In her new book, Read My Lips, Elaine Eksvard explores the different avenues of rhetoric, and how to get people to want to listen to you. Today we’re exploring Elaine’s idea of how music impacts almost everything we do, and how we can harness it to get our messages across to audiences. Check out the extract below for her take on how music influences rhetoric.
There is no doubt that music is powerful. It can move us to tears, or lift up oods within a few minutes. What is usually overlooked, however, is how we all are awash in, and influenced by, music. Film directors steer our emotions with the help of music. When you look at a film and suddenly become emotionally moved, you can’t be entirely certain whether it was the music or what you saw that gave you that feeling. It can, of course, be a combination of the two, but the music strengthens the impressions. Magical, transporting films often manage to plant emotions without showing them. We ‘hear’ the feelings, but don’t see or read them.
The effect is not limited to cinema and media in the slightest. The neurologist Oliver Sacks, who wrote the books ‘Musicophilia’, was of the opinion that music can have incredible effects on people with neurological conditions such as Parkinsons’, dementia, stroke, and aphasia. Music seems to have a unique ability to tap into inner abilities that people had lost. Part of the explanation for this is that the various components of music, such as rhythm, timbre, and beat, affect different parts of the brain. Since music triggers emotional as well as cognitive, autonomic and motor functions, it stimulates many parts of the brain.
In this way, music can also be used in the work environment. A meeting can be more or less successful, depending on the background music. You can use music strategically to create a mood that convinces the listener. It can create a feeling that you want to achieve and help lighten conversations. It is a powerful tool if you use it correctly.
Which music has the greatest effect? Is there a particular song that always works? No, but what affects us all similarly is the rhythm. But other emotions that are aroused are different. According to Ingrid Hammerlund, music therapist and teacher at the Royal College of Music, researchers today agree that the music that is most effective, medically and psychologically, is that which you choose yourself.
Ultimately you have to think about what you want to say with the music you choose, and what feelings do you want to convey. Try to use music strategically and carefully, to arouse the right feelings in the person or people you are going to meet. Think about the tempo in the music, but also the age, background, and musical taste of the listeners.
Read My Lips by Elaine is out on 21 September
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