Weedon Weekly: 29th July 2017

Music, food and love combine

THE HAPPY HORMONE

My working weeks are so unpredictable that I've decided "Weedon Wednesdays" is a promise I will repeatedly fail to deliver. So I'm changing it to "Weedon Weekly". That is why this offering is being hatched on a Saturday!

Shakespeare said "If music be the food of love, play on!" I wonder if he realised that there was a strong scientific basis to what he wrote? Humankind would agree that good music, tasty food and falling in love are all very pleasant in their way. The interesting fact is that eating, listening to music and feeling love all have an identical effect in the body. They cause the release of dopamine, the so-called 'pleasure chemical'.

Taking the science a step further, it has been discovered that combining music with an outstanding meal or a passionate event means that the tune you were hearing at the time is 'burnt' into your memory. It becomes a favourite, and can be used to reproduce that rush of euphoric chemicals each time you hear it, just as if you were eating that same meal or feeling that passionate love all over again. I can only imagine that, if you fell in love while dining with an orchestra playing in the background the effect would be almost overwhelming!

Now here's another fascinating thing: the effect of that tune doesn't depend on its musical quality. It could be a really rather mediocre piece of music. So the fact that some tunes become big hits is less dependent on whether they are good than where you heard them and what you were doing. So songs played in restaurants, or romantic venues (dance halls, cinemas, holiday resorts etc) have a much greater chance of becoming popular.

This could have a bearing on concert attendance. I've noticed that clubs which offer food (especially savouries) are much better attended. Could it be that the audience are getting hooked on their double dose of dopamine? I don't think we can (or even should) try to introduce romance into the equation, though moody lighting is also another factor in successful clubs!

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