The beginning of lockdown was months ago. We’re now well adjusted to our chosen coping mechanisms, pastimes and rejigged routines — whether begrudgingly or not. Back in April, I published an article that outlined the importance of leaning on music during such unprecedented times, but it generally cuts even deeper with regards to discovering new material. Humans are pleasure-seeking beings that strive for happiness, which is typically a consequence of acquiring enough of certain hormones. The science behind achieving a desired grade in a subject, per se, is identical to that of reaching a secure state of happiness — in this case, when listening to music.
Do you ever feel as though you’ve grown tired of your usual playlists? Or have you ever rinsed an album so much that you have no idea where to start with procuring the next? Hunting down a trigger for happiness is a fickle thing, but stumbling upon an artist or record that’s entirely new to you can bring immeasurable pleasure.
Why is this? Mood-regulating hormones travel through our bloodstream and release certain feelings in given situations. Dopamine is a hormone attributed to the sensation of delight when you get something right, for instance. Similarly though slightly different, serotonin’s release is often linked to exercise or sleep. Various endorphins also surge through us almost as rewards from our bodies for successfully completing goal-oriented actions. While most — if not all — of these won’t be uncommon to you, I assert that you’ll embrace the buzz of these hormones when you find new music that thrills you.
But what motivates us to actually want to listen to new sounds? Is it simply that we need to constantly be up to speed with the latest releases? Is it because we think we’re yet to uncover our absolute favourite songs? Or, is it that our brains are merely craving these happiness-promoting hormones? For me, I reckon it’s a combination of all three. Personally, nothing trumps when a rapper lays a fresh beat down, an up-and-coming band drops an off-the-chain punk anthem, or a DJ provides a sweet new tune that I can incorporate into my workout mix. You get the gist.
How about using music as time markers? You’re bound to attribute certain tracks with temporal events. Some particularly sombre, melancholy numbers might be your go-tos when you’re sad or upset, while some deliriously upbeat bangers might be what you spin when the summer festival season comes around again. Oddly, I can think of a fair few examples of songs I’ll come to associate with this lockdown period hereafter.
If you can’t get enough of exploring new music, I imagine you already more than understand its importance. But if you’re someone who stays within their comfort zone, I dare you to mix it up a bit; whether that’s rewinding and checking out classic rock artists or keeping up with releases every Friday. Whatever you do, it’ll be so worthwhile. The power of discovering new music really is epic.