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Abstract

Music affects the emotions and outlooks of its listeners. Sad music can induce despondence, indifference, and depression, whereas lively music can encourage jubilance, excitement, and happiness. Music changes how listeners interpret their environment, from the people around them the thoughts inside their heads. However, the mechanism by which this works is shrouded in mystery. Music’s psychological, mechanical, and physiological influences are such a complicated, intertwined mess that if you asked someone to explain why you get the feelings you get when you listen to your favorite song, odds are they’ll respond with “I can’t explain it.” This slam poem, originally entitled “I Can’t Explain It,” seeks to capture and illustrate the inexplicable effect that different types of music have on one’s emotions, as well as one’s self- and local perception. This piece follows variations in the thoughts of a student sitting at the Campus Center of the University of Hawai’i at Manoa – one of the central hubs for student and faculty activity – as he peruses his iPod touch, scrolling and searching to find the perfect song at the perfect volume and, once it is found, basking in the wave of emotions it brings about.

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