In the media, electronic dance music or EDM is viewed as a disastrous trend of the youth. The latest type of drug that’s invading the upcoming new generation of teens and young adults. Well, it’s time to set things straight, EDM as it’s name means, is just music.
Throughout the years and generations, music has taken a significant role in affecting and benefiting the human condition in many ways, and electronic music is not an exception.
Many of us consider music as a form of escape from everyday life, a type of therapy. People use it to express themselves, and to feel better. Artists use music as a form of expression, a way of sending a message out to the public. And for years, studies have been conducted in order to try and understand more the effects of music on our wellbeing, which led to greatly positive results. It is now proven that music affects the brain in a positive way. The effect of music on the brain, they said, is similar to the experience of engaging with certain drugs or even having sex. Music also has the power to release norepinephrine, which is responsible for vigilant concentration, and feelings of euphoria and elation.
In electronic dance music, it’s no wonder why upbeat genres like Trance, Progressive and Tropical House make us feel so good! Rhythm is primal and universal, the bass stimulates the mind, and the music is a simple and effective outlet for talent to shine, whether for a musician or a listener. This force of unity through the auditory sensation blends creativity, passion and brings everyone together in a peaceful, loving and respectful way.
Getting back to the festivals, these are all about the music. These events unite hundreds of thousands of people all around the globe every year and at several huge locations and venues. The benefits of the music can be directly linked to the festivals and one cannot divide between them.
The Benefits of Music
One study done on music’s effect on the human mind, included non-musician volunteers who listened to four symphonies composed by William Boyce while an fMRI tracked the activity within their brains. In each of the involved subjects, significant brain activity was discovered in the auditory cortex, movement, motor planning and attention regions.
Surprised by the results, researchers found that dopamine was flowing into the subject’s brains during the peak emotional points in the symphonies they listened to. The effects were similar to the ones people have when they are having sex. On another hand, music affected the perception of faces. For example, hearing a sad song made someone perceive a neutral facial expression to be considered more negative, while the opposite was also found to be true.
Studies show that our bodies do respond to music by releasing the neurotransmitter Serotonin which fosters happiness and a sense of well-being. Our bodies also release dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for helping us feel motivated and alert. So in short, music is a mood booster. Numerous research studies have found that music is a powerful anti-depressant. The right music can ease stress, muscle tension, calm the nervous system and slow our heart rate which leads to a calmer and more relaxed state.
Music cuts stress out of the mind in a way that helps people get more focused and increase concentration. Dr. Emma Grey, a Clinical Psychologist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, suggests a more emotive, upbeat genre to promote a creative thought process.
Music is then a great catalyst for creative expression and productivity. The addition of atmospheric music can help people meditate and relax which opens the mind and soul to the rest of the person’s creative abilities. People who use music to meditate calm themselves easily and enjoy a more effective meditation session which eventually helps boost motivation and esthetic response to music, according to a study done at the university of Oregon.
Music is also a way to express yourself, to release what’s on your mind if you’re not into writing or not so good with words, the right track, whether of your creation or not, can transmit a message and let other people feel what you’re feeling or get in touch with what you’re trying to communicate.
EDM And Wellbeing
EDM culture has adopted and lived by the mantra for the 1960’s movements: PLUR. Meaning Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect, PLUR became the philosophy that is meant to be on top of everything else in EDM culture. While how much of the people involved in this culture are abiding by this philosophy remains to be seen, it has become the ideal which is aimed for at EDM festivals and gatherings.
The positive meanings behind ‘PLUR’ reflect on how this culture aims for peace in the world and peace at the core of the human being. It communicates that people attending EDM events are running away from violence and their negatives, towards a better more “healthy” state of comfort and happiness. This is also reflected by the loving nature of the people, from loving yourself as you are to loving your surroundings and the people at the event with you.
As a result of the peace and the love above, people in the EDM community try to spread that we are all one, united by the music and the experience of it. They believe that we are bonded by the human condition and that we can only have respect for each other and for ourselves. Allowing our true beings to shine, to be seen and to be loved.
Adopting this mentality and this state of being transcends alcohol and drugs to a higher and better self. This is the core of the PLUR movement and EDM culture.
What Makes EDM Music Therapeutic?
The main components of music therapy include listening to, singing along with, and dancing to all kinds of different music. EDM is universal and is changing the hearts and minds of people around the world.
Laurel Trainor, Neuroscientist and Director of the McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada shares:
“Music in diverse cultures is composed this way, from classical East Indian music to Gamelan music of Java and Bali, suggesting an innate origin.”
A study was conducted to show the different effects of rhythm and pitches and the results show that rhythm is both primal and universal. Not only that, but it is also an innate part of human psychology and biology. A part of the inner ear called the Cochlea is what triggers our instincts, and scientists observed just how much influence a lower tone – or bass tone – affects our brains. In addition to that, what appears to move us the most according to a lot of scientists is music with low bass along with a high melodic energy. In other words, bass is truly stimulating the mind.
Another aspect of music is it being an outlet for creative talent and self expression of artists and young producers who are using it as a medium to express themselves, to relate to global causes to make themselves heard around the world. EDM is a multitude of genres, is a vast world in itself with lots of creative possibilities. There are basically no set rules, just grand guidelines for each “genre” as they became known. The rest is up to the person’s creative and technical abilities.
As its is now obvious, EDM music is a blend of creativity and humanity all coming together to unite people under one umbrella.
The Alzheimer’s Society of the United Kingdom discusses that people with Alzheimer’s who listen to music and participate in dance, show decreasing signs of anxiety and depression. This further applies to people who suffer from anxiety or depression, bipolar disorder, and many other mood disorders. The fact that music can decrease depression in humans by 25% has been substantiated by empirical, scientific data for years.
EDM Music Can Change Lives
There will always be something magical about music, EDM specifically, and it’s experience that will forever keep people coming back. The festival scene is bigger than ever, people flock from all over the world to festivals like Tomorrowland, and Ultra Music Festival who are expanding to new territories and continents. This is a healthy sign that the culture of EDM is on a positive and growing momentum.
These festivals unite people from around the globe under the cultural aspects of PLUR discussed above, they help people express themselves, to open up and make new friends. Some attendees even discover new forms of art since a lot of festivals now showcase new upcoming artists as well.
EDM Festivals have proven that they can change lives by feeding the soul and connecting people, releasing tension and letting festival-goers be taken by the music for a better state of being. The dancing and sweating is almost like a workout, but in a fun and positive way.
You’re open to the world, connected to the music. In these moments, your worries are released, your heart and body are moving with everyone else. At other moments you’re cuddling with friends and making new acquaintances, your body releases more positive hormones and makes you feel great!
You’re in vast open spaces surrounded by nature which is boosting your mental health and mood even more. You’re fully present within the crowd, you’re grateful. Welcome home.
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