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"Six Songs," Orgasm and Music

Daniel Levitin, the author of "Your Brain on Music" and "The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature," gives major props to oxytocin as the root of at least some of the goodness in music.

According to this interview by Eric Clark of the Iowa City Gazette,

... when people perform or listen to music their bodies release oxytocin, the same hormone that's released during an orgasm.

"It's one reason why people who are fans of music feel such an intense connection to their favorite artists," says Levitin, 50, calling from his office at McGill University in Montreal. "It's an orgasmic sort of bond."

In "Six Songs," Levitin posits that all music falls into one of six categories: friendship, joy, comfort, knowledge, religion and love. And, I'll point out, five out of those six deal with human connection or emotion.

In 2003, researchers at the University of Stockholm found that people who sang together released oxytocin. I'm going to check his book to see his refs for listening to music triggering the oxytocin response. People always ask how they can get more oxytocin, and if listening to music really can do it, that would be pretty great.

And, an interesting thing about Levitin is that he was a very successful professional musician in the 1980s, and then he switched to neuroscience. That was a really good career move: The music industry is in deep trouble and neuroscience is really exciting and even glamorous.