I experience this all of the time, ALL of the time. I find music that moves me in a most profound way: What Happens in the Brain When Music Causes Chills?

Once, I would have been surprised that EVERYONE did not experience this, until I saw this article from a couple years ago: The Actual Neuroscience Behind Why Some People Don’t Like Music, something called musical anhedonia.

But the subtitle of the story about that first story is “The brains of people who get chills when the right song comes on are wired differently than others.” So it could be all of God Only Knows by the Beach Boys, or the guitar solo at the end of Let’s Go Crazy by Prince, that will take me to another plane.

I saw the movie West Side Story when I was 10 or 11, and it was the music bit at the very end – go to the 4 minute mark here – that absolutely devastates me EVERY TIME I hear it. EVERY TIME. Of course, this comes from what takes place before.

I’ve described in detail how the Adagio in G Minor, attributed to Albinoni leaves me weeping, EVERY TIME.

I was really taken by 10,000 singing Beethoven – Ode an die Freude (Ode to Joy). What it lacks in polish, it more than makes up for in pure love.

Sometimes, it’s a lyric that will combine with the music. Listen to Finlandia, for instance:
This is my song, O God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is,
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine.
But other hearts in other lands are beating,
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
And sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
A song of peace for their land and for mine.

In what we call classical music, particularly in organ music, it’s often the chords that resolve the piece that feel like the power chords at the end of a rock song. Listen to Digital Fox, organ music of the late Virgil Fox on a CD I own. Note the endings of most of the pieces, but especially J.S. Bach: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (0:00:00), J. Alain: Litanies (0:38:05) and C.M. Widor: Toccata from the Fifth Symphony (0:42:25), which I first heard at my graduation from library school.

This list of music that moves me doesn’t even scratch the surface.


ABC Wednesday – Round 19

19 Responses to “M is for music that moves me”

  • leslie says:

    Guess we are wired the same way and it runs in the family….?

  • Vicki says:

    I get chills from Christian music. I don’t think any secular music has ever given me chills.

  • CGHill says:

    +1, or +several, for the West Side Story reference. It is the aural equivalent of the “There Is Still Time … Brother” banner at the end of On the Beach.

    If you ever want to see me hyperventilate, crank up the last half of the third movement of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3. I first discovered this piece as a byproduct of The Competition (1980), starring Richard Dreyfuss and Amy Irving as competing pianists. Irving (or her stand-in, Grace Gardener) gets to pantomime, very convincingly, her way through the major sections of the Third, and the ending did something to my heart rate I’d never anticipated. Still does, 36 years later.

    (Pertinent clip:

  • Wow Roger,
    We have almost identical feelings about certain pieces of Music,
    I am a great lover of sacred music and works, I adore the Beach Boys.
    I loved most of the music in Westside story but thought the story line
    rather letmit down…There’s a Place for us…. heart wrenching…Bach’s Toccatta..
    Ode to Joy. for 10.000 voices and so on!
    Bes regards,
    ABCW team.

  • Rajesh says:

    They are all really beautiful music.

  • Nonnie says:

    If by chills, you mean goose bumps, then I am in that group. My momma and I would listen to music late at night, just the two of us. So I love music from the 1930s- jazz and soulful music, from the 1940s- Big Bands and she learned to appreciate Rock and Roll. College music appreciation brought me to love classical music. I love that most of your posts for ABC have to do with music. Sometimes I learn and many times your post sparks warm memories.

  • ellen b says:

    Well I’m older than you since I saw Westside Story when I was a teen. Music speaks to me at my deepest needs and joys…

  • Music to me is one of ‘my best friends’ ~ feeds my soul ~ Another very informative post ~ filled with knowledge and inspiration!

    Wishing you a Happy Week ^_^

  • Hildred says:

    I think of you, Roger, every time I play the Adagio. That you should be so blessed, – how sad for people who don’t like music…

  • Photo cache says:

    Music stands the test of time.

  • Amit Agarwal says:

    Music is one of the loveliests from M..
    Great post, Roger:)

  • indrani says:

    Excellent choice for M. Music is universal language.
    Happy ABCW! 🙂

  • Joy says:

    I love all the different types of emotions music gives you, I always assumed like you, it was the same for everyone.

  • Ann says:

    Being in a choir, I have music in my head most of the time. Couldn’t imagine any other way.

  • Amen to that quote!

    Have a wonderful ABC-day / – week
    ♫ M e l ☺ d y ♫ (abc-w-team)

  • Scott F. says:

    Some fascinating articles! Thank you for posting them.

  • jesh StG says:

    The sign is so true – I often wake up with a song:) Thanks for visiting me – always enjoy your witty observations!

  • Gattina says:

    Interesting post ! Some songs remind me of spécial moments in my life !

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