It is a fact that music and drugs often go together. Not only for musicians, who try to enhance their creativity, but also for music-lovers who find that it increases their joy and connection with melodies. Moreover, some music genres appeared only because of drugs. Acid rock would never have happened without LSD, and house music, with its repetitive 4/4 beats, would have remained a niche musical taste if it wasn’t for the wide availability of MDMA (ecstasy, molly) in the 1980s and 1990s.
Music has been a part of human’s life since the stone age. Early humans used to sing banging rocks together and even created primitive music instruments out of animal bones. They also used mind-altering plants to increase the enjoyment of the music they created.
Centuries later it grew up to a multi-branch culture, ranging from psychedelic sixties rock all the way through to present day hip-hop. Cannabis and other drugs have been long going alongside with the music as a mean to cause inspiration. But why exactly the music sounds so much more pure when you are high?
Drugs: enhancing the audial experience
The biggest effect of the cannabis is perception altering. The psychoactive component THC changes the brain sense of timing and pleasure center. This causes a disruption in short-term memory, allowing the brain to produce feelings of connectedness and a sense of overall enhanced enjoyment. Weed and music produce separate emotional responses, which multiply each other when combined. Daniel J. Levitin – a psychologist, scientist and musical producer once explained that "The disruption of short-term memory thrusts listeners into the moment of the music as it unfolds; unable to explicitly keep in mind what has just been played. They live for each note, completely in the moment."
Although cannabis may create feelings of anxiety and paranoia with some users, Music calms it down and reduces stress; therefore, they greatly complement each other.
Whereas most people believe that we can only hear music but not feel it, those who have tried cannabis and listened to music often describe it as more deep and textured, making the listener feel like they’ve had a sensitive and rich experience. I am sure that every cannabis smoker has been in the situation when you could feel that your body and soul are perfectly synchronized with the beat.
There was a study conducted in 2011 that demonstrated how THC affects visual and auditory processing. In short, it was revealed that the different areas of the brain have very vague borders, which are controlled chemically and the theory is that cannabis loosens these borders so we can feel music more deeply.
However, the most famous music festivals drug is arguably MDMA, which is due to much distinct sensations. MDMA works by affecting the levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These are neurotransmitters in the brain that are directly responsible for emotion, motivation and memory. When taken, MDMA causes a huge reaction with these brain chemicals and increases positive emotions like confidence, happiness, and love. Add here already established positive effects of music and you can see why it might be attractive to use these substances going to a club or listening to your favorite music.
Keep in mind that taking it does not guarantee that you will have the best night of your life. Besides the obvious factors that affect the experience, for instance the quality of the substance itself, there are a lot of personal one. The dosage, your own well-being and emotional state, mood of people around you etc. As much as clubs and festivals try to offer other ways of stimulating you by using a bigger sound system as well as lighting, the real stimulation can be happening inside of your brain.
Even though science has investigated the relation of drug effects with the music only superficially, it is easy to see why those two make such a great combo. They can reveal deeper aspects of what we listen causing life changing experience by activation the flow of happiness. Always remember that drugs are to be taken responsibly, take care about the company, setting and make sure you choose a proper situation.
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