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Music Psychology: Why Does "Bohemian Rhapsody" Feel so Good?

Explore music psychology and find out why music can make us feel, by analysing Queen's famous song, "Bohemian Rhapsody".

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Blissed out girl listening to music
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Toe-tapping and hair-raising: discover the power of music

Some songs make us laugh and some songs make us cry, but why does music have the ability to affect us emotionally?

On this course, you’ll learn about music psychology and how our emotions work, by analysing Queen’s famous song, “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

You’ll find out how the mind interprets patterns in music and generates an emotional response as a result.

You’ll explore how music communicates with the brain’s reward centre, and generates a chemical reaction that can provide a feeling of happiness.

Finally, you’ll discover why emotional experiences are influenced by our own expectations.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 2 seconds [PIANO MUSIC PLAYING]

Skip to 0 minutes and 17 seconds Some hit songs are forgotten within six months. But other songs have more staying power. Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen is one of those songs. It was a hit not only in 1975 when it was first released, but again in 1992. And in the last decade, covers of the song by everyone from Panic at the Disco to the Muppets have also hit the charts. Hi. I’m Dr. Tim Byron and I’m a music psychologist. And I teach at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. This is one of Australia’s leading music and performing arts schools, offering a wide variety of specialist degrees from classical music, jazz, opera, popular music, to musical theatre, acting, music technology, and music education.

Skip to 1 minute and 4 seconds This course aims to explain the processes by which the sounds that come into your ear when you play the song are turned into a feeling of satisfaction when it gets to your favourite part of the song. We’re going to try and answer some of the big questions about music from a psychological angle. Why does the song feel so good to me? Why do vibrations of the air, sounds in other words, turn into emotions? We will explore what goes into feeling emotions and what goes into listening to music. And then we’ll examine how these processes work together to give you the thrill of listening to a great song.

What topics will you cover?

  • Why does music make us feel things?
  • Why do we feel things in the first place? What are emotions and moods, exactly?
  • How do emotions work?
  • What is it about music that makes us feel things? How do musicians set up expectations?
  • Why should they make you expect anything? How do different expectations lead to emotions?

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What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore the psychology of emotions as they relate to music
  • Explain the basis by which music manipulates our expectations of music to evoke emotions
  • Reflect on how musical emotional experiences are influenced by our differing expectations in specific musical examples

Who is the course for?

This course is open to anyone interested in music psychology, but may be of particular interest to songwriters and composers.

Who will you learn with?

I teach the course Music, Mind and Brain at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. My background is as a research psychologist, looking at how the mind processes music.

I am a pianist and a violinist and have a background in psychology. I've been fascinated with how music effects our brains and emotions since I was a teenager, so much so that I did a PhD about it!

Who developed the course?

Griffith University

Griffith University was created to be a different kind of university—challenging conventions, responding to trends and pioneering solutions through innovative teaching and research.

  • Established

    1971
  • Location

    Queensland, Australia
  • World ranking

    Top 210Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021
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