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April 2024
Vol. 23, No. 7

The Alchemy of Music

Memories and Music

by Astra KellyApril 2024

Songs have a way of making memories. Even long after the event has passed, a memory can re-surface and remind us of the song that was playing, or a song can remind us of an experience we’ve lived, complete with emotion, sensations, and visuals. Music has the unique and powerful ability to transport us through time or amplify and solidify life experiences in the moment.

It’s not just on a personal level. Songs can become anthems for our social and cultural events or even for whole generations of people. Music becomes the soundtrack for the decades, inspiring styles, ways of thought and being, and solidifying cultural shifts and significant changes in the way we live our lives and perceive our past.

We know that music lights up the brain in unique and profound ways. There is a phenomenon called “music-dependent memory” that suggests that listening to music while experiencing an event can enhance the memory of that event and the emotional elements of the music become linked to the memory itself.

As songwriters, we have a unique opportunity to harness this power by creating music that evokes a certain sense of nostalgia. By infusing our songs with emotion—inducing ideas and themes—we can inspire a more significant listening experience for our audience. Similarly, filmmakers use songs to create powerful movie moments, and marketers choose sonic backgrounds that they hope will help sell their product.

This column is named after a song from my forthcoming album release. I was on the road for nearly a year writing the record. In this song, I wanted to talk to all the places I’d been and all the places I was going and ask that they give me “Memories and Music.” That’s exactly what happened.

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