Music and Emotions

But why exactly does this experience of music distinctly transcend other sensory experiences? How is it able to evoke emotion in a way that is incomparable to any other sense?

Music can be thought of as a type of perceptual illusion, much the same way in which a collage is perceived. The brain imposes structure and order on a sequence of sounds that, in effect, creates an entirely new system of meaning. The appreciation of music is tied to the ability to process its underlying structure — the ability to predict what will occur next in the song. But this structure has to involve some level of the unexpected, or it becomes emotionally devoid.

Skilled composers manipulate the emotion within a song by knowing what their audience’s expectations are, and controlling when those expectations will (and will not) be met. This successful manipulation is what elicits the chills that are part of any moving song.