Please Don’t Stop the Music: Commentary on “Musical Sounds, Motor Resonance, and Detectable Agency”

Istvan Molnar-Szakacs


Music allows the expression of emotion, evokes pleasure, and creates the sense of social belonging. Surprisingly, since the advent of recorded music, asocial music listening has become increasingly popular. Launay (2015) presents the argument that music is imbued with qualities that allow the listener to attribute it with agency, thus, making music listening a fundamentally social experience, even in the absence of a human agent. I agree that music listening is an inherently social experience for humans, and propose that the biological correlates of music’s inherent sociality lie in the study of the interaction of neural systems of empathy, motor resonance, and pleasure and reward. However, where Launay dismisses emotional empathy as peripheral to the music perception question, I propose that it is indeed central to the mystery of the universal power of music.


music; social; motor; reward; dopamine; emotion; empathy

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