1. With friends
I have a group of roommates who are powerless to resist the urge to dance in the presence of a great song. In the event of a well- selected track, the atmosphere, whatever it may be, gets replaced with the timeless ecstasy of fellowship and celebration. It could be a Tuesday morning during finals week when everyone in my small apartment is anxious and tired, but if “Dance Yrself Clean” by LCD Soundsystem finds its way through our speakers, a nine-minute dance party is bound to ensue.
What I enjoy about listening to a song with other people is the coming together of our independently developed loves of the song. However, if I want develop a truly heartfelt relationship with a song, I have to appreciate it for itself, apart from other people’s judgment. In order to do so, I have to cut off the outside world and let the music overtake me. I have to situate my entire existence on the focal point of the song. Only then may the primary function of the song be realized.
3. While exercising
Exercising is sometimes harder mentally than it is physically. The impending drudgery of an afternoon workout in the midst of a long and hard workweek can be enough to kill my motivation. Luckily, I always have a playlist of apathy zapping power jams. No matter how close I am to giving up and finding a couch to die in, there is always a song or album with the ability to empower me to at least begin. When it comes to exercising, that is all it takes.
4. In film
The mixture of visual and auditory stimulation that is present in music-infused film achieves effects that either medium of presentation would struggle to achieve on its own. The combination effect is not in any way better than that of either medium alone. It simply exists on a unique spectrum of emotional evocation. Consequently, the problem with pairing music and film is that the unique effect of each medium gets sacrificed in some way for the sake of the pair.
5. While studying or working
Listening to music while studying or working is a gamble. Music can destroy the possibility of concentration. However, listening to music while studying or working has made my list because the positive outcome of such an endeavor can be extremely positive. Every situation-to-song interaction creates its own unique flavor of a mental state. A great and useful example is when music amplifies the effects of coffee, creating in me an artificial sense of urgency.