Why We Retain Music For Longer

Have you ever heard a song come on and was instantly transported back to an earlier time, be it happy or sad? Music has the power to bring to life memories trapped within our subconscious, even though we may be unaware they have been retained. What, exactly, is it that makes music so powerful and allows us to retain memories for longer? We share more in this article.

Oral Tradition

For centuries, before the onset of technology, and even to a small extent today, oral tradition was the way history got passed down across generations. Mothers would impart their cultures and traditions to children, who would in turn impart it to their own children. In fact, Homer’s The Odyssey was passed down through oral tradition. It would be a mistake to think that oral tradition did not encompass music; in fact, most poetic devices were chanted or sung as they relied heavily on memory to be committed to mind and therefore, passed down.

Explicit and Implicit Memory

Memory is a tricky thing. While each of us may have thousands of memories and experiences stored in our heads, they do not always surface when we want them to, despite our conscious efforts to call them to mind. What is it about music that has the power to rouse a hidden memory? To understand this, we first have to be familiar with the two different kinds of memory:

  • Explicit memory: This kind of memory is conscious and deliberate. For instance, when you ask yourself, “Where did I leave the keys this morning?” or “What did I have for lunch last week?”, you are exercising explicit memory.
  • Implicit memory: Implicit memory is an unintentional form of memory, a reaction to external stimuli such as smells and music. In fact, studies have concluded that a large part of memory takes place implicitly. With conditions such as Alzheimer’s, it is the explicit memory system that is worn down, not the implicit. This conclusion is one reason why music is so therapeutic to dementia and Alzheimer’s patients, helping them tap into their implicit memories.

Music as Social Memory

Music has the power to bring us back to the past. The music that played in the background during a particular time can trigger a memory, regardless of whether we personally like the song or whether we selected it. Music is often something we listen to in a group, with friends and as background noise in a restaurant or social setting, making it a more collective experience than smell.

Enhance Memorization with Mind Muzic

Music has the power to commit to memory numerous facts and experiences we encounter during different stages of life. If you are looking for a fun and effective way to help your child learn, Mind Muzic has a wide assortment of educational videos ranging from historical topics to war lessons, to help students achieve better grades and improve retention rates. To this end, all our subscriptions come with personalized playlists and quizzes to enhance learning.

If you have any queries about our educational videos or subscriptions, please feel free to contact us.

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