"I'll have what she's having" - Music-induced "skin orgasms"
May 30, 2016 4:34 PM   Subscribe

Frisson (Wikipedia), dubbed "skin orgasms" by some researchers, is the sensation of shivers, often accompanied by the physical manifestation of goosebumps, which some listeners experience in response to particularly emotional or unexpected passages in music. Writing in The Conversation, Ph.D. candidate Mitchell Colver explores "Why do only some people get 'skin orgasms' from listening to music?"

More on "skin orgasms", this July 2015 article in BBC Future.
posted by rekrap (108 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
 
cat < $in < $asmr | more
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 4:38 PM on May 30, 2016 [2 favorites]




"skin orgasms"

I think we might be selling actual orgasms a LITTLE short here...
posted by selfnoise at 4:45 PM on May 30, 2016 [39 favorites]


I had no idea this wasn't universal and I feel so so sorry for people who have never experienced frisson.

I think we might be selling actual orgasms a LITTLE short here...

I've had this happen with an intensity that felt like I was transcending my goddam physical existence.
posted by Sternmeyer at 4:49 PM on May 30, 2016 [36 favorites]


I love this term. There's lots of music that does this to me, but Galaxie 500s cover of Ceremony -- you know that part at the end, when the bass comes in and you realize there had been no bass (in a song with an iconic bass line), and the tambourine, and Dean singing "Foreeeeeeever!"? Skin orgasm every single time.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 5:02 PM on May 30, 2016 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I am a little torn on the "skin orgasms" nomenclature (especially since there seems to be a sort of panicky THIS ISN'T DIRTY I SWEAR vibe to all discussions of ASMR) because on one hand, settle down, but on the other, it can actually be pretty intense. Frisson is a pretty great word on its own. And I know it makes the Frissonians angry to be lumped in with the Asmerians but...they are exceptionally similar poorly-understood neurological twitches.

I have had the experience a few times in my life, but (like ASMR, for me) it seems to have to be both in-person and unexpected for it to work.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:05 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Not everyone gets this? That's fascinating.

I remember the first time I heard this I got a fairly strong frisson effect - Susanne Sundfør - The Brothel. I still get a bit even now.
posted by knapah at 5:09 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


I do not get skin orgasms but I can understand this. Is it possible that having these is similar to being a supertaster, foodwise?
posted by beagle at 5:14 PM on May 30, 2016


I had assumed this was universal.
posted by stoneweaver at 5:15 PM on May 30, 2016


"skin orgasm" is hard to like. frisson (meaning "aesthetic chill") feels better, though lacking romance. I don't ever remember not getting them, my earliest memories going back to this track, when the strings come in just short of the three minute point.
posted by philip-random at 5:19 PM on May 30, 2016 [6 favorites]


I get this, and had no idea it was an experience other people have, or that it had a name, despite knowing and having used the word frisson for many years. I never managed to connect the name with the concept, especially since I usually see frisson used more about fear ("A frisson shook her as she realized the call had come from inside the house" sort of thing.)

Neat.
posted by Rush-That-Speaks at 5:25 PM on May 30, 2016


We truly live in the age of "love to put stupid label on everything".
I'm going to have to come up with a name for that though.
posted by bongo_x at 5:29 PM on May 30, 2016 [17 favorites]


MBV Lovemess and mbv. Hurrrrrrrrrrrrrrgnf....
posted by Cookiebastard at 5:39 PM on May 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


This happens to me with way more then just music. I didn't know it doesn't happen to everyone. I also didn't know it had a name. Not sure about skin orgasms but it does feel really good when it happens.
posted by Jalliah at 5:39 PM on May 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


I get this, too, and the feeling is so very satisfying. I intentionally seek it out.

I've been curious how this compares to ASMR, since no ASMR video of, well, anything, has ever produced any physical sensation for me.

Interestingly, the five samples used in the study did not produce the effect in me, while the Susan Boyle video did as well as the Lady Gaga Star Spangled Banner performance.

A couple of my go-to frisson vids:
-- Chris Stapleton & Justin Timberlake's CMA performance of Tennessee Whiskey
-- This fantastic live performance of Jenny Says by Cowboy Mouth

Now I'm wondering if the live-audience reaction to these performances is what helps create the frisson for me.. Hmmm...
posted by bologna on wry at 5:41 PM on May 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


This happens to me a lot. Music can induce two states -- the rapturous "frission" talked about here, and also when I'm listening intently with my eye closed, a dreamlike fugue-state when I slowly lose sensation of my body altogether. Music can occasionally make me cry, though that response is varied depending on my mood. I openly wept with joy at both recent Los Lobos concerts, and a little bit at Leonard Cohen as well & John Prine aways sets me off with Sam Stone & Hello In There whenever I see him, but I'm a big blubbering sentimental sap. I cried like a baby at the end of the last Bowie album, but that was in response to his death.

The two pieces of music that ALWAYS make the hair stand up on the back of my neck, 100% of the time are Bowie's version of Wild Is The Wind, & Dusty Springfield's version of Windmills of Your Mind, in particular when she goes up into a higher register for the "Lovers walk along the shore and leave their footprints in the sand, Is the sound of distant drumming just the fingers of your hand?" line.

It seems to be the human voice expressing emotions of love & regret in a particular octave that causes it with my 90% of the time, though a particularly evocative guitar solo might do it once in a while as well.

Singing is one of the truly spontaneously beautiful things that humans do that is utterly primal & I think the response is utterly primal as well. It's the one thing that keeps me from losing faith in the whole operation called Humanity sometimes.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:42 PM on May 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's definitely more than only music, or art. You can get frisson chills from doing math or science, from thinking creatively in general. Or reading this article.
posted by polymodus at 5:44 PM on May 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


I get frisson chills from some social situations (as well as music). Honestly, it's an anxiety-inducing experience to have that happening while you're trying to have an important conversation.

> Or reading this article.
I thought I was getting them reading these comments, but then I noticed the A/C was blowing right on me.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 5:47 PM on May 30, 2016 [6 favorites]


Q: Can we extract power from these kinds of frisson reactions?
posted by mikurski at 5:53 PM on May 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


A: Get out of here!
posted by I-Write-Essays at 5:56 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


"skin orgasms"

aka Skoming
posted by jonmc at 5:59 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


And I know it makes the Frissonians angry to be lumped in with the Asmerians

I'm definitely a Frissonian who is not an Asmerian.

Which may be like a very low-gain ASMR? I dunno, ASMR videos do nothing for me.

For me it takes some kind of tension buildup and release, and can involve crying and a feeling of transcendence. It really has to be dramatic and fucking unsubtle, we're talking like the end of The Natural or music like this.
posted by nom de poop at 6:00 PM on May 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


Please everyone keep the frisson-triggering tunes coming. Even if all of them aren't triggering it for me, they're great jams.

Royksopp - Vision One has definitely done it for me.

I get this same feeling from certain audio cues in movies, especially during low frequency tones. For me I'd describe it as a sensory feedback loop. I hear a thing, it makes me feel a thing emotionally, which in turns triggers a physical sensation.
posted by JauntyFedora at 6:13 PM on May 30, 2016


Please everyone keep the frisson-triggering tunes coming.
YES! Please. My go to is Sigur Ros, especially Staralfur
posted by pjsky at 6:18 PM on May 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


YES LET'S. Gabriel's Oboe by Ennio Morricone.

I have also gotten it from music I DON'T EVEN LIKE *coughAndrew Lloyd Webbercough*
posted by clavicle at 6:21 PM on May 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


Research regarding the prevalence of frisson has varied widely, with studies showing anywhere between 55 percent and 86 percent of the population being able to experience the effect.

So not just some, but probably most, people do experience this.
posted by maggiemaggie at 6:22 PM on May 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


See also. Crowds singing along to pop music like a choir gives me frisson.
posted by limeonaire at 6:24 PM on May 30, 2016 [6 favorites]


From the truly boring movie MEET JOE BLACK, a magnificent score by Thomas Newman culminating in this gorgeous piece of music: That Next Place
posted by pjsky at 6:25 PM on May 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


It might just be associations from my youth, but give this classic of the flute repertoire a shot. It's a straight up schmaltzy French showpiece and IDGAF.
posted by clavicle at 6:26 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


That damned Susan Boyle video... when it was first going around I put off watching it because I was sure it would be stupid. But when I finally did watch it, not only did it give me the frisson, it made me sob like crazy, even as intellectually I knew the whole thing was a set up, edited for precisely that reaction.

The thing that drives me crazy is that the frisson can be brought about by stuff I otherwise should think of as crap. VIva La VIda does it for me as well.

During the NYC marathon, a gospel choir sings as the runners go by in front of a church a few blocks away, and I can't stand there without my hairs standing on end.
posted by maggiemaggie at 6:29 PM on May 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


Like others in this thread, strings tend to produce frisson for me. Nick Drake's River Man does it reliably, at the 2:18 mark.
posted by borborygmi at 6:34 PM on May 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


Not from music but by rubbing my palm or flat fingers over carpet or rough fabric. Fingertips don't seem to do it, but ugh! Even seeing someone do it, even imagining someone doing it is enough to make me lose all concentration and feel a physical reaction like a cat's fur standing up. I've had to ask people "Hey can you not do that? What were you saying again?" It's not at all "orgasmic" or pleasant.
posted by ctmf at 6:39 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Bill Evans's piano in Flamenco Sketches never fails for me.
posted by goofyfoot at 6:45 PM on May 30, 2016


I can induce that feeling to run over my skin through breathing, is that not something most people can do?
posted by Ferreous at 6:50 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Not from music but by rubbing my palm or flat fingers over carpet or rough fabric.

We've already established "it makes the Frissonians angry to be lumped in with the Asmerians", are you trying to start brawl here? You do not want to make the Frissonians angry.
posted by bongo_x at 6:51 PM on May 30, 2016


I'm all good with the musically induced frissons but my partner and kids all love frissons as sort of an alternative to massage. They'll run their fingers lightly over each others arms and backs to make the hairs stand up. It drives me absolutely bonkers. Pure torture. Gah.
posted by Cuke at 6:53 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've tried to watch some of those ASMR videos and they irritate the heck out of me. But I do have the frisson thing and I always assumed that that's how everyone enjoys music so...lucky us, I guess?
posted by overeducated_alligator at 6:54 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


For me it was Sheena Easton's Modern Girl. I bought the 45 single (freaked my parents out, I NEVER bought music) and I made a styrofoam jig that would fool our old auto-drop turntable into playing it over and over. Young'uns won't have any idea what I'm talking about there.
posted by Bringer Tom at 7:03 PM on May 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


This happened the other day and I was embarrassed I think it was Madonna but I forget
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:04 PM on May 30, 2016


I get this sometimes with an accompanying wave of purest shame. Wonder what that says.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 7:06 PM on May 30, 2016


"Why do only some people get 'skin orgasms' from listening to music?"

Well obviously it's because your favorite band sucks. Duh.

I do not get skin orgasms but I can understand this. Is it possible that having these is similar to being a supertaster, foodwise?

I'm a supertaster, and as far as I can tell the main effect is that I don't like a lot of foods that normal people like. I mean, yeah, there's some blander foods that I like a ton, but do I like them more than normal people like normal food? It doesn't seem like it.
posted by aubilenon at 7:13 PM on May 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


I get this sometimes with an accompanying wave of purest shame.

I wouldn't quite call it shame, but I get a thing from live performance in a small space in which I am (or am in danger of) some sort of personal intimacy with the performer (like eye contact). Like, I just cannot. Don't look at me while you're singing, for the love of god don't sing to me, please make the Mariachis go away, someone stop that busker, kill that mime, just please please please don't have that intimacy with me.

I sometimes have to leave the room when my husband does karaoke, even. It feels like embarrassment, but I'm not embarrassed for them, I'm just embarrassed for my weird raw nerves.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:14 PM on May 30, 2016 [8 favorites]


Solisbury Hill by Peter Gabriel. With most music that does it for me, I can kind of "wear it out" by listening to it too much, though sometimes I can get it back if I give it a rest a while. But it's so hard to do that!

Another instance of this happening is if I'm reading a book, say, and my hometown is name-checked without warning. Weird. And it happened to me just today when I drove past a tiny airplane that had landed on a busy highway when the engine failed. The pilot put it down perfectly, and no one was hurt, but it was something I never thought I'd see outside of a movie. All-over skin shivers. Brains are so odd.
posted by thebrokedown at 7:15 PM on May 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


Neko Case - Runnin' Out Of Fools. When she really starts belting it out it hits me every time.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:19 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Neural Mozart strap-on clavichord.
posted by clavdivs at 7:19 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Put me on team Salisbury Hill too.
posted by Bringer Tom at 7:32 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


I get little skin shivers (not nearly of the intensity to use a term like "skin orgasm") from emotionally intense scenes in books and movies, and only once in a great while from music. I had just figured that everyone had these and am surprised (though I shouldn't be) that this is not the case.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:37 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


The choral version of Barber's Adagio for Strings, Agnus Dei, especially this version, and especially starting at about 1:25.
posted by yasaman at 7:45 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


This does it for me.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:50 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh dear god I stood right up front at a Neko Case show and just fuckin frissonned all night.

5 Closers in Drum Corps That Give Chills Every Time ok, first of all I love it that some guy is making Buzzfeed style clickbait for the tiny tiny niche of drum and bugle corps fandom. B of all, the first one of these really does it for me. The big horn hit as they nail the company front is the oldest trick in the book, but there's a reason for that.
posted by clavicle at 7:55 PM on May 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


The Frissonians and Asmerians should put their differences aside and join with the Synaesthetese to rejoice in their respective sensory epiphanies.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:00 PM on May 30, 2016 [6 favorites]


Ever since I was little, there is one particular moment in one particular song that gives me that feeling more consistently than any other.

It starts at about the 11:16 mark to about 11:32 into "Do You Feel Like We Do" on the Frampton Comes Alive! album. Direct link to the spot.

This album was released a month before I was born, and it's probably the first song I heard that gave me that feeling with reasonable consistency - about 85% of the time.
posted by chambers at 8:01 PM on May 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


It seems everyone has a different thing in music they respond to with frisson -- I guess the OP says that. Most of the music in the OP didn't do much for me. I reacted to the chorus in the Bach with a startle reflex, not frisson. If I'd seen it live, I might not have, as I might have seen the chorus take a deep breath. I realized that the key-change bridge in I Dreamed A Dream has always done it for me, whether it's her singing or not -- it's something about the progression, for me, while for others it might just be the moment Susan Boyle opens her mouth and surprises you.

My experience of frisson often feels like I'm a kitten and mama cat has just taken me by the scruff of the neck -- the strong tingly feeling starts right there, and involves a feeling that the nerves going to my arms have been shut down, leaving me limp.

After a couple of years assembling a playlist that can calm me into perfect flow state at work, I've figured out the elements that get me there: bassoon, oboe, or clarinet are key, as are repetitive arpeggios or other driving patterns. Harp also helps a lot.

Frisson, though, that's harder. These are some songs that do it for me. I guess full-orchestra crescendos really do do it. Surf guitar, deployed the right way. A certain rasp of electronic fuzz shared by accordions. Uillean pipes.

But some of it I think has to do with personal memories associated with a song. Sometimes memories built on one of those instruments? (It is really really hard not to have a frisson reaction to the bassoon solos in Ciranda das Sete Notas when you first heard them in a funeral parlor, playing the piece in the cool early summer as a teenager.) Sometimes invested in them. Some of those songs I feel so intensely about I can't listen to them anymore. Some of them I can listen to every day.
posted by gusandrews at 8:05 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


And as for Peter Gabriel? Put me on team Biko. (But mostly on team David Byrne.)
posted by gusandrews at 8:07 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Lately I've been getting this from the "I just keep fighting to stay cool on the streets" part of the chorus in Lady Gaga's "Hair". I've been assuming it's some sort of harmonic progression thing that I'm not musically literate enough to identify. Whatever it is, when she lands on "streets" it feels like the aural equivalent of taking a big sheet of bubble wrap in both hands and twisting it so several dozen bubbles pop at once.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:12 PM on May 30, 2016


Love all the music recs!

I recently ordered tickets to go see Fellowship of the Ring performed by the Seattle Symphony just because of my frisson reaction to the song Breaking of the Fellowship. I've been wondering if hearing it live will make it better. Will I burst into tears? Will I swoon? Will all my hair stand on end like I'm touching one of those metal static electricity balls?
posted by ilovewinter at 8:14 PM on May 30, 2016


I was once prescribed the drug midodrine for some weirdness with low blood pressure. One of the listed side effects, enticingly, was "piloerection," which means it could make your hair stand on end. Sure enough, it gave me goosebumps, especially on my scalp. My hair was actually a little fluffier -- if it were a shampoo, I'd have used it again. Too bad I didn't think of it at the time, but it would have been cool to listen to some stirring music at the same time.

In addition to certain music, calculus can have this effect for me. Another interesting link between math and music.
posted by Corvid at 8:16 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


A few years back I made a video of what happens to my skin during the crescendo of Khachaturian's Adagio of Spartacus and Phyrgia. It's not the most thrilling thing ever recorded, but the act of setting it up and preparing for it made it more astonishing when it still happened anyway, even though I was wondering in the back of my head if somehow the anticipation of the effect would kill it.
posted by komara at 8:19 PM on May 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


Ooh, yes, komara, Khachaturian, but I couldn't put my finger on which one. I think maybe I react more to Maiden's Dance from Gayaneh, or the Armenian National Anthem (which he wrote! It is... Soviet, and fittingly... minor-key given the history of Armenia...?) I didn't find myself reacting to the same bits as your arm hairs appeared to, but then, after putting together my playlist I think I've worn out my reflex.
posted by gusandrews at 8:29 PM on May 30, 2016


I have never considered this a thing you could induce, so now I can't remember what songs/movies do it to me, but I know some have.
posted by emjaybee at 8:30 PM on May 30, 2016


We truly live in the age of "love to put stupid label on everything".

Taxonomic fetishism.
posted by Western Infidels at 8:45 PM on May 30, 2016 [18 favorites]


Sure but the age itself is called "ever since humans have had language" sooooo
posted by clavicle at 8:50 PM on May 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


My first FPP!

Although I am an enthusiastic fan of a variety of musical genres, live symphonic and choral performances are the most reliable sources of frisson for me. Fortunately, I get to see a lot of shows as a usher, performer, and parent of a music major.

Pretty much any of the plaintive solo violin entrances in Scheherezade. This is my earliest memory of frisson at 4-5 years old.

Good choral arrangements of gospel music, most recently the end of this Moses Hogan arrangement.

Dance Macabre (best part crescendo at about 5:20), Prokofiev piano concertos and solos. And,oddly enough, women's barbershop choruses.
posted by rekrap at 8:52 PM on May 30, 2016 [7 favorites]


I love this feeling! I tend to seek it out, and then listen to a song on repeat until the feeling goes away. Something about pieces that move between noise and harmony really brings it out... so it's not just a bit of the song, it has to be the entire experience. Good use of silence and pauses in the song can work, too.

(Variants of guitar and metal) Lately it's been Mudvayne's Death Blooms (I find that one better without the video...), Angel Vivaldi's Mercurian Summer, and Animals As Leaders Ka$cade.
posted by underflow at 8:52 PM on May 30, 2016


also: RACH 2

if you don't frisson in the first 40 seconds check your pulse
posted by gusandrews at 8:59 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Like others, I'm surprised to find out that so many people never feel this. The single most reliable trigger for me is Beethoven's ninth, fourth movement. Most strongly when the voices come crashing back in... I literally just had a whole body shiver remembering it to write that down! But really the whole piece is a series of frissons for me.
posted by tavella at 9:06 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's definitely more than only music, or art. You can get frisson chills from

I can get them when somebody, often a stranger or a little kid, does an unexpectedly wonderful thing -- like a sudden, penetrating shock to the wandering cloud of cynicism that I'm not even aware has enveloped me.

Solisbury Hill by Peter Gabriel. With most music that does it for me, I can kind of "wear it out" by listening to it too much, though sometimes I can get it back

a former favorite song of mine that I genuinely hope I can get back. I blame every second movie trailer from about ten years ago.
posted by philip-random at 9:06 PM on May 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


From the truly boring movie MEET JOE BLACK, a magnificent score by Thomas Newman culminating in this gorgeous piece of music: That Next Place

Weirdly, I can very, very nearly induce frissons more or less at will just by thinking about them, but something that will reliably trigger them is anything Thomas Newman-y with a bit of pleasant Lydian Mode plinky-plonkiness, like Wall-E's Define Dancing.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 9:35 PM on May 30, 2016


I get this, but it seems to be caused by certain key changes in songs i like.
posted by boilermonster at 9:36 PM on May 30, 2016


I thought I was one of those people that wasn't affected by this, but then I rewatched the Susan Boyle clip (I'd seen it before), and was like "Oh, that feeling." It's pretty subtle for me (nothing I'd call a "skin orgasm"), and it's never been significant enough for me to actively put a name to it, but it's still an interesting (and I think pleasant?) feeling. I've mostly just parsed it as "I really like this part of the song", without considering it as a physical sensation on its own, in much the same way that I've never felt a need to name the physical sensation of blushing when I'm embarrassed.

I also comprehend ASMR a lot better now, with this framing - "ohh, I get it, they get the listening-to-Susan-Boyle feeling when they hear someone whispering and opening wrapping paper." And I guess it's a lot easier to whisper and crinkle wrapping paper than it is to write a really compelling chord change and/or sing it really well.
posted by NMcCoy at 9:38 PM on May 30, 2016


Everyone that used ecstasy in the 90s knows about this effect.
posted by adept256 at 9:51 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Cool. Now explain pee shivers.
posted by davelog at 9:52 PM on May 30, 2016 [6 favorites]


I really don't think I get this just from music, because if I did, it would be here:

...Qua resurget ex favilla
Judicandus homo reus.

Lots of music is just so sublimely perfect it brings tears to my eyes, but no physical skin sensation.
posted by ctmf at 9:57 PM on May 30, 2016


Cool. Now explain pee shivers.

Ha, can't, but I did think I was crazy for decades with photic sneeze reflex. Now I watch outside buildings on sunny days to see how many other people have it.
posted by ctmf at 10:01 PM on May 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


I worked in a group home where one of the residents was profoundly aphasic, both expressively and receptively. She spent a lot of time humming to herself while rocking on the couch. She never showed an interest in music until one day I was with her, and we were listening to Prince (Sign of the Times perhaps). I was headlong onto some major frisson, and she jumped off the couch, ran to the speaker and put her hand on it, laughing. She'd look at me, then look at the speaker, and laugh. It was like she heard music for the first time, though she had been in this music room many times before, and showed no interest.

A single anecdote suggesting that these frisson things can be detected by others. Anyone else experience 'shared frissons'?
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 10:48 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


The first movement of the Bruckner 9th.
posted by Standard Orange at 10:59 PM on May 30, 2016


My attitude towards this is best worded by Edmund Burke:

Whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or is conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime; that is, it is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling. I say the strongest emotion, because I am satisfied the ideas of pain are much more powerful than those which enter on the part of pleasure. [...] When danger or pain press too nearly, they are incapable of giving any delight, and are simply terrible; but at certain distances, and with certain modifications, they may be, and they are, delightful, as we every day experience.
posted by sapagan at 11:19 PM on May 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


I guess I'm lucky because I get frisson all the time. Mostly from music, e.g. my oft-cited examples of Coltrane's “My Favorite Things” or Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61, but also from movies like the already mentioned final scene of The Natural or when the Millennium Falcon flies out of the sun in Star Wars.

Trolling my comment history, I found a few choice clips. Carmen McRae's “Sound of Silence” and Kenda Morris' “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” from Johnny Wallflower's post “Goosebumps are good” about spine-tingling covers of songs. Also “Gaismas pils” (“Castle of Light”) from ocherdraco's Latvian Song and Dance Festival post.

Bringer Tom: I bought the 45 single (freaked my parents out, I NEVER bought music) and I made a styrofoam jig that would fool our old auto-drop turntable into playing it over and over.
Like I said, I get frisson all the time, but I rarely go overboard on it. I've told this story before, but one time I overdid it was a decade ago after The Venture Brothers season two premiere “Powerless in the Face of Death.” I literally watched just the first two minutes of the episode 30 or 40 times in a row the next afternoon and over and over again for weeks afterwards. I eventually bought the track — “Everybody's Free” by Aquagen ft. Rozalla — and it's still in my everyday playlist.
posted by ob1quixote at 11:49 PM on May 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


Tavella, that link was amazing! Along with shivers and goosebumps, it made me cry.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 12:03 AM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


any estimated from 77 or 78 that decomposes into an ornette coleman-like blur of wonder.
posted by j_curiouser at 12:08 AM on May 31, 2016


It's funny to me that it's so music-focused for most people, because I don't get it from music very much. Much more linked to emotional content in media, or when thinking about something and everything falls into place suddenly. I'm not alone in that by any means in this thread, but yeah. Not primarily a music thing for me. I've definitely never had anything that could repeatedly trigger it, I need some element of the unexpected in order for it to happen.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 1:22 AM on May 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


3:41 to 4:00 or so.

Also this.

The fan-made Star Wars trailer in one of the linked articles did it as well.

This happens to me all the time but it is like a set of conditions and it happens.

I am very much a night/early morning person and it is far more likely to happen then. I think I have to be in the right state of mind for it to happen. If I listen to a song in its entirety it might happen at a particular point but skipping straight to that point and only listening starting there, it typically is not going to happen. Headphones make it more likely - that also might be part of why it happens more at night, less outside stimulus keeping my brain otherwise occupied.

The more relaxed and into the music, the more likely it is to happen. It used to happen to me a lot when I had a habit of going out at night and driving around the countryside listening to music for hours at a time. I was focused on the act of driving but at the same time night driving has always been super relaxing to me and somehow I found myself enjoying a lot of music far more deeply than I could just hanging around the house listening to it.

It happens sometimes with TV/movies as well but always music is part of the equation.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 2:09 AM on May 31, 2016


jonmc: ""skin orgasms"

aka Skoming
"

ermagehrd, gersebermps!
posted by chavenet at 2:11 AM on May 31, 2016 [4 favorites]


I get the goosebumps fairly regularly from music when listening alone, but it is greatly amplified by communal element (I find it interesting the number of times "choir" type arrangements mentioned above by others). For me the most intense is going to the football and having 50k odd voices sing You'll Never Walk Alone (which is a mawkish song on it's own but really pushes my buttons in context).
posted by Gratishades at 3:00 AM on May 31, 2016 [3 favorites]


Thanks to tavella and knapah for those links, got the chills from both of them. Even with Ode to Joy being so widely used, it still retains that magical ability to prickle hairs. And despite loving Susanne Sundfør's last album, I've criminally neglected to investigate her back catalogue, so I'm going to fix that now.

Back in the day, I used to get both the chills and ASMR from Portishead but I get only an echo of that nowadays, sadly.
posted by sarble at 3:08 AM on May 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


We truly live in the age of "love to put stupid label on everything".

Nomenclutter
posted by iotic at 3:43 AM on May 31, 2016 [9 favorites]


Durufle's Ubi Caritas
posted by hydropsyche at 4:11 AM on May 31, 2016


I am not a religious person, but Jerusalem and Allah Mohammad Char Yaar give me this feeling every time.
posted by heatvision at 4:13 AM on May 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


Sceptical-Me had a decade-long ongoing sibling dispute about the supposed power of crowds singing along "live". For the record, I still love that bit in Creeping Death even though it made a liar and a fool out of me.
posted by comealongpole at 5:23 AM on May 31, 2016


We truly live in the age of "love to put stupid label on everything".
I'm going to have to come up with a name for that though.


I suggest "TED talk"
posted by srboisvert at 6:18 AM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


I get this a lot, and like others, it erodes over time per song. Luckily it seems to take a long time for me.

Probably the one that's endured longest, 25 years at least, is the guitar solo in "Comfortably Numb." Like, it can be on in the background at the car dealership or something, and I'm highly focused on something else, and I'll still get it, and be momentarily surprised until I realize, "Ah. Comfortably Numb." It's really distracting at times, actually. Though not quite as bad as what "Desperado" must've done for that one dude Elaine dated on Seinfeld.

Sigur Rós, as previously mentioned, is great for this. The one that seems to AAALWAYS get me, and not just at one moment in the song but practically continually (though the big hit IME is at about the 5:00 mark), is "Dauðalogn", which might also be the saddest song ever recorded.

Some other pretty consistent examples from recent experience:

"Solar Sailer" from the TRON Legacy soundtrack
Perturbator - "Electric Dreams"
Beethoven's 7th symphony, movement 2
Eisbrecher - "Herzdieb"
Unheilig - "Wie Viele Jahre"
"Ultramarine" from the Heat soundtrack
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:16 AM on May 31, 2016 [3 favorites]


Every time I hear the last verse of Dixie Chicken from the live album Waiting For Columbus. EVERY. SINGLE. FOLLICLE on my arms. I can feel it start at my scalp and down to my fingertips.
posted by onehalfjunco at 8:29 AM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's interesting; I realized that when I used to visibly get frisson or shudder when I was around my husband, he would often think it was an affectation, and accordingly would get annoyed. Now I'm going to have to try to describe this to him and figure out whether he experiences it.
posted by limeonaire at 8:34 AM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm all good with the musically induced frissons but my partner and kids all love frissons as sort of an alternative to massage. They'll run their fingers lightly over each others arms and backs to make the hairs stand up. It drives me absolutely bonkers. Pure torture. Gah.

I love this so much. I can remember asking both of my parents to rub my back this way and now my husband does. Its so relaxing!

Musically, I never though of the feeling as a skin orgasm, I considered them music chills. I'll have to pay more attention to what does it for me because it always seemed to be random.
posted by LizBoBiz at 10:27 AM on May 31, 2016


And despite loving Susanne Sundfør's last album, I've criminally neglected to investigate her back catalogue, so I'm going to fix that now.

The Brothel is the best one in my opinion, so that's definitely a good idea!
posted by knapah at 11:25 AM on May 31, 2016


I get this sometimes with an accompanying wave of purest shame.

When I listen to Alison Krauss singing "Slumber My Darling," her voice seems so intimate it almost makes me feel embarrassed, like I accidentally walked in on her changing clothes.
posted by straight at 11:31 AM on May 31, 2016


This is a pretty easy one for frisson: Árstíðir - Heyr himna smiður (Icelandic hymn) in train station.
This one's more subjective (most of the album works for me): Test Dept./Brith Gof - Gododdin (Act VII) - Truan Yw Gennyf Fi (Lament)
posted by Zack_Replica at 12:04 PM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


These two make me experience frisson, every single time...and I've heard them hundreds of times...

Kath Bloom - Come Here
The Chills - Heavenly Pop Hit
posted by elmono at 2:15 PM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


There's a key change/escalation halfway through The Unfolding that very nearly does it to me. We used this as our wedding processional.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:33 PM on May 31, 2016


Wow, I thought everyone got these.

I just got one listening to the Bach piece linked to in the link, but I've also gotten them from Escape Velocity by the Chemical Brothers (the first couple of minutes as the music builds) and from Rez/Cowgirl by Underworld.

Both of them are big beat/rave songs.

And definitely a +1 to the "you can get them from more than music".

The trailer for Benjamin Button gave me frission - but it was the combo of visuals and music.

And when I went to the Met in New York and viewed the area where the Impressionists paintings were .... yep, definite frission.
posted by chris88 at 7:12 PM on May 31, 2016


...I thought saying "That gave me goosebumps" about a music or theater performance was just a figure of speech...
(This does not happen to me AND I didn't know it was a thing that happens to anyone/apparently everyone. Kinda creeped out. Reminds me a little of this to a lesser extent.)
posted by Gravel at 11:40 PM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


Add me to the chorus that can't believe there are people who don't get this. I get it all the time. Usually from music, but not just from particularly emotional music (I get it pretty reliably from hearing Kesha's voice). It always starts at the back of my skull, just about where it attaches to my spine, and radiates up to the top of my head and out to the tips of my ears. Sometimes down my chest and spine a bit. I'm getting it just thinking about it, in fact.

And now I'm listening to Tik Tok and when the first chorus hits it's like my head is on fire in a really great way.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:59 AM on June 1, 2016


Frisson is my truest test for the depth of the blues—when I can hear that thing that "An American In Paris" does when the orchestra races and staggers and stalks and climbs and falls and the strings rise up like waves meeting and intersecting and then just—oh…oh…oh it does not get better than this—and I can listen with coldness and no expression on my face, I know that it's time to look for help and love and someone to watch over me.

There's certainly science behind all this, but twenty-five years ago, working on a never-performed, unfinished ten-hour one man story cycle, I struggled with how to sum up that feeling, which is what happens when the biological mechanism meant to raise our fur when we're cold, when we're angry, or when we're showing our strength or our resolve to defend ourselves finds hooks in the newest human software that turns threats and basic drives into a surging manifestation of poetry, delight, and joy.

Does music make me cold?

Does film make me feel threatened, or overwhelmed?

Do the words in a book make me want to rear up, skin bristling, arms wide, fingers splayed in a gesture of the enormity of things, and where we are—where I am—in all of it?

Yes. Yes they do. They make me feel what I once described to a teacher as the idea that I would sometimes feel like I could feel the world turning on its axis, under my feet and through thousands of miles of rock and molten lava all rolling in million year convection cycles, when she looked back at me as if unsure if she was inspired or alarmed, and they make me feel like, if I really relax and let it come, I will feel the chemicals and electricity in my body, and the molecules interacting, and electrons in blurry, uncertain orbits like hummingbirds all singing the same songs, and they make me feel both celestially, existentially alone and still, just at the moment when the waves come, like I belong to a species that would, with the right song, all rise up at once, all around the world, arms wide, a whole planet of meerkats standing at the peak of everywhere, to share the absurd and awesome sensation that billions of years of evolution, in which incompatible biological systems created by needs and environments we've long forgotten all come together into the instant in which something as small and arbitrary as a kiss, or a loss, or the strata of orange happenstance in the atmosphere can just set us on fire, and make us rise, fluff out our imaginary coats as if to say we are here, we are small and we contain multitudes, and life is desperately short and somehow still infinite in scope

"So I take it that you enjoy the Beatles, Mr. Wall?" my teacher interrupts, summing something a thousand more words won't quite describe, but she will think it over and tell me later, when everyone else is rushing to recess, in hushed confessional tones, that what the Beatles do for me, Beethoven does for her, too.

And when I write, I tune in, through music blaring on the beat-up old headphones I've been using for thirty years or so, and I let the stories I've been running in a debugging subroutine in my non-times, when I'm just working, or sitting, or walking, or being a person caught up on the nothing that's all around us, and which we're trained to cultivate to survive serving duller masters than poetry, drift into focus, and I sit and listen and revisit those old songs that get me every time, whether sad or unsettled or exultant in reach, until I'm bristling, awash in a coming tide, until the perfect chord or the perfect sentence rises from the dark sea, and I reach out, into all the empty, confusing crash of signs and wonders that happens when instincts from our aquatic lives and our reptilian lives and our arboreal lives and our societal lives and our post-human lives and everything else finally comes together, spreading those wings we lost to evolution in defense, or in embrace…and begin.
posted by sonascope at 7:32 AM on June 1, 2016 [7 favorites]


I read this thread thinking, "I'm not sure I've ever experienced this," and then a few people mentioned Solsbury Hill and I thought, ohh, yes. That feeling.
posted by gentian at 8:30 PM on June 1, 2016


It happened again on the way home just now -- Richard & Linda Thompson, The Great Valerio. The perfect combination of melancholy lyrics and a lovely voice that occasionally moves up momentarily into that higher register where blam, I'm pretty much at its emotional mercy.

Frission or whatever aside, it really is a damn stunning song. Thompson's sparse finger picking barely exposes a chord progression of amazing intricacy & the melody glides perfectly above it. The whole-note bass line is barely even there, but the song would be lost without it. It's such a measured, careful extraction of beauty from the ethers that I'm a bit stunned I've made it this far in life before finally getting smacked by it.

I did a repeatability test -- I have a half hour commute, & this came on 2 minutes into it -- the frisson lasted intermittently through 5 playings, and finally subsided during the 6th.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:01 PM on June 2, 2016


....Am I alone in experiencing frisson MUCH more frequently since I first read this post? Yeah, yeah, confirmation bias perhaps. But it's been a couple of days of noticing it a bunch more than I ever have before. It's been interesting and enjoyable.
posted by thebrokedown at 8:53 PM on June 2, 2016


This one gets me every time Ted Leo - Little Dawn
posted by natasha_k at 10:30 AM on June 3, 2016


Did someone make the Spotify playlist yet? Please share.

My addition is Sinead O'connor's Last Day of Our Acquaintance.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:28 AM on June 4, 2016


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