Why does listening to some music give us more satisfaction than other music?


I heard that music gives you satisfaction because your brain creates a feedback loop of predicting what music will come in a second, and then rewarding itself if it was right. But in that case, why does some music give us more satisfaction than other music?

In: Biology

I don’t think anyone can give a pure answer to that. Maybe it’s how much you can analyze a certain song. For eg. some lyrics you can relate to your personal experiences. Or for a professional musician complicated rhythms are a challenge and they love it.

I can’t explain it, but I am a sucker for a hook. So several years ago I learned about Pachelbel’s progression. The specific combination of the chords is so pleasing to us humans. Many songwriters use it, Blue’s Traveler most cleverly in “The Hook”

I think it’s how you relate to the music. For an example I can’t relate to most of Cardi B music because most of my past is not described in the music, but if you play Till I Collapse or I’m Not Afraid by Eminem, I’ll will totally relate because in my life, I’ve had to try my best to not give up and make a change.

Part of it has to do with tension and release in music. Similar to reading a story, if you were listening to a song and it never really “went” anywhere, you would get bored pretty fast. Satisfying music introduces you to something that feels like the “home” of the song, before taking you somewhere else. Tension builds when you are taken away from that home, which makes it much more satisfying to come back, rather than having stayed there the entire time. This time “home” might be the chorus, having some similar attributes to the introduction of the song, but also surprising you by adding or taking away certain elements.

This is another huge contributing factor; playing with expectations. While it might be true that your brain rewards itself when it’s correct about guessing what comes next (not sure how true that is but rollin with it), it’s much more rewarding when something doesn’t exactly meet your expectations. Again, compared to story telling, if you knew exactly what was going to happen, it wouldn’t be as satisfying as a new adventure. It might feel more like recalling a memory. Satisfying music conditions you to predict how the song is going to go, then does something different that isn’t as obvious but still fits with the song.

These are just two examples that stick out to me as highly contributing factors. I’d love to hear the others that people come up with.

The rhythms sync with your body. I think a well made song will affect you in the right ways where bad music is like a wrench in the machine.

I don’t know if this is something science has or can explain but if I had to make a guess, I would imagine that certain sounds or patterns of sounds produce different reactions based on how our brain is wired. For example, I was reading the other day about a neurological disorder called musical anhedonia where those afflicted are unable to derive pleasure from music. Research shows that people who suffer from musical anhedonia have less functional connections between the parts of their brain that process sound and the parts of their brain that are related to a sense of reward. Quite literally, their brain is wired so that they don’t perceive music as something enjoyable and find it indistinguishable from other, non-patterned noises.

With that in mind, I can draw conclusions given how similar these topics are. Perhaps Person A enjoys instrumental music and Person B does not. Looking at how musical anhedonia affects the brain, I would hypothesize that perhaps Person A has less connections between their sound processing center and whatever region of the brain that translates vocal speech into meaning when compared to Person B.

But, I want to state that this is just me theorizing and that I am not educated on this topic, this thread just looked a little bare and I wanted to contribute.

I don’t know the answer, but I can give you some related lyrics:

I can’t get no satisfaction

I can’t get no girly action

But I try

And I try

And I try