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Songs That Trigger Emotions

September 15, 20204 min read

How To Use Music To Stimulate A Desired Emotional Response

Music has the power to influence, transform and greatly effect our energy, our memories, and certainly, our emotions.

Lyrics can often bore deep inside of us, pierce our hearts and leave a lasting impression that changes us forever.

Melodies get stuck in our heads and are a constant reminder of our connection to the song, where we were when we heard it, and how it initially effected us.

If you have the ability to play an instrument [playing it well or poorly is irrelevant] and/or sing the lyrics [again singing it in-tune or totally off-key is irrelevant] you have the ability to use music to transform your emotional state of being.

We actors must use what effects us to help us do our work on stage and in front of the camera and for all of us that have been effected in some way by music, songs, lyrics, instruments, mixing - even if it's the simple dinging of the metal triangle - we must embrace music as a craft technique to help us transform our emotional life so we can fulfill the emotional obligations of the script.

Many actors have a playlist of songs on their phone categorized in not just their musical genre, but also in how the songs make them feel or the purpose they serve.

How many of you reading this that exercise have a playlist of songs you listen to when you're running or doing cardio? Specific songs help put you into specific emotional states of being to help you do your workout, so the same must hold true for actors.

If we all just allow ourselves the permission to work simply, as opposed to picking a technique that we think is supposed to work, we will function on stage and in front of the camera with more ease. If you're obligated to walk on stage in a very sad mood and you know that a specific songs tears you up, then listen to that song before you walk on stage and allow your body to naturally be effected. There's no reason you need to force yourself to use a more rigorous technique if listening to a song triggers your emotional life in the way you desire.

Now, that's not to say that you should not work on the techniques of Emotional Recall (Emotional Memory), Imagination, Movement, and all the other amazing craft tools available to you, but if your body quickly responds to music, then trust your body because your body knows what to do long before your head figures it out.

However, there are times, obviously, that you cannot listen to music to stimulate an emotional response. Of course, one of those instances is when you are actually on stage performing or in front of the camera filming. In this case, if you would like to use music as the tool to help stimulate the desired emotional state, then you MUST have a strongly developed Sense Memory skill to be able to create the music for yourself when it is not there so that your senses can be stimulated to the sensorily created music and your body responds as if the song was actually playing.

My personal opinion is that Sense Memory is one of the most powerful acting tools an actor can have at their disposal and any actor serious about their craft must develop mastery of Sense Memory. And yes, I teach Sense Memory inside the Toolbox, so I encourage your to consider joining.

Here are some examples of songs that trigger different emotions in me. It's a VERY short list because I could go on and on and on with the songs that effect me.

Give these a listen and see how they effect you and then begin to create your own "playlists" of music that you can go back to again and again in order to use it to help you stimulate emotions in you so you can do your job.


Supermarket Flowers by Ed Sheeran

You Taught Me What Love Is by Beth Porch


Can't Stop This Feeling by Justin Timberlake

Honey I'm Good by Andy Grammer


Forever Young by Alphaville

Somebody by Depeche Mode


Bad by Michael Jackson

Man In The Mirror by Michael Jackson

Please post comments with what your Go-To songs are to help you in your work. I'm sure others would love to listen to the songs that effect you so they could add them to their list. I know I would appreciate expanding my list too.

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I hope this post has inspired you in some small way. I look forward to reading your comments.

Bye for now and Stay Safe My Fellow Travelers.
See you inside the Toolbox.
Email: [email protected]

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