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Musical Chills and Thrills

Monday, December 05, 2011

Scientists call them thrills, frisson, and even "skin orgasms.” They’re the very real experience of chills and shivers from listening to music. Some people have them every day – others might never experience a guitar-inspired goosebump. The psychologist Paul Silvia says it might have something to do with your personality…and a great hook. He joins us for a skin-tingling listen.

Listeners: Does music give you goosebumps or chills? Tell us about it, below.


Paul Silvia

Comments [127]

Suzi from mn

for me it is always my favorite bands. top one would be Deer Tick. His voice is the trigger. But in the past there have been others that still that to me. it is a gentle tingling moving all over just the right side of my scalp! Yes Has to be Deer Tick!!!!!

Jun. 30 2014 04:41 PM
Bernd Willimek from Bretten / Germany

Music and Emotions

The most difficult problem in answering the question of how music creates emotions is likely to be the fact that assignments of musical elements and emotions can never be defined clearly. The solution of this problem is the Theory of Musical Equilibration. It says that music can't convey any emotion at all, but merely volitional processes, the music listener identifies with. Then in the process of identifying the volitional processes are colored with emotions. The same happens when we watch an exciting film and identify with the volitional processes of our favorite figures. Here, too, just the process of identification generates emotions.

An example: If you perceive a major chord, you normally identify with the will "Yes, I want to...". The experience of listening to a minor chord can be compared to the message conveyed when someone says, "No more." If someone were to say these words slowly and quietly, they would create the impression of being sad, whereas if they were to scream it quickly and loudly, they would be come across as furious. This distinction also applies for the emotional character of a minor chord: if a minor harmony is repeated faster and at greater volume, its sad nature appears to have suddenly turned into fury.

Because this detour of emotions via volitional processes was not detected, also all music psychological and neurological experiments, to answer the question of the origin of the emotions in the music, failed.

But how music can convey volitional processes? These volitional processes have something to do with the phenomena which early music theorists called "lead", "leading tone" or "striving effects". If we reverse this musical phenomena in imagination into its opposite (not the sound wants to change - but the listener identifies with a will not to change the sound) we have found the contents of will, the music listener identifies with. In practice, everything becomes a bit more complicated, so that even more sophisticated volitional processes can be represented musically.

Further information is available via the free download of the e-book "Music and Emotion - Research on the Theory of Musical Equilibration:

or on the online journal EUNOMIOS:

Enjoy reading

Bernd Willimek, music theorist

Feb. 19 2014 03:52 AM
Charlie Taylor from Chelsea, MI

This is one of the most amazing strings of comments I've ever SEEN! We recently hosted a part where each person was to send the name of a song that chilled them in late teenage...Everyone loved the play list!

Jan. 11 2012 10:31 PM
joseph from nyc

had rarely thought about which songs give goosebumps and which don't. but, Every Mother's Son by Traffic hits the mark every time... "Can you please help, my god, i think its only fair"...

Dec. 07 2011 10:02 PM

Niccolò Paganini - Caprice No. 1 " The Arpeggio" in E major: Andante

Dec. 07 2011 10:01 AM
John from Sarnia, Ontario

Hearing a strange and wonderful juxaposition of two pieces of music that seem linked by syncronicity will give me the chills. Nick Drake's "Bird Flew By" followed immediately by Abbey Lincon's "Bird Alone" does this for me. The dying chord of Nick's guitar is almost answered by Hank Jones' piano like they were in the same room together. Chills!

Dec. 06 2011 10:36 PM
Ry Pepper from NYC

Imogen Heap - Hide and Seek
Goosebumps every time.

Dec. 06 2011 10:35 PM

Certain musical devices do it for me, though not always. Songs that modulate in key, especially from a Major key to a minor one, The last part of Aerosmith's Dream On comes to mind. Songs with descending chromatic melodies too. The instrument that always gets to me (especially in a rock and roll setting) is the cello, something about the freq range I think just sings to me, think about the "Unplugged" appearance of Nirvana.

Dec. 06 2011 11:13 AM
Dorothy from New Jersey

Since 1996 I have produced a large, musically choreographed, annual fireworks display. It's a private, non-Independence Day show, which provides a lot of freedom for selecting the music.

With the choreographer, I assemble a new, custom soundtrack for each year's edition. Dr. Silvia’s research helped me understand why some of my soundtracks make a bigger impression than others; why each year some people can invariably tell me “best yet!” (and be right); and also provided a fresh perspective on my assemblage of musical ideas as I begin thinking about the 2012 production. Great work!

Dec. 06 2011 12:42 AM
Syph from Clawson, MI

I think Trance (a sub genre of electronic) is designed to give you tingles.

But before I discovered electronic, at the start of my Sophomore year at MSU ('01), I actually made a mix CD I named "songs that make me tingle". It had
Linkin Park - My December
Dave Mathews Band - #41
Bizzy Bone - Fried Day
Rehab - Don't Matter
And now im sad that's all I can remember...

Most recent songs to score tingles:
Avicii - Levels
M83 - Midnite City
Rise Against - Help is on the Way
Skrillex - Long Drive (with friends)

Dec. 05 2011 10:54 PM
Bashi from Randolph, NJ Pavaroti Nesum Dorma & Others, Moody Blues English Sunset, Wildest Dreams: : , The Beatles, various Bob Dylan, Beach Boys on a Sunny Winter or Summer day driving sunroof open, many others. Renee Fleming O mio babino caro, Hendrix,
As always great show john

Dec. 05 2011 10:49 PM
lex from Brooklyn

I must sadly agree with John's comment just now about being moved by music you don't like: I always cry if I hear that stupid Aerosmith song "Don't want to miss a thing" ever since seeing that movie with Bruce Willis and Liv Tyler.

Dec. 05 2011 10:35 PM
James from Bensonhurst, BK

Jimi Hendrix's more contemplative songs... the instrumental at the end of Bold as Love gives me shivers, it's so burstingly beautiful.

Dec. 05 2011 08:48 PM
vitaleric from manhattan

I was about seven years old sitting at the bottom of the staircase putting on a pair of roller skates. From out of my sister's room upstairs Jumping Jack Flash blasted out of her stereo and reverberated down the stairs. Chills down the back of my neck. Whew!

Dec. 05 2011 07:48 PM
Greg from Greenpoint

My father; a pianist, arranger & composer, would get very excited whenever the Hogan's Hero's show would come on. He got chills from the interplay of the counterpoint melody played against the main melody. He would invariably come running into the room when I was a kid whenever I had the show on and explain to me how great it was.

Dec. 05 2011 04:46 PM
Ethan from Bethel CT

Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum. The misty organ in the beginning immediately sets the tone for an emotional, ethereal song.

Dec. 05 2011 04:13 PM

if something is a "manipulative trick",from a sonic perspective,and it moves one,who bloody cares! if it moves ya, it moves ya. some of you are seriously close, to being dangerously anal for goodness sake..!

Dec. 05 2011 03:18 PM
Jim from Manhattan

I must admit, for me, this happens all the time with all kinds of different music. My experience is more of a punch in the gut kind of feeling but the goose bumps always follow. From Mozart to Glass, Beatles to James Brown, Foo Fighters to The Beastie a band and I can name one or two songs that give me that feeling. Even songs I don't particularly like, say Neil Diamond, or James Taylor (Yikes)! Never really happens to me with country music but there are a couple maybe...and truly never with any song ever written for a broadway musical. I thought it was just me but now I wonder if this could happen to others? My latest chills came the other night when I saw The Black Keys on Saturday Night Live. Gold on the Ceiling just floored me.

Dec. 05 2011 03:08 PM
Jim from Brooklyn, NY

Dolmen Music by Meredith Monk, every time.

Dec. 05 2011 03:01 PM
jake wood from Lafayette, IN

Flower Duet:
That's by Leo Delibes; the opera is Lakme. It also brings tears to my eyes (the music, not my "duh" moment).

Dec. 05 2011 03:01 PM
Fred Derf

Wow,, 100+ comments! Is that a record?

Dec. 05 2011 02:54 PM
Allie Mason from Montrea, Canada

"Nine Pound Steel" by Snooks Eaglin from the Putomayo World Music album Louisiana Gumbo. Gets me everytime.

Dec. 05 2011 02:49 PM
K8 from Glen Ridge

I really don't like it it- feels like creepy crawlies and as indicated in my previous comment always on things that I find annoying especially tenors and sopranos. As a big napper at the opera, that soprano, will wake me in the midst of a really nasty tingle that starts at the back of my neck.

Dec. 05 2011 02:47 PM

Carnavalia, by Tropicalistas. An anthemic Brazilian song, rife with beats, major/minor transitions and delayed climaxes... gets me every single time I listen to it (which has been many times, over many years).

Dec. 05 2011 02:46 PM
Jess Korman

You keep talking about "music"... What this is all about are technical effects, gimmicks, time-honored
tricks that composers have used forever, in both classical and pop music, in movies, etc ... something as simple as a modulation in a song or a track can bring a chill..
These are all manipulative tricks -
effective tools IN music...they're not "music"

Dec. 05 2011 02:43 PM
GH from Jersey

Neil Young: Cortez The Killer- the guitar passages are transcendent.

Dec. 05 2011 02:42 PM
Carol from Madison, NJ

I attended a Christmas concert yesterday of the Masterwork Chorus in NJ. For the first half of the concert I was perfectly content to listen unemotionally to Michael Hayden's mass. It seemed mechanistic, kind of Mozart-y, and I appreciated it I guess you could say academically. THEN came the Respighi Laud to the Nativity. I had never heard it before and there I was, falling apart in my seat, eyes tearing, heart racing. God, it's beautiful and I've been searching for a recording since I got home!

Dec. 05 2011 02:40 PM
Jake Wood from Lafayette, IN

The Flower Duet by Lakme:
The first time I heard it I got that thrill from the scalp down. Just thinking about it nearly does it for me. When I hear this piece, I have to stop what-ever I'm doing and listen.

Dec. 05 2011 02:39 PM
oost from brooklyn

I got chills just this morning when PJ Harvey's "the words that maketh murder" came on the radio. I depend on those chills as an artist!

Dec. 05 2011 02:39 PM
duck from greenpoint

It's as stereotypical a 'money note' as you can find, but the chord change (I think) about 2:50 into Michael Jackson's 'Man in the Mirror' never fails to send a warm tingle up my spine and tears to my eyes. I'm a grown-ass woman, and I cannot listen to this song in public. It's weird.

Dec. 05 2011 02:39 PM
Diane from Westchester

I don't notice getting goosebumps when I'm listening to music that often, but listening to this show...I'm getting them all over the place. So do you think the element of surprise has anything to do with the "chills"?

Dec. 05 2011 02:38 PM
Mayur from Brooklyn

Every time I hear Zeppelin's "No Quarter" the hairs on my neck stand at attention. Something about the haunting organ and the desolate adventure ... Also, the open to The Who's "Baba O'Reilly"!

Dec. 05 2011 02:38 PM
Gerard from Edison, NJ

Listening to music can give me the chills. But for me - and unlike most addictions that require more of the desired thing - the experience always seems to produce diminishing returns with continued listening. It's difficult to achieve "more" from a song, given its finite attributes. So I usually have to envelop myself in it through more extreme or perspective-changing measures: louder or more full-sounding speakers. Or a concert, when the artist tweaks a lyric just so.
The last song to hit me all at once, and give me that universal one-ness feeling was Panda Bear's "Last Night at the Jetty." Its build-up is spectacular, climaxing in a sort of galaxy-ish whirl, coinciding with lyrics that all but overflow with unbridled, youthful, shouting-from-a-bike enthusiasm. And then the simple message of never being able to shake a great memory you had with a friend (or that's how I read it, at least). It's perfect, and the returns have diminished slowly for this song.

Dec. 05 2011 02:38 PM
Michelle Adams from Manhattan NY

Yes, I try to STOP the chills to the "Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree" at that line I mentioned above because I don't like being so easily manipulated. As a person who tries to be more rational than emotional, it bothers me that I have no control over these chills at this emotion part of the song. :)

Dec. 05 2011 02:37 PM

some latin jazz,much as i love it ,can get too intensely rhapsodic.

Dec. 05 2011 02:37 PM
Laurel from New Orleans, LA

I become all misty eyed listening to the U2 + Greenday version of the 'Saints are Coming' from the re-opening of the Superdome post Katrina.

Dec. 05 2011 02:36 PM
Rachel Perera from New York, NY

Nearly every time, even after watching for days and weeks, I get chills when I hear NBC's theme music for the Olympic Games.

Dec. 05 2011 02:35 PM
Darren in NJ from The Garden State

I just felt it - listening to that Led Zep clip! Thanks! I've felt it thousands of times, but I'm thinking of two egs.: The Olympics anthem, and the album "Live Dead", particularly during "St. Stephen" into "The Eleven."

Dec. 05 2011 02:35 PM
Paula from Patchogue

live music -great singers in small clubs where you are close to the artist - and they are singing intimately something that you don't always hear them sing and you have that - "oh so that is what everyone is talking about" feeling. I also love the big orchestral works and certain wonderful operatic voices. I relate to what the person said about hearing the "call to prayer" and understanding how the religious impulse works -I love to hear believers sing and play -whatever the form.

Dec. 05 2011 02:35 PM

N diamond. "solitary man" and "brooklyn roads"

Dec. 05 2011 02:35 PM
jennifer from bx

what always gives me chills is the Rock of Ages' version of Rag Mama Rag, esp the beginning. i want to download it to ring my cell phone.

Dec. 05 2011 02:34 PM
ian from Bk

I can relate to that feeling of vastness in goosebump moments with music, e.g. Slowdive - Souvlaki Space Station.

The sweeping depth and space created by the music and haunting vocals. A different quality from other shoegaze that's closer to a wall of sound.

Also consider Untitled on Interpol's first record; Ben Frost's Theory of Machines.

Dec. 05 2011 02:34 PM
Jim from Brooklyn, NY

BAGPIPES! Some people hate 'em... I love 'em. I hear them on the radio or in the distance near a graveyard and I start crying. They played at my grandfathers funeral... so there yah go.

Dec. 05 2011 02:34 PM
mike from new jersey

The crescendo from the beatles a day in the life at the end followed by the piano chord strikes the ultimate chill.

Dec. 05 2011 02:33 PM
Brad from NYC Area

Why does some music make me burst into tears, even when I don't understand the lyrics explicitly?

I feel like I'm meeting an angel who is in the process of saving my life.

ex: "Hide and Seek", by Imogen Heap

Dec. 05 2011 02:33 PM
Logan from Brooklyn

Hi John & Paul,

I wonder if this effect can be primed?

Also, this conversation reminds me of organ music: it's dynamic, complex sound that surrounds the listener.


Dec. 05 2011 02:33 PM
Karen from New Jersey

Beethoven's Appasionata, George Harrsion's
My Guitar Gently Weep do it every time for me.

Dec. 05 2011 02:32 PM
Craig Fahle from Detroit

For me, its the quieter moments that cause goosebumps. The tail end of "Appalachian Spring" by Aaron Copland does it every time. You have to listen so carefully to hear it. The same for the second movement in Beethoven's fifth. It's caused goosebumps since I was a very young child.

Dec. 05 2011 02:32 PM

A friend of mine with Parkinson's who suffers the constant and symptomatic "shivers" of the disease. BUT when he attends a dance class and as he dances, the shakes are gone!

Dec. 05 2011 02:32 PM
David from West Hempstead

Tiny band out of Chicago called Eastern Blok. Gates to the Unknown. Amazing stuff.

Dec. 05 2011 02:31 PM
martha mooke from Rockland County

re: Barbra Streisand

I got chills while playing the US & European tours everytime we'd start the Funny Girl Overture and the crowd would go WILD!!

(when I play my own music on electric viola, I go for a different kind of "chill"!

Dec. 05 2011 02:31 PM
Ben Butler from brooklyn

Does the performer feel the same?
It would be interesting to ask the performer or the composer if they felt the same chills at the same moment as the listener. I would say often it would be no!

Dec. 05 2011 02:31 PM
Gloria from New York City

I get goose bumps every time from the first chord of Stravinsky's Duo Concertante- it's not grandness, it's a special sound that gets under the skin. And then the entire piece delivers that quivering knife's edge thrill haunting sound.

Dec. 05 2011 02:31 PM

Ride of the Valkurie
Nessum Dorma by Pavarotti &
Voodoo Child (slight return0

Dec. 05 2011 02:31 PM
Roberta from Jersey City

Nessun Dorma from Puccini's Turandot

Dec. 05 2011 02:31 PM

I saw Paul Simon sing Sounds of Silence at the 911 memorial. I didn't even see it live, but on Youtube and he almost spoke the first verse. I got the back of the neck, down your spine chills you describe, right before I burst into tears.

Dec. 05 2011 02:30 PM

Thrills & Chills
One song that has given me chills for many, many years is "Nights In White Satin" as it starts softly and the end builds while singing "and I love you" followed by a musical swells again.

Dec. 05 2011 02:30 PM
Kurt from Brooklyn

For me, the chills always arrive when an artist manages to capture the "story" - Damien Jurado and Trent Reznor are two songwriters that come to mind.

Dec. 05 2011 02:29 PM

miles davis.."sketches of spain" or the motiff of the, cancion de aranjuez,which is the theme that sketches is based on,by joaquin rodrigo. also "fanfare for the common man" -aaron copeland. yes sir...!
moving beyond words.....

Dec. 05 2011 02:29 PM
Matt Brown from Brooklyn

"Somewhere" from West Side Story. "Send in the Clowns." I am sure it's related to these being the Grand Finales of Marching Band shows I was in, but there's just such drama and emotion in these songs.

Dec. 05 2011 02:29 PM
Frank Grimaldi from East Village

I don't easily get the chills but a song that always does it for me is Jeff Buckley's "The Sky Is A Landfill." I think it's his high notes but it also may be the very powerful lyric.

Dec. 05 2011 02:29 PM
Ellis Peters from Harlem, NYC

House music always makes me feel like dancing. No matter what mood I'm in. Music has saved my life.... It can pull me back from being depressed. More research, please...!

Dec. 05 2011 02:29 PM
Glenn from Redford, MI

"ode to joy" gets alot of folk. I think it's the chorus and the chord progressions.

Dec. 05 2011 02:28 PM
rita from LI

Mahler's 2nd - the very end
Paul Winter- Common Greound: Wolf Song.

Dec. 05 2011 02:28 PM
Peter from Berkeley Heights, NJ

Funny, the above mentioned. Streets Have No Name and No Cars Go are definitely two that can have the effect on me. Another song that springs to mind, Springsteen's Something in the Night, especially the opening and closing vocal wails by Bruce. Perfect.

Dec. 05 2011 02:28 PM
Phil from Bronx, NY

I have seen U2 38 times in my life and there is no more magical musical moment to me than when they play "Where the Streets Have No Name" in a stadium or arena with thousands of others. I even get the feeling sometimes when I see a youtube video of a live performance of the song.

Dec. 05 2011 02:28 PM
Zoe from Astoria

Chopin's Raindrop Prelude - but only when I play it, I'm too focused on dissecting the piece when listening to someone else.

Dec. 05 2011 02:28 PM
siouxan from Bronx

Three pieces of music jump to mind:

Rhapsody in Blue/Gershwin

Blue Danube/Strauss

Astronome Domine/Early Floyd/Barrett

The Mooche/Ellington

play them all at my funeral!

Dec. 05 2011 02:27 PM
G.L.O. from Actoria, NYC

Sam Cooke, A Change is Gonna Come. Without fail, every time. Not the song, not Sam Cooke. But Sam Cooke singing That Song.

Dec. 05 2011 02:27 PM
Kevin Meeks from Grosse Pointe pARK mI.

I get chills from John Barry's Out oif Afica and when I hear drums in unison like the Japanese drummers. Also feel a chill when I hear cadenance such as Michael Flatleys dancers or marchers.

Dec. 05 2011 02:27 PM
Benjamin from Manhattan

Curious if what you were experiencing/environment at the time you heard the song for the first time adds to the listeners physical reaction - recalling a first date for example.

Dec. 05 2011 02:26 PM
suzanne from brooklyn

Always -Radioheads 'Paranoid Android'

And the instrumental ending sequence to Eric Clapton's Layla. The chills might actually be the brought on by its connection to the Good Fella's 'dead bodies in the meat locker' montage.

Dec. 05 2011 02:26 PM
James from Detroit

Highs lows and everything in between, a Glitch Mob remix of Derezzed by Daft Punk hits me every time.

Dec. 05 2011 02:26 PM
Nance from Raritan,NJ from Raritan, NJ

"Killing Me Softly"
Roberta Flack

for me exquisite sensual elicitations of great or lost loves.

Dec. 05 2011 02:25 PM
Caroline from NYC

Always happens to me listening to music. A prime chill-producer for me is Chanticleer's Cells Planets - the combination of lyric and pure/soaring vocals blows my mind on every listen.

Dec. 05 2011 02:25 PM
Pieter from Brooklyn

For me it's any song that seems "epic". Great opening, middle, and end. Examples would be Depeche Mode's Never Let Me Down Again, U2's Where The Streets Have No Name, Joy Division Love Will Tear Us Apart, etc. A newer track might be Elbow's Birds.

Dec. 05 2011 02:25 PM
Frank from Newark

Copland - Fanfare for the Common Man. That one allways does it for me. Listen to it on a real good system.

Dec. 05 2011 02:25 PM
D\R from suburbia

I am moved to both chills and tears when I hear a live performances, it can be Copeland, RENT the musical,old time banjo music, or Ravel. It just hits me somewhere deep and its like someone turns on a faucet.

Dec. 05 2011 02:25 PM
Allen Brooklyn from Brooklyn

Physiology aside; the lyrical realization of an absolute truth that applies to ones life on a personal level will do it without question.

Dec. 05 2011 02:25 PM
Margo from Brooklyn

You just played "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and I got the bumps! My friends and I call them our "chills songs". I have tons. "White Girl" and "Fourth of July" by X, lots of Belle and Sebastian, I could go on. You talked about dramatic dynamics in songs can do this. This makes me think of The Laughing Hyenas. If you've never heard them, look them up!

Dec. 05 2011 02:25 PM
mike from bridgeport, ct

The Grateful Dead- Acoustic Envelope, the whole spectrum of sound

Dec. 05 2011 02:25 PM

Wow! I never thought about this topic before but there I was, standing at the kitchen counter slicing celery and sno peas, and when you played the clip from the Messiah I got wave after wave of chills, from my shoulders down the outsides of my arms and then down the front of thighs to my knees! Cool! And it happened again with the U2 clip. This probably happens to a lot of people: it happens but we are not conscious of it.

Dec. 05 2011 02:24 PM

Radiohead's "Let Down" when Thom signs over himself at different octaves. Perfection......

Dec. 05 2011 02:24 PM
Rich from NJ

Simon and Garfunkel's "America"

Dec. 05 2011 02:24 PM
Dave from Manhattan

Big & spacious are factors (whether Handel's Messiah or Phil Spector's Wall of Sound production style), but it's vocal harmony that is the biggest factor for me.

Dec. 05 2011 02:24 PM
Helen from Woodside

Singer-songwriter Patty Larkin's haunting song "Danny," about a fisherman being lost at sea, has a chilling base throughline that captures the terror of being swallowed by an angry sea.

Dec. 05 2011 02:24 PM
Jim B

One famous rock critic whose name escapes me says that the opening to Meat Loaf's "Bat Out of Hell" does it for him (but give credit to Todd Rundgren).

Dec. 05 2011 02:24 PM
David from Long Island City

Just thinking about the last few minutes of Mahler's 8th symphony gives me the vast-spaces goosebumps. It isn't nicknamed the Symphony of a Thousand for nothing.

Dec. 05 2011 02:23 PM
Harley from Queens, NY

It depends on my mood.
Sometimes a piece of music can touch me from the first listen, and other times it is about a connection I have made to the song. An association with some event that can give me those goose bumps. And yet other times it is a feeling that develops after repeated listens and the song takes on a new life as I listen to and hear it in a different context.

Dec. 05 2011 02:23 PM
Natasha from Brooklyn, NY

I am getting chills and goosebumps sitting here listening to the segment and remembering the countless times I have experienced this effect!

There are so many different songs that I have done this to me that I can't start to list them. Classical, rock, arabic music, gamelan....

Perhaps the sensitivity of my nervous system is turned up to 10.

Dec. 05 2011 02:23 PM
Michelle Adams from Manhattan, NY

For me, chills usually come from exceptional or a satisfying resolve. But the one song that gives me (and my mother) chills every time is "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree".... always right at the moment where he sings "and what is it that I see? . . . a HUNDRED yellow ribbons round the old oak tree. I'm coming home!" Here it is an emotional chill because of what is happening in the song.

Dec. 05 2011 02:23 PM
Nick from UWS

The thing that gives me chills is emotional truth in the singer's voice or instrument. Or a moment that I call "musical truth". It doesn't have to be loud or big. It can be very small and intimate. But that's what does it. One of the biggest thrills I ever got from music was listening to the original recording of "Blowing In The Wind" by Bob Dylan in headphones. Just knocked me over.

Dec. 05 2011 02:23 PM
Ivan from Manhattan

Paul's theory on musical largeness giving goosebumps may be true, but the same can be said for music that is the opposite: hauntingly intimate and taking great advantage of silence.
Many guitar works by Leo Brouwer, middle chunks of Ravel's Left Hand piano concerto come immediately to mind.

Dec. 05 2011 02:22 PM

With me it can go further than chills. As an example, I just attended a Broadway musical and as the music started and the curtain went up there were the chills, etc. but also tears of joy. This often happens, especially with live music.

Dec. 05 2011 02:22 PM
DANNY from manhattan

Mahler's Fifth Symphony, expecially the last few minutes of the finale. It's about big sound, but also technical intensity. I think this is what makes Bach fugues extremely chill-inducing.

Dec. 05 2011 02:22 PM
Emily from Brooklyn

The first time I experienced this was as a 20-year-old exchange student in Cairo. Our tour guide paid the muezzin at a mosque to sing the call to prayer under the dome. I had no idea this was about to happen, and when it did, it stopped me in my tracks.
That's the closest I've ever come to understanding what might motivate religious impulse. Do you think that this phenomenon of music-induced chills is related to religious feeling?

Dec. 05 2011 02:22 PM
k8 from Glen Ridge

As some one that dislikes tenors and sopranos on priciple it is always one after a quietness in the score.

Dec. 05 2011 02:21 PM
Willie Wolf from Greenpoint

Duke Ellington's Ad Lib On Nippon. does it to me every time, from the syncopation without backbeat, Duke's moaning, The list goes on. Sometimes I can't even finish it I get overwhelmed.

Dec. 05 2011 02:21 PM
Andy from NC

I mosts commonly get goosebumps when I am moved by a great performance of the national anthem.

Dec. 05 2011 02:21 PM

I find the effect most when the sound is what I think of as "piercing," such as the horns in Mozart's Horn Concerto, or very good bagpipe playing. [I realize some would say this last is an oxymoron.]

Dec. 05 2011 02:20 PM
Melissa Deutsch from Montclair, NJ

You just played it. Every time I hear U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name" it's as if an electric wave shoots through my entire body. In concert, the experience is strong enough to make me feel like my feet are no longer touching the ground. No wonder Bono calls this the song "where God walks into the room."

Dec. 05 2011 02:20 PM
Ted in Atlanta

Bjork - hidden place - it is crazy!

Dec. 05 2011 02:19 PM
Anastasiya from New York, NY

Always, when I listen to Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" and Winter season in particular.

Dec. 05 2011 02:18 PM
John from Inwood

I haven't thought about it in years, but my first experience with this was as a teenager, when I first heard the John Bonham drum riff between the two "parts" of "Stairway to Heaven." At 15, it was transcendent.

P.S.: UNCG represent!

Dec. 05 2011 02:18 PM
Lara McDonnell from nyc

I concur with the comments on Samuel Barber's Adagio. In addition, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring hits me in the gut every time - much more than the Hallelujah chorus ever could.
In terms of expansiveness - Copeland creates worlds around us. It is an experience that seems to change my perception of self and space around me while I listen.

Dec. 05 2011 02:17 PM

This tends to happy for me with Arcade Fire's "No Cars Go" (though I usually don't like them - go figure) and Kate Bush's "Cloudbusting."

Dec. 05 2011 02:17 PM
John from Queens NY

Yes, for me its been Bach's Brandenberg concerti. My brain feels like it's being touched by God! - John

Dec. 05 2011 02:15 PM
carolita from NYC

Carmina Burana, almost every song.

Dec. 05 2011 02:15 PM
md from Edison NJ

Insane Ian Gillan scream on "What's the buzz?" on the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack.

Dec. 05 2011 02:11 PM
Bonnie from Brooklyn, NY

major chills/goosebumps and heart racing from a few Tori amos concert performances

Dec. 05 2011 02:10 PM
Danielle from Queens

Maybe it goes without saying... but Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings gets me every time!

Dec. 05 2011 02:09 PM
Darrell from Prospect Heights

I have a very poignant memory of listening to Monkey Wrench by the Foo Fighters as a kid in high school and experiencing the most remarkable whole-body thrill at the apex of Dave's brutal, throat-wrenching scream... possibly the most intense music-inspired frisson I've ever experienced.

On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, Samuel Barber's Agnus Dei gives me goosebumps almost every time I listen to it.

Dec. 05 2011 02:09 PM
Mark from NJ

Julita Ross - Que Felicidad
(available on youtube)
This Puerto Rican danza just makes me shiver every time. Female/Male vocals intertwining. Strings and guitar counterpoint. Incredibly dense and at the same time very minimal. Great hooks. I think this song has it all and the meaning of the lyrics is beautiful as well.

Also, Maude Maggart singing The River is So Blue (Kurt Weill).

Generally im an instrumentalist kind of listener, but a really idiosyncratic vocalist is probably more likely to give me chills more than anything else.

Dec. 05 2011 02:09 PM
Danielle from Queens

Maybe it goes without saying... but Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings gets me every time!

Dec. 05 2011 02:08 PM
Katherine from Brooklyn

"My Country" by Curtis Mayfield. The minor chord switch on the line "I paid 300 years or more."

Dec. 05 2011 02:06 PM
betty from beacon

Donovan's Catch the Wind. Every time. That youtube video of Stevie nicks singing "wild heart" - the purity of it. Pure joy.

Anxious to hear the show - it seems like should always be related to the lyrics and meaning, but so often it's the actual music.

Dec. 05 2011 02:05 PM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

Dead Can Dance's "Host Of Seraphim" as sung by Lisa Gerrard. One of the most moving songs I have ever heard. I used to have trouble listening to it without getting choked up.

It was used to great effect in the movie "Baraka"

Dec. 05 2011 02:04 PM
Darren in NJ from The Garden State

Peter Wolf (of J. Geils fame) has called it:
"the chill factor."

Dec. 05 2011 02:03 PM
Wayne Johnson Ph.D. from Brooklyn

Richard Harris' interpretation of MacArthur Park

Dec. 05 2011 01:51 PM
Robots Need to Party from NYC

Hyper On Experience's track Lord of the Null Lines destroys me. I have to go find it to hear it because it's unlikely to get any radio or television play but when I do chills and goosebumps ensue. I believe it is partially due to my memory recall of events from the time of the songs release. This is great drum and bass from when the genre matured to an artform.

Dec. 05 2011 01:47 PM
John from Long Branch

The River from Springsteen, and Edge of Seventeen from Stevie Nicks, maybe it's an adolescent thing because I'm 37!

Dec. 05 2011 01:45 PM
Ryan from Queens

I get chills even now just thinking about Bryn Terfels performance of Te Deum on PBS last night. Can't say the same about Andrea Bocelli though.

Dec. 05 2011 01:19 PM
Steve from Rockville Centre, NY

The Beach Boys "Wouldn't It be Nice", every time.

Dec. 05 2011 12:35 PM
David Tillyer from Manhattan

I'm like a deer in the middle of the road when I hear the humming chorus from Madama Butterfly. It causes all multi-tasking to stop.

Dec. 05 2011 12:04 PM
eb from Finland

The very first note of Mozart's Requiem does that for me, every time.

Dec. 05 2011 11:20 AM
Jim from New Hampshire

It is not just limited to guitars. Any instrument can work it for me, and skin orgasm is a very accurate description. At times they just happen seeming at random, but some musical passages will do it almost every time. The crescendo of Tangerine Dream’s Stratosphere will do it for me 9 times out of 10.

Dec. 03 2011 03:03 PM
Matt from Brooklyn

Every so often I'll hear a guitar hook or a swelling string arrangement in a song that leaves me a little tingly, but seeing some of my favorite bands in person has been a little more reliable for this phenomenon. The first time I saw Radiohead is one example, and the same goes for Sleater-Kinney, Elbow, and others.

Dec. 03 2011 02:20 PM

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