If you are reading this article then you have probably experienced the weird sensation of shivers when you hear a particular song come on the radio. No this is not ASMR – so what causes shivers when listening to music? Do you have some sort of weird disorder? Don’t worry – don’t go running to the doctor yet; you are actually not alone, there is at least 2/3 of the population that experience this sensation; scientists call this strong emotional reaction “music frisson” which the french have dubbed aesthetic shivers and other researchers “skin orgasms”. A study done by scientists showed that people who experienced frisson possessed personality traits associated with openness to experience; this is essentially being open and appreciative of new experiences.
Although frisson is what causes shivers when listening to music, it also arises from other situations like:
- Watching epic movie scenes
- Immersing oneself in a moving art piece
- essentially anything that arises an emotion so strong that the bodies only way of expression is through “skin orgasms” – think of it as a burst of emotion
Characteristics of music that cause frisson
Music that causes frisson is relative to the audience, some people may be moved by Opera while others may have a deep seated emotional attachment to a song that evokes memories or daydreaming.This is probably why heart broken individuals usually want to listen to love songs to ease their pain. Whatever the case, these factors are typically what causes shivers when listening to music:
- Listening to a song attached to a very emotional movie scene ( think “Top Gun” scene with “Take my breath away – Berlin” playing in the background)
- Theatrical music performances
- Songs that climax very deeply
The above reasons are probably why people fare better in musical contests when they attach a story to their singing. When artists sing from their heart, people can often feel their emotion and respond to it positively.
What causes shivers when listening to music – the triggers
while some people may find the feeling of frisson too much to handle, others enjoy the feeling of complete emotion overcoming them. If you are one of these people, here are some ways to identify what triggers your music frisson:
- Identify the common situations that bring about your frisson – do you usually get frisson when watching a movie scene with a romantic song playing in the back drop? if this is the case then you are probably a very romantic person who gets frisson from emotional music
- Does songs building up to a climax bring about frisson? then it probably means that you are the type of person that anticipates something powerful is about to happen and react with frisson when it does.
- Do certain types of singers bring about your frisson? then maybe look at what they have in common; is it their style or background that appeals to your emotional side?
There you go! what causes shivers when listening to music explained. The next time someone tells you that you lack substance and feeling – just let them know that you experience frisson and they will back down.