a good theory starting point. I suggest watching some videos of Rick Beato, he has good videos about music theory (I don't know how deep your knowledge of music theory is, I'm no expert anyway). Also, as the blessed Youtube algorithm starts offering you new people explaining things, dive in. Hearing different explanations and descriptions of things is great. Some people's explanations can be wildly better for you. Don't worry about understanding everything at once, learning music is a process like any other skill. For me it is perhaps the most revarding one. Just keep looking and tring and learning and failing and having fun. My whole point is, get a looper and play your own chird progressions or just find one on youtube (there are endless choices) and start playing along. It has helped me immensely, and it is fun as hell. I do it every day, pretty much. Trio Band Creator pedal is what I use, it can also generate a bass line and drum line on top of your progression. I hope this helped. I hope you have fun, buddy.


I don’t, sorry. The best I can tell you is to work on scales - once you learn a few you’ll be able to hold your own in most improv settings.


For me it was almost telepathic. I knew what was coming before we got there and I’m sure the other band mates could feel it too. That’s what I love most about playing live with other players.


I've been waiting for a multiplayer music game for years now. The only things that come close are FUSER (co-op DJing game with limited functionality), multiplayerpiano.com, and those weird HTML5/Flash-esque web games that lock you into pentatonic scale that no one ever plays. This world really needs an online co-op music collaboration game. It would have helped massively during pandemic lockdown the past year.


The problem is latency. Any delay over the internet and you are not going to be in time with each other. Even top quality internet has too much lag.


Yup. That's how you know the jam is going well. You improv on a song for so long it's not even the same song anymore by the end.


And this is why I started learning guitar about 6 months ago. I'm 37 (late starter, I know) but I used to play trumpet in school and always regretted not keeping up with music. Better late than never though! I've gotten that rush feeling when filming projects and you see the final product, but music was something else.




Thank you for sharing this - I concur!


Related, there have been so many times where everybody in my band fucks up at the same time. Sometimes it’s like a quick chain reaction, but many times it’s all at once at some random point in a song we know well. Also, I’d be interested in seeing how this applies to an audience. A crowd that’s really into it seems like they join in to the band hive mind in some way.


I've had a feeling this is what happens in church and it has been used to make people feel good in church for thousands of years: singing together makes people feel on a different level.


Took the words right out of my mouth. I didn’t know that it was even a thing, but I do recall a moment when we as a band just dropped into jam (improv) and it was more like an out of body experience or riding the perfect wave. I did realize it was happening and how fragile it was that at any moment it could fall apart. Again, I didn’t know it was something that could happen and it was an experience I won’t forget. Ps I always pictured the scene from Raiders of the lost arc ,before the face melt scene, when the “lightning” surges through each soldier. I’m glad to catch this post and remember that and learn I’m not the only one to experience this! Cheers all


And it's addictive.


The Grateful Dead!


Came here to say something similar. I think your words probably better.


Me and none of my friends could play an instrument but we grew up “freestyle” rapping. We’d even beatbox a beat. Like each person would do a simple drum or melody and one would make up lyrics and we’d rotate between the instrumental and lyrics. It’s hard to describe the connection you make with some after years of improve music.


In a rehearsal for a big show we had a lot of bands back stage. Someone started playing Marilyn Manson's Sweet Dreams on the piano. It was very popular at the time and everyone just started in. We had a full choir going and everything. Electric guitars, drums, full orchestra band. It was amazing. I can say that I've honestly been somewhere where a large crowd actually broke out in to song:)


I.e. the disco biscuits (not the drug, the band) right now, they're absolutely killing it every show


Literally the best feeling in my life was playing in front of a crowd in a band 10ish years ago, good times man.


I used to say, you never really knew a person until you've played music with them. I spent a few years in a couple of bands and it was always cool to breakthrough into new territory for our sound/ability. There was something about their inputs that would lead me to a new sound/melody. It said more than words ever could.


It’s a language unto itself.


You mean sort of like, really good sex and getting a nice sense of dopamine and oxytocin while on drugs? Cause that's what it sounds like to me.


This guy jams.


Yup. When you improv into weird town and explore it for a bit, and then everyone just knows when to *click* back into the head/groove... Chefs kiss. Better than sex.


I feel that in sports, maybe it's not music. Maybe is just teamwork what makes you feel great.


I play the drums and have played in a band (both seriously and as a hobby) since I was in high school. For several reasons it has always been a massive mental health benefit to me. There is nothing I’ve experienced quite like when the ensemble all locks in without even looking at each other. It’s like psychic magic is moving my limbs. Edited-spelling


Also a drummer, I can relate so hard to this! Its a huge help for my mental health too and tbh it feels meditative. It forces me to stay present, and to notice things other people are playing and respond appropriately. I have really bad social anxiety but when I get on a stage I can almost forget the audience exists and just lose myself in my own playing and the constant collaboration.


It’s your subconscious minds directly communicating with each other, it really is quite a thing






Music is a tool that has accompanied our evolutionary journey and provided a sense of comfort and social connection for millennia. New research published today in the American Psychologist provides a neuroscientific understanding of the social connection with a new map of the brain when playing music. A team of social neuroscientists from Bar-Ilan University and the University of Chicago introduced a model of the brain that sheds light on the social functions and brain mechanisms that underlie the musical adaptations used for human connection. The model is unique because it focuses on what happens in the brain when people make music together, rather than when they listen to music individually. The research was inspired by creative efforts of people around the world to reproduce music-making together while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. This included people singing songs in unison from balcony to balcony, group singing on video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, and live living room concerts by the likes of Yo Yo Ma, Chris Martin from Coldplay, and Norah Jones. The team fused the latest advances in social neuroscience and the field of music, including evolutionary theory. They synthesized these advances and highlighted five key functions and mechanisms of the brain that contribute to social connection through music. These are (1) empathy circuits, (2) oxytocin secretion, (3) reward and motivation, including dopamine release, (4) language structures, and (5) cortisol. These five functions and mechanisms involve at least 12 important brain regions and two pathways which are mapped here. https://doi.apa.org/fulltext/2021-55326-001.html


I think that this scientifically formatted letter isn't really research they basically made a picture compiling other peoples research showing that the brain does stuff when encountering a stimulus. It is a half assed review paper that is written for media outlets. It's not that they are wrong about anything they just didn't do anything themselves nor even put the old together in an insightful way. It basically just identifies parts of the brain other people have done work identifying as related to musical stimuli. They don't test any hypothesis or do any experiments. Their conclusion is basically just that people like listening/making music and the brain controls that. There is a portion of the population with Musical anhedonia, people that aren't emotional simulated by music. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical\_anhedonia](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical_anhedonia) This scientifically formatted letter doesn't discuss this extremely useful group for music research nor even the similarity of music production to basic communication. This came out more aggressive than I intended, but I don't see what the new contribution of this paper is.


Spot on.


The last 15 months have been hard for me, for this reason.


I wish non-musicians could experience the nirvana-esque experience of jamming with others when everything is going perfectly. There is nothing else like it. You just get lost in it. It's absolutely magical.


Every person should take a run at playing an instrument. Drives me nuts thinking about how much awesome music we are missing out on because most people are too afraid to suck/try. You don't have to be super talented to make appreciable music. Get a keyboard and just hunt and peck. Get a guitar and learn 5 open chords. Good to go.


I learned music for years because it was a school requirement. Always hated it. I simply moved my fingers in the right way to make the right noises. I was even first seat in the band. But I don't really like music. I quit as soon as I could.


Non musician here. Ive just started learning the uke. There's a whole new feeling there I've missed my entire life and trying to articulate what it is has been really hard. I'm loving it


I was just about to recommend ukulele for musical newbies! Low barrier to entry, very forgiving, and so so so much fun. It has brought me so much joy!


They can. Just find some crystal woowoo people and join a drum circle. This is what they're all about.


Spot on


Although I'm not a musician, I love to dance. And I can see a lot of parallels between making music with other people and dancing with other people. I'm a member of an ecstatic dance group and I continuously have that feeling of transcendence when I can improvise with a fellow dancer. Like you said, everything goes so smoothly, it's like youre taken out of your body and the two separate people enter into a harmonious flow as one. It's completely divine. Ive found it to be an excellent trading ground of sorts for relationships across the board. It allows me to move more freely and connect more openly with ALL kinds of people. I don't know who I would be without it.


I've never understood it but I've described it since my first band 20 years ago when we accidentally stumbled into playing our piece together that connected musically. Whatever it is, it's one of the deepest connections I've ever made with other human beings. The most joyous thing I've ever encountered is the laughter of my little boy. But if I'm talking top three, playing music with other people is an easy second place. I just can't describe what an experience it is especially when you're doing it for an audience together and the audience is receptive to what you're putting out. It's an incredible feeling.


As a music teacher, I cannot stress enough how important music is. I can’t really help but be bias, but it is such an important part of connection and emotion. I mean the Greeks and other ancient societies put music alongside science and math. It is a very strange concept to some, but some cultures, like most African cultures, they make music just another part of life. Everyone participates in music making. In a nation like the US, we have made music a separate entity. In other cultures it is just a part of their society. They don’t really think of it as separate, it is just what they do. Anyways, I could go on and on about this. But the fine arts needs a complete overhaul in the US, especially since we are seeping with creativity. It’s a complete shame that the education system, and our culture in general, puts music as an extra curricular rather than an important part of being a human.


I was incredibly fortunate to go to a fine arts high school that was just that - everyone was expected to at least dabble in every art, so although I was on the music track, I still took a dance class, a beginner's art class, and drama class, and several writing classes. It should be the norm like that in *every* school.


If you look at composers throughout history, or any major figure in fine arts, you almost always find that they participate in other forms of fine art as well. It was not uncommon for composers to be performers and painters


I honestly hate how STEM and business focused our education has become in the US. It's obviously much more complicated, but it feels like we've created a society where the only degree and education worth getting is one that makes you money I'm not saying people who pick those majors are only doing it for money, but those who don't pick those majors are generally seen as wasting their time and money


Our society is very work based whether we like to think about it that way or not. That leaves us with no room, or, really, no desire to pursue the arts. It is extremely common in European countries for adults to keep participating in community based ensembles for music just for fun. However, in the US, we commonly stop participating in music because it has no benefit to our work life. It is very unfortunate that we don’t have more community ensembles. In the US, we also always strive for perfection instead of fun. So if community ensembles aren’t always that good, why would we want them?


America worships the idea of work to the exclusion of all else, it's honestly sickening. I only got a single year of music class growing up, i got just enough to know it could be fun and absolutely no follow up, it was just terrible.


I dont understand why I would need music as part of my education though. I'm not American, and in my country music was one of the required subjects you had to do. We were taught music theory, how to play instruments, different genres etc... and I hated every minute of it. I had no interest in taking part of the activities, and honestly just wanted to study maths and history, because that's what I enjoyed. Nowadays I have music I like to listen to, and I have an electronic keyboard I play on sometimes. But these are interests I developed after I graduated, on my own. You can't force art through school. If people like something they will discover it and do it in their own time.


And that’s completely understandable! Not everyone will enjoy it and that is ok. In the US we make every elementary student take music. There are plenty of students who don’t enjoy it. The goal is to make everyone at least appreciate and dabble in music since it is such an ingrained part of society. I mean music is everywhere! If anything, music in schools is just to get people knowledgeable about it just like what any other class is for. Music is also unique in that in encompasses many subjects in one. History, language, and math are all a part of music. It’s alright if it wasn’t for you! It could’ve been that your teacher wasn’t the best either! I’m glad you’re playing now though and found a new love for it!


Yeah maybe. The first music teacher I ever had was a very scary, stern older man. I saw the movie whiplash a few years ago, and J.K. Simmons character reminded me a lot of of this teacher. He wouldn't actually beat kids (that would be illegal) but it always felt like the threat was there. My later teachers were better, but perhaps the damage was already done.


It is quite possible! I am glad you still make music regardless though


I definitely get where you are coming from, and I'm sorry you had such a rough teacher. Like any other topic, there are both good and bad teachers in the field. There are a gajillion stories of people hating a topic until they found a teacher that they clicked with. If you ever feel inclined to try out a new instrument or singing, or whatever, take some time to try out different instructors and such and see if you can find someone that you click with a bit better. The right teacher will make the entire experience infinitely better.


It's very conversational, I always liken music to language. Improvising music, it just seems to be the most therapeutic thing I have ever experienced, in terms of bringing out emotions that I personally csnt express using words


And ironically, jazz is one of the most conversational and emotional forms of instrumental music. It is one of the very few genres of music created in the US and it is dying rapidly too. We need a revival of jazz!


As a grammar nazi I can't really help but to point out that you can't "be bias" since "bias" is a noun or a verb, whereas "biased" is an adjective, which is something you can be.


What about this one... As a drummer playing at a concert with your band, that feeling you get with your mic’d up bass drum causing the entire crowd to bob their heads. I get such a high from that feeling, it’s like you can control hundreds of people with just your foot tapping. It is magical.


I used to drum for a polynesian dance group. Seeing dancers performing to a group of drummers you're a part of is a feeling like no other!


Yeah, there must be something instinctually about drumming, music and dancing. I’m betting that cavemen had these same feelings when they were drumming thousands or millions of years ago. It really does feel primal and just feels good. Weird


A similar feeling is why live sound engineers love their jobs.


Damn I’m tearing up and getting goosebumps just imagining that. What a beautiful beautiful thing music is, in our otherwise mundane existence!


Nobody tell any corporations that music is necessary for human existence. I'm sure there's a r/scificoncepts about corporations encrypting music. The only way you could listen to any music would be through a registered decryption chip implanted in your brain or ear. If you don't pay then you will hear nothing but white noise when you listen to the radio or Spotify. It would be like image blurring but for music.


Don't give them ideas.


Except almost anyone can learn to play an instrument in a few years. If corporations locked all the existing catalogs down, anyone who *really* wanted music could make it themselves. And modern software makes it so anyone can record and mix themselves whiteout too much learning. Plus, take away all the top artists and then are millions more that will scramble to get into place. The bench is deep.


Unless instruments are made illegal. New band name idea...”Black Market Guitars”


The US does not even have the political will to make carrying an assault gun into a grocery store illegal. Nothing like musical instruments will ever be illegal.


Yeah, but musicians aren't really threatening/willing to murder police over it. I mean, realistically, we'd probably just leave.


Or you can just make your own music!


Oh god what bleak future this is becoming. Monetized emotions. I don’t wanna be around for that.


Disconnect from social media.


*so he says through social media*




And you dont have to, for a mere 199$ yearly you can enjoy our basic selection like Happy music, personalized propaganda and joyful commercials! Our premium selection starts at just 2499$ yearly and will allow limited feelings of love, 2hour propaganda free music (terms apply) and with upto 8weeks yearly of non-monetized sleep!


There are cultures where music is taboo and they do fine. Music isn't necessary for human existance at all.


Nobody tell everyone they didn't exist before spotify.


nobody tell RedRedditor84 that music existed before spotify


Ok... This has nothing to do with the article.


Damn all the research being done now on this and the actual results coming out would have made my senior thesis a much easier paper to write But this has always been an incredibly fascinating topic for me... and gives a pathway for using music in treatment of neurodegenerative diseases


Music therapy is a thing. I've met a few practitioners.


It's all about resonance - something Tesla was very much into. There's an interesting book called, "The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe".


Another good one is, “This is Your Brain on Music” by Daniel Levitin


Thank you for this recommendation!


> There's an interesting book called, "The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe". Thanks for the recommendation! edit: just ordered it on ebay, $5.75 shipped!


What a great share. My musician buds and I are having a great time discussing this paper on WhatsApp. Even the lit review is so much fun. An eg: "More than a century later, Miller (2000) expanded Darwin’s theory about music and specified that music can signal “sexual fitness” to potential mates by transmitting information about coordination, strength, health, and intelligence. Miller suggested that this phenomenon still exists today, as evidenced by virtuosic performances of music and dance that require the ability for well-rehearsed and well-coordinated performances. Such performances signal information to others about the performer’s motor abilities and capacity for learning, which are attractive qualities for a potential mate." I now understand a lot of things.


You mean you now understand why your drummer had 17 girlfriends in one year?


I wonder what the effect could be in cultures where music is forbidden.


Music is one of the most interesting things on the planet. It’s so strange only humans seem to have a connection to music this deeply.


That's what happens when your over-evolved monkey brain is obsessed with finding patterns


I don't know... cockatoos seem to vibe pretty hard


I've always been with men who were interested in sports/video games. My bf now is the first musically inclined person I've been with and it. is. AWESOME. We're both singers. He is far more talented than I in that he is able to make up his own harmonies on the spot. Everytime a song comes on we both know, he'll bust out some harmony to match my/the original artist's melody. It's incredible the connection you get with someone in those moments..


a favorite memory of mine was in college when i lived with a bunch of friends. After sitting around watching tv someone started drumming on a book and before long we all were drumming, clapping, and singing a primal chant for a good ten minutes. Very nice


I was out camping with some friends this weekend and got to hear several species of small furry animals gathered together in a cave and grooving with a pict.


Playing music with other people can be a transcendental experience. It's at least as good as sex when done right.


So linguistically speaking it’s similar to deixis. Psycholinguistics studies have been done showing similar effects with deictics and the brain.


Pepe Le Pew told us a long time ago about the benefits of "making sweet music together".


Societies that still operate in the hunt-and-gather and/or agricultural paradigm evidence music integration with essentially every sphere of life. Sometimes they don't even have a separate term for music, such as with the Kpelle people in West Africa.


It’s such a beautiful thing when multiple humans can come together and create such wonderful sounds and tunes. There’s nothing like the natural sound and vibes a live band makes!


Actual findings of the study: various neural changes occur while making music Ridiculous title claim: making music is a core feature of human existence Me: I guess I was built without that feature


> Ridiculous title claim: making music is a core feature of human existence The *point* of the study is that there's a unique mix of physiological changes that occur when humans make music together. Your anecdotal experience does not negate the findings of the study.


The study and its findings are accurate; the title of this post is not. In fact I believe the title of this post is a direct violation of the rules of this sub because it was editorialized.


Damn, I’m a musician myself and those comments are really tearing me up. As much as I enjoy making my solo stuff, playing live with a band is just something else.


The sample of this was 26 people


It's a shame so many things like this are a stigma in society. You're not allowed to just play music, you need to get a job like everyone else and barely have time for it.


"Without music, life would be a mistake." Nietzsche


Thank you for sharing this!


I don't know nothin about brains but I know how good it feels when everyone is vibin together onstage. Nothin beats that feelin, especially if the crowd is into what y'all are puttin down.


Entertainment also isn't mere entertainment, but instead is a core feature of human existence with important social implications


Music is the most important thing in existence.


As a musician, I’ve always maintained that creating music with others feels more personal and intimate than sex to me. I’m glad to hear there’s a scientific reason for that feeling.


I wrote a violin quartet this weekend by myself, writing and playing and recording each part and putting it all together using a digital audio workstation on my computer...so did I make music with myself? Cause I felt pretty proud of myself afterward.


You did make music all by yourself - congrats on that for sure but that's not what this article is about. If this was about the social implications of having sex, would you be evaluating the importance of masturbation?