Music possesses an extraordinary ability to evoke emotions, create vivid experiences, and enhance our perception of the world.
Many people have noticed that the connection between music and altered states of consciousness, particularly under the influence of substances, intensifies the experience.
While highs are different experiences from person to person, understanding the general impacts of altered states of consciousness on our perception of music sheds light on the mysteries of the mind and its dance with song.
There is still a ton that remains to be uncovered in this evolving exploration of the interplay between mind and music, but here are a few reasons people find intense happiness when combining drugs and music.
At the heart of pleasure and reward lies dopamine, a neurotransmitter that shapes our emotional experiences. Under the influence of substances, particularly cannabis, alterations in dopamine release occur.
"Music combined with marijuana tends to produce feelings of euphoria and connectedness to the music and the musicians." - Daniel Levitin, a professor of neuroscience at McGill University
This surge in dopamine levels may explain the heightened pleasure derived from listening to music while high.
The interplay between substances, the brain's reward system, and the auditory senses manifests in a more intense and enjoyable musical journey.
Cannabidiol (CBD), known for its anxiolytic properties, offers a unique perspective on the connection between stress relief and musical enjoyment.
Elevated stress levels can hinder the ability to fully engage with music.
By alleviating anxiety, CBD creates a mental space that is conducive to a more immersive musical experience, allowing listeners to delve into the sonic landscape without the interference of stress.
Cannabis and psychedelics are renowned for inducing alterations in short-term memory function. This impact on memory plays a role in intensifying the focus on the present moment when experiencing music.
"Unable to explicitly keep in mind what has just been played, or to think ahead to what might be played, people stoned on pot tend to hear music from note to note." - Daniel J. Levitin
The temporary changes in short-term memory facilitate a more profound connection with the auditory stimuli, allowing listeners to immerse themselves fully in the present musical experience, note by note.
Altered time perception is a common effect of substances like cannabis and psychedelics. In the context of music, this temporal distortion creates a unique experience where the passage of time becomes subjective.
Listeners may find themselves lost in the timeless quality of the music, allowing for a deeper connection and appreciation of the composition.
The altered states induced by substances often lead to a state of hyper-focus. In the realm of music, this heightened focus enables listeners to delve into the intricate details of a composition.
"If you smoke a strong joint, it's mildly psychedelic and it just puts you in touch with things. You journey inside. Things seem to come out of nowhere sometimes; it throws you a bit." - Lindsey Buckingham
Subtleties and nuances that might go unnoticed in a sober state become apparent, providing a richer and more detailed musical experience.
Beyond the well-documented effects of altered states on the auditory experience, many songsmiths attest to a notable surge in creativity when music intertwines with the influence of substances.
"I smoke a lot of pot when I write music. So I'm not gonna, like, sugar coat it for '60 Minutes' that, you know, I'm some, like, sober human being 'cause I'm not." - Lady Gaga
This can be like an added bonus, even if you aren't trying to write a song and just want to connect to the music in your own way. In this altered mental landscape, musicians often find themselves deeply immersed in the nuances of the music.
For those who choose to explore the combination of music and altered consciousness, the insights above offer valuable perspectives into the potential enhancements of this unique synergy.
But while substances like marijuana can indeed enhance the connection to music, it's essential that I approach these discussions with nuance and without implying that intoxication is a prerequisite for a profound musical journey.
Music, in its essence, is a universal language that can resonate deeply with individuals, irrespective of their state of mind.
The exploration of altered states can offer a unique lens through which to perceive and interact with music, but it is by no means the only path to a meaningful connection.
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As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 300 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!
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