Music to Evoke Memory
This is the ninth installment of The Curious Creative, weekly 10-minute writing exercises for busy individuals interested in exploring their creativity. For the complete rationale, click here.
In week 4, we used smell as a trigger to re-enter a certain time, to call up sensory details and freewrite about our grandmother’s kitchen. This week, we will use another powerful tool to call up a memory: music. When listening to a particular song, we can be overcome by flashbacks of people, places, and the strong emotion we felt at that time. Emotions enhance memory formation, and since music has the power to evoke strong emotions, it’s no wonder music is so intricately woven into our memories. Music is even used as a therapeutic tool with Alzheimer patients to help them recall memories. If you want to geek out and read more on this topic, check out Psychology Today’s article, “Why Do the Songs from your Past Evoke Such Vivid Memories?”
- Choose a song from your past that you were obsessed with. You listened to it a hundred times, sang your heart out to it, copied down the lyrics repeatedly, etc. (I chose "Goodnight, Saigon" by Billy Joel. My high school friends and I used to lay on the floor of one of our bedrooms and blare this song on repeat, each of us silently pulsing with passion!)
- Get your pen and paper ready, play the song once, and make a brainstorm list of everything you recall from that time. Jot down words and phrases quickly. Keep the pen moving!
- Now play the song on repeat, and freewrite for 7 minutes. Let your mind wander. Write down whatever comes to your mind. Just keep the pen moving!
What specific sensory details were called up? What tangents did you go off on? Did that same emotion take you to other memories that bore a similar emotion? Did you stay in the past or also write about the present? Did you notice your handwriting change? Did you come to any conclusions or just stay in a descriptive mode?
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