Mood music drives ‘Novans to succeed

Brandi Neal

“I’m getting my head right,” says one excited Villanova football player as he and the rest of his team prepare for “war” (a Saturday game). Getting his head right involves the blaring sounds of the Game Day CD, which is played before every Wildcat football game.

It is an eclectic blend of Jay-Z, Linkin Park, Guns and Roses and many other artists. And no sports-related play list is complete without Queen’s “We Are the Champions” and the infamous Rocky tune, “Eye of the Tiger.”

“It’s show time baby!” Terry Butler says as he bangs helmets with other players during a pre-game get-pumped ritual.

The Villanova Wildcats, like the rest of the world, know that music gets their heads right. Whether it’s keeping cool in a traffic jam or singing in the shower, music can bring us to tears or take away fears. It can make us dance or aid in romance. It can make us fight or make the day right. It has the power to open doors, to ease our minds and to take us to levels where emotion hides. It is created by people to communicate. Music grabs us by the belt loops and pulls us in. But why does it do it? And how?

Music involves fluctuating sound waves, language and creativity. It is elusive, evading verbalization. Like all arts it provides a ground for humor and love. Scientific inquiry can’t explain it.

Music is a controlled movement of sound in time. “Controlled” is the key here. Music is rarely spontaneous. It does not just pour out random sound. It is patterned and sculpted by the composer.

While listening to music we listen to language, we spin out expectations about how things will proceed, based on our culture. When the music fits our expectations, we relax. But when it deviates, we become tense.

In the book “Emotion and Meaning in Music,” musicologist Leonardo Meyer said, “Music is generally arranged so that certain themes or melodies are introduced, repeated and alternated with other themes. But original ones eventually return and give us a comforting sense of completion when they do.”

In the movies, theme music such as the infamous “Jaws” tune produces expectations. When the tune comes on, the audience knows that the shark is coming. In one key scene the shark comes without the forewarning tune, and this intensifies the shock and horror.

Studies have revealed that the left hemisphere of the brain processes language while the right hemisphere is dominant in music processing.

“When studying, I listen to music, depending on my mood,” Cassidy Canzani, a junior economics major says. “Soft and slow, something that I can sort of zone out to. It almost always has to be something I’ve heard before.”

Music can also affect sexual experiences: “It depends on what you are doing,” says one University student. “It can intensify not only the physical aspects but also the emotional aspects.”

Music conveys the composer’s emotions while it appeals to the emotions of listeners.

“I feel like it does a little of both,” said Chris Ay, composer and director of the former band Backwards Alphabet. “There are times when I pick up my guitar and use it for time to think, but there are times that I see someone around campus and their body language or facial expressions tell their story, I write for them too.”