Video: An Animated Explanation Of Why Music Makes You Happy

The latest simple and clever video from AsapScience illustrates the happiness-generating power of music.

This animation by AsapScience (no relation to rappers A$AP Mob) uses props like bananas, apes drawn in Sharpie, condoms, steaks, and lotto tickets to demonstrate the basic chemistry of your brain on music. Its approach to educating is kind of like Sesame Street for adults—know going in that the emphasis is on the asap, not the science—so don’t expect neurophysiology. But it is a playful and somehow mesmerizing video, the latest on what’s become a hit YouTube channel.

"The Scientific Power of Music" is just one of AsapScience’s ongoing series of videos, all under four minutes, explaining everything from the Science of Cats to whether we could stop an asteroid (a collaboration with old-school favorite Bill Nye the Science Guy). The charming designs couldn’t be simpler, consisting of fast-motion dry-erase writing on a whiteboard—words, smiley faces, chemical compound symbols—and cleverly placed household objects.

AsapScience is duo Mitchell Moffitt and Gregory Brown, both graduates of Ontario’s University of Guelph. Brown teaches high school science and art, and Moffitt works in music and film production, in a professional pairing that was seemingly destined to make these animations.

As explained in the video, music releases the neurotransmitter dopamine, the "feel good" chemical, that triggers states of arousal similar to that from food, sex, and drugs. That’s why catchy hooks become addictive—how many times have you heard Robin Thicke’s "Blurred Lines" this summer? As Brown and Moffitt support what humans have known about music since its inception, "It’s a perfectly natural drug of happiness."

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  • The video suggests that music does not have the same "human race survival" benefits as food and sex. However, music encourages people to communicate in more abstract thoughtful ways and to happily meet together to enjoy it. That also adds to cohesiveness and common interests in a community. Positive internal bio-chemical reactions to the production and hearing of music therefore might also contribute to our survival.

  • Jean-Luc Grosjean

    Any reason then why certain songs sound better the more you hear them, but then all of a sudden, don't sound good anymore from being overplayed?

  • Carmenza patiño

    Cuando he utilizado la música como introducción en las clases, he observado estudiantes más  dispuestos y menos agresivos. La música logra una actitud positiva, confirmando el estudio científico.
    Carmenza Patiño T.