Do you feel musical frisson?

Soprano Clare sent me this great link for the blog, all about ‘frisson.’

It’s an interesting read.

The Paul Simon version of the Sounds of Silence (which we are currently learning) has always given me goosebumps, but the song which stopped me in my tracks the first time I ever heard it was Zombie by The Cranberries. It was so incredibly powerful that I caught my breath and my skin prickled, and still does when I hear it.

I asked my 13-year-old if he experienced goosebumps when listening to any piece of music. Without hesitation he replied, ‘Yes! The theme to Jurassic Park…the first one.’

Do you experience frisson or goosebumps when listening to music, and if so, which songs? Post links to your favourite goosebump-inducing pieces in the comments below.


23 thoughts on “Do you feel musical frisson?

  1. Totally agree – and agree on Jurassic Park. It is has such an epic sweeping feel to it.

    I do think that your experiences with a particular piece of music makes a difference. It triggers memories and they add to the frisson. For example, I get goosebumps and shivers when I hear the orchestral version of ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Mis, which occurs after the final battle. It is majestic and as an audience member you have already had your emotions thrown around by the preceding scene. I can listen to that piece now and be back there in the theatre, watching the events play out.

    Overtures also tend to have an effect on me because, as an actor, I associate them with standing in the wings, waiting to go on, with my emotions on a high. Even if I’ve not done that particular show, hearing an overture still gives me goosebumps.

    The more I think about it, the more it is about what I associate the music with. I only need to hear one song to be transported back to my first year at uni. Happiness or sadness, all of your memories can be stored in music. I know that this doesn’t apply to your point about hearing The Cranberries’ song for the first time though.

    • Actually it does. Northern Ireland was never out of the news when I was growing up. Then I dated and ultimately married a guy from Northern Ireland and saw it all first hand. I knew as soon as I heard the opening lines of that song that it was about the troubles and it made me stop and listen and my skin prickled. It still has that effect.

  2. Some songs stop me in my tracks and I have to stop everything to listen to them. And it doesn’t matter how often I’ve heard them (Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here is one example)
    But music in general is a very emotional experience for me – and I also find it impossible to stay still, especially if it gets funky ๐Ÿ™‚ there’s a local funk guitarist who I swear plugs his guitar into my central nervous system!

    • Good song…though that one doesn’t give me frisson. Must be a very personal thing I reckon.

      • I’ve just tested it out to make sure I’m not making it up – goosebumps and tears…every time.

  3. I went to see guys live a couple of years ago:
    It was a very small venue and not very many people in the audience. I wasn’t even expecting to enjoy it. The impact of Mike’s voice when he started to sing was so intense that I started to cry – I shocked myself at my emotion – I couldn’t stop and tried to hide as I was so embarrassed! At the end of the first song they asked if I was Ok because apparently I looked as though I’d had a heart attack. I could hardly speak.
    The Joy of Living still makes me sob. Music gets to me in a way that nothing else can ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Ennio Morriicone’s score for The Mission has me totally absorbed and moves me to tears.

    • It is. I agree ๐Ÿ™‚

      And that piano piece is very beautiful, and yes…gives me goosebumps too. Thanks for that.

  5. Off the top of my head I can immediately think of Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman singing Time to Say Goodbye, live:

    I always thought it was an instinctual response to auditory stimulus, but that there was no requirement for focused attention- almost like the goosebumps will be activated even if the person isn’t listening properly. I suspect that the ideas in the article show a better explanation. The emotional attachment to the music being a stronger stimulus than a simple combination of notes and sounds.

    When my husband and I listen to music together we tend to judge those who can give us both those frisson moments as great musicians. Its a lovely, happy sensation. I’m surprised that not everyone experiences it and am really glad I’m one of the lucky ones.

    • Ooh that doesn’t produce the effect for me, though I like it. Must be specific to individuals.

    • Hahaha…I know you are a huge Enya fan Lynda. She does have a beautiful voice.

  6. Love Sound of Silence, great song. “It could have been me” from whistle down the wind always gives me goosebumps.

  7. I have always experienced musical frisson, I cannot quote offhand any particular song at the moment. But the last experience was when we were on holiday in Malta recently. We were drawn to the sound of a choir singing in an outside restaurant. It wasn’t the evenings entertainment but clearly a group sitting awaiting their meal to be served, they had their song sheets on their tables, probably 30 or more in all. I couldn’t tell you the song it was Italian I think, very touching, not only did I get goose bumps but it made my shed a few tears.

    • My son says the theme from Jurassic park always makes him well-up because it tugs all the right strings.

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