Chilling Out: The Biological Pleasures of Exciting Music @LakeStreetDive

There’s an excellent discussion up online today (“The chills we get from listening to music are a biological reaction to surprise“) about how music can give us the “chills” (wherein we learn that, actually, the technical scientific term is “frisson”). The whole thing is great, but especially the example the author (Katherine Foley) uses to illustrate her discussion. The example comes from Lake Street Dive, also a perennial favorite over here at Progarchy amongst the editors. Here it is:

Take this version of “What I’m Doing Here,” a song by Lake Street Dive, sung by Rachael Price.

This blues piece was written by Price herself, who is a trained jazz singer. Right around 2:06, she sings at comparatively lower notes, followed by a crescendo where she hits an extremely high note before dropping back down immediately afterward. The quick turnaround between the high and low notes, combined with the build-up in between, is climactic, surprising, and resembles wailing in a way. And if all that weren’t enough, there’s a key change a few seconds later (around 2:50) that offers another unexpected treat for the ears.

It’s more than enough to give me chills, and sometimes a lump in the back of my throat. That said, this song resonated with me during an emotionally charged time in my life; those memories undoubtedly enhance my listening experience.

If you’re looking to learn more about the innovative excellence of Lake Street Dive, in addition to buying all their albums, you should read this extremely well written musicological piece on them: “Lake Street Dive: Searching for the Unexpected Chord” (H/T: Progarchy editor Carl E. Olson).

One thought on “Chilling Out: The Biological Pleasures of Exciting Music @LakeStreetDive

  1. carleolson

    Great post, TL. I’ve listened to “What Am I Doing Here?” countless times, and it always gives me chills. Pure vocal brilliance.



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