Chills Set
June 19, 2022 3:09 AM   Subscribe

should there be a link where it says Big Think?
posted by lazaruslong at 3:14 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]

I think it’s supposed to be this link on the first one
posted by lazaruslong at 3:22 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]

d'oh! thanks lazaruslong, you are right. I've asked the mods to change.
posted by chavenet at 3:57 AM on June 19

No worries!

Very cool article and am going to listen to the playlist today. I get frisson from music a LOT. Also discussing with some friends in a slack - great post.
posted by lazaruslong at 4:05 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]

Mod note: fixed link!
posted by taz (staff) at 4:31 AM on June 19 [3 favorites]

A lot of the classical examples are the sort of thing they used to play as we filed into assembly at my uk all girls school
posted by Morpeth at 5:05 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]

I will never cease to be confused by the fact that a Johnny Cash cover has erased the public’s memory of a Nine Inch Nails original and not the other way around.
posted by sinfony at 5:27 AM on June 19 [18 favorites]

I don't think it made the playlist, but the most 'hair standing on end' music I've heard is the experimental musician Frank Bretchneider's Kippschwingungen. Which, based on the name (tilting vibrations), I think may have been created with the effect in mind.
posted by rodlymight at 5:54 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]

Sinfony, it's happened before. Decades ago, The Monkees had a big hit with a song called "I'm a Believer," and almost no one knew then that it was written by Neil Diamond.
posted by yclipse at 6:20 AM on June 19 [5 favorites]

A song that’s literally about frission and reliably produces it: Giant Sand’s Shiver
posted by sjswitzer at 6:28 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]

Thank you great play list to explore!
posted by lonelid at 6:33 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]

I don't quite buy the article's theory about frisson because I've seen the exact same theory proposed for laughter. Frisson and laughter are similar in that they're involuntary physical responses to "surprising" things, but things that make me laugh are very different from the things that give me frisson. That needs further explanation.

And the element of surprise is also kinda sus. It's not really surprising the 100th time I hear a song or a joke, but they can still work.
posted by sjswitzer at 6:42 AM on June 19 [4 favorites]

MetaFilter: Toward an integrative model of transcendent psychophysiological experiences.
posted by WalkingAround at 6:49 AM on June 19 [3 favorites]

Sometimes people post things that make me go what, really?

I think the first time I realized people actually get a physical sensation from music was a post here about frisson, and I realized that getting the chills isn't entirely metaphorical.

I love music but have never felt it. Not getting it from any of these either.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 6:53 AM on June 19 [4 favorites]

The theory is bonkers scientism; the playlist is pretty good!
posted by dmh at 6:59 AM on June 19 [7 favorites]

Great stuff to wander through, thanks so much chavenet! I imagine I'm going to find some gems in here I haven't heard before. What a treasure.

The article mentions scream-induced frisson, and I thought oh yeah, "Gimme Shelter" does it for sure. But then also Roger Daltrey in "Won't Get Fooled Again"...but i don't know if that's on the list.

I did a quick scan of the first one hundred or so. Happy to see classical music on there, but it seems there aren't a lot of jazz tunes. Is jazz by its nature non-frissonable? On the other hand, some jazz very much make me feel alive but not in a frisson way, if that makes sense.
posted by storybored at 7:05 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]

It sure seems likely that an evolutionary feedback loop rewarding novel experiences and the unexpected would offer an advantage. Laughter seems to fit squarely in this category - a theory of mind advanced enough to imagine someone doing something unexpected (rather than "surprising" exactly) in the sense that it violates default predictions (instincts) in a way that isn't exactly plausible but also isn't exactly impossible could help create counterfactuals that underlie human abilities like improvisation and resilience when the obvious thing doesn't happen. Instead of shutting down we get a little endorphin rush and learn to enjoy the challenge of things not going quite as expected.

Extend this proposal into music - an ancient and pervasive mechanism to encode and pass on certain basic characteristics of what we might consider culture and social norms, communicate mood (in the same way a given cascade of hormones has simultaneous effects on many systems of the body) such that cultures learn to normalize with one another based on shared experience and feelings. Even if it's not something everyone feels consciously, it's something most everyone can understand is meant to evoke a sensation and learn to organize thoughts and attenuate behaviors in line with the mood set forth in that music.

The fact we learned to manipulate this powerful technology to create feelings and physical sensations like ecstasy or joy or process grief seems right in line with every other evolutionary quirk which, once identified - instinctively - we might seek to both systematize and exploit subconsciously.

Personally I rarely get the chills from music, but do get intensely physically sedated by some and occasionally driven to tears by others. Not always, but often enough it's notable.

I welcome the opportunity to explore multiple paths to violations of expectation - it feels good but does attenuate over time. We all know the jokes. We all expect the sudden key change. Eventually the unexpected becomes normalized and we yearn for another layer of unexpected - which some who consume lots of such art are already tired of while the majority are enthralled for a time. This sure seems like effective selection pressure unevenly distributed by our own inventions of instant communication outpacing our meat systems' capacity to integrate the unexpected.
posted by abulafa at 7:18 AM on June 19 [4 favorites]

Call me a bit of a fuddy duddy but I'm of the opinion that a playlist should be mildly cohesive when played in, well, the order of the list. As far as playlists goes, this is absolute chaos. No woman no cry -> I will always love you -> For Crying Out Loud, for example, is an insane track sequence. Or Beethoven -> Tchaikovsky ->Dave Matthews Band -> Everclear.
posted by Philipschall at 7:20 AM on June 19 [14 favorites]

but "science"
posted by glonous keming at 7:34 AM on June 19 [5 favorites]

Based on my very scientific analysis of the entire playlist—actually, I just listened to Purple Rain, because, Purple Rain—it's chorus pedals all the way down.
posted by signal at 7:44 AM on June 19 [3 favorites]

NICE!! Missed one though....
Lil Wayne ft Betty Wright - Grapes On A Vine
posted by johnjohn4011 at 9:33 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]

I did a quick scan of the first one hundred or so. Happy to see classical music on there, but it seems there aren't a lot of jazz tunes. Is jazz by its nature non-frissonable? On the other hand, some jazz very much make me feel alive but not in a frisson way, if that makes sense.

Weather Report's Birdland was apex frisson for me back in the day.

Still right up there; here's a live version.
posted by jamjam at 10:18 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]

I always get goosebumps with my frisson too.

And they have recently been associated with — wait for it. . . . take a guess (you’ll never get it):

hair regeneration!

And they have a bunch of other surprising associations, as well:
Though rare, goosebumps can be a sign of a seizure disorder called temporal lobe epilepsy, a disorder of the sympathetic nervous system, or other brain disorders. They are also common during heroin or other opiate withdrawal. In fact, one explanation for the origin of the expression "quitting cold turkey" is that goose bumps that develop during withdrawal from heroin mimic cold turkey flesh.
posted by jamjam at 10:34 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]

The theory is bonkers scientism;

From the main Bigthink link ...

While it is understood that appreciation of beauty is central to what makes us human, it is not clear to researchers what evolutionary advantage this sensitivity could have given our species.

Maybe evolutionary advantage has next to nothing to do with it. Maybe endeavouring to shoehorn all experience (most of it anyway) through the filter of evolutionary advantage neuters the experience (most of it anyway). Maybe the whole appeal of music (the stuff that works anyway, that gets under our skin) is that it transcends science, it transcends knowledge, it transcends everything/anything that we can apply a model to. Which if you wish to extrapolate, is why the very classification of music (into genres, subgenres, into notes and chords and harmonies even) is problematic. For me anyway. Not that there's no value in models and classifications -- it's just that so many of us (and the vast organized systems that have been imposed on us whether by ideology, capitalism, religion, fan club) end up confusing them with the stuff itself ...

And Huron’s “Contrastive Valence Theory” can help us better understand what is going on behind the scenes when we experience this profound emotional state.

By stimulating and exploiting our primitive threat-detection systems, music activates deeply embedded neural networks that have evolved over millions of years. It’s no wonder why we feel songs so deeply in our core: Music reminds us what it is like to be alive.

mmmm maybe. Or maybe as a friend used to say back in more psychedelic days, it's proof that gods exist and this is how they connect with us. And then if you tried to argue that gods don't exist, that evolutionary advantage yadda-yadda-yadda proves this -- he'd just counter with, "but evolutionary advantage is one of their favourite tactics for making things work"

the playlist is pretty good!

Maybe. Except where's Herb Alpert's take on It Was A Very Good Year? In particular, the part toward the end when the strings come in like a sudden break in the clouds on a gloomy day, everything changes, becomes richer, grander, more promising and sublime.

At least that's how it worked for me. Age six or seven, a suburban living room -- my first definitive experience of this frisson stuff that I can name. I don't remember anything the priest said in church that week (or any other week for that matter), but I sure remember that sweet sidestep of the whole space-time-continuum when all creation took a pause, took a breath ... and music itself imposed, took a bow.
posted by philip-random at 10:45 AM on June 19 [5 favorites]

I get frisson when learning advanced mathematics

I've also been going through this Spotify list this month and I'm on song 50 or so. It's the same sensation. And a lot less work than reading a maths paper
posted by polymodus at 11:45 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]

Is jazz by its nature non-frissonable?

Absolutely not. And I'll further say that the idea of any single definitive list of music that reliably produces a frisson in everyone is ludicrous. Music is a deeply personal thing, and what gives me a frisson isn't necessarily what gives you a frisson, and what does it for you won't do it for your pal, etc. etc. I will gladly die on this hill.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:09 PM on June 19 [10 favorites]

it's chorus pedals all the way down.

I mean yeah, why not take this whole notion a step further, and identify the key aspect of frisson-inducing music? Is it chorus effect? Suspended chords? Vocal harmony? This needs to be codified! Let's get some boffins together and sort it out once and for all!!

posted by Greg_Ace at 12:16 PM on June 19 [3 favorites]

i think this is all highly personal and taste-based and i think the artistic juxtapositions on the big-ass playlist firmly illustrate that, but all that said i did think of one that very often works for me (but it's my favorite band): Enter Shikari - Juggernauts. The frission setup begins around 2m38s in the bridge with the gang vocals, with the frission moment itself coming around 3m03s as everyone chants/sings/screams "YOU. SHALL. NOT. PASS." it even frisshed me just now as i listened to prep this comment.

on preview: seconding Greg_Ace just now
posted by glonous keming at 12:18 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]

All that said, there's a lot of quite nice music in that list, must of which I'd happily listen to though very few to no frissons are likely to be involved (and some of which would actively annoy me to have to listen to).
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:20 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]

For me, it's reliable to expect it with close vocal harmony, especially brothers or sisters singing together. It's one of the main things I like about bluegrass.
And barbershop, but... I don't choose to listen to that very much.
posted by Acari at 12:53 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]

What is the difference between frisson and ASMR? It seems like a similar sounding sensation.
posted by interogative mood at 1:20 PM on June 19 [6 favorites]

Also closely related: getting choked up. I lost my singing voice when my voice changed, but I can’t even recite the lyrics from my favorite songs without getting choked up. It’s not break down and actually cry levels, but I do get choked up. Even if I could retrain my voice, which I know is doable, I could never sing those songs because I’d get choked up and it boggles my mind that the actual authors can.
posted by sjswitzer at 1:58 PM on June 19 [4 favorites]

I've started several probably-fighty thoughts questioning why in an otherwise pretty materialist and rational space we seem to have so little problem carving out a spiritual niche for art but especially for music.

I can't fathom what's so terrible about discovering a neat hack that some music employs, many people experience, and a large number of both anecdotal and expert observers seem to agree exists, then deciding to try to understand why it works which usually begins with theories and continues to experimental (in) validation.

But I think it has something to do with how your favorite band sucks - music occupies this space often cemented early in life and subject to strong almost pre-rational defenses. This, too, seems like it's worth studying just like this effect and those like it.

(TFA kind of does this, too - drawing a very broad brush of presumed shared experience and reactions. I guess I'm saying the cure for imprecision isn't less precision or leaving the subject alone.)
posted by abulafa at 2:45 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]

Is there a way to see this list as text instead of a Spotify link?
posted by a humble nudibranch at 4:16 PM on June 19 [3 favorites]

I definitely get frission from some of the music I like but I feel like a big part of it is tied to both the listener's taste in music and their overall emotional state. I don't think that it's as simple as just playing a song in a list that someone else came up with, certainly.
posted by Aleyn at 6:03 PM on June 19 [3 favorites]

I can't fathom what's so terrible about discovering a neat hack that some music employs, many people experience,

I totally agree that musical frisson exists [even if I also think that either NIN or Johnny Cash Hurt totally blows], but beautiful scenery, cool cars, cool guns, fancy desertx, good movies (even if they are just pulling emotional strings), gross stuff, pets, tests, first dates, and lots of things create the same feeling, and with music it seems ok to list and rank with 'sciencetism', but if someone posted that corgis create frission and pugs were farther down the list, and eww- beagles - everyone would look at that list with way more side-eye.

Or their date with Monica, but not Jimmy's date with Jared. The idea that you can rank them is kind of silly.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:10 PM on June 19 [3 favorites]

Sinfony, it's happened before. Decades ago, The Monkees had a big hit with a song called "I'm a Believer," and almost no one knew then that it was written by Neil Diamond.

Biggest one by far (IMO): Who mostly wrote and first released Take it Easy? Not The Eagles.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:29 PM on June 19 [3 favorites]

And the element of surprise is also kinda sus. It's not really surprising the 100th time I hear a song or a joke, but they can still work.

Good point. And I've also had the experience where it works beautifully for the 100th time and stops at the 101st. What happened in that case?!
posted by storybored at 8:53 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]

Chills set
posted by mbo at 9:40 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]

What happened in that case?!

allergy. overexposure.
posted by philip-random at 9:50 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]

I've gone back to the article twice now. I can't find any claim of ranking, only that these tracks are examples of music that generates frisson. The article even goes out of its way to give other non-musical examples that cause the same sensation.

It would really be worthwhile to examine the reflexive defense of taste versus a perceived threat from what sounds like a grab bag of stimuli more than a top 715 tracks guaranteed to give you chills (you won't believe number 213!).

The sensation happens. Some music causes it in some people. Other experiences also cause it. Why is it in any way egregious scientism to suggest these things? What's so sacred that is being damaged or put at risk that the very idea that some sounds cause this sensation needs to be rejected with such force?
posted by abulafa at 9:53 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]

I've been listening to songs on this playlist today, and some of them really do give me frisson, but it's interesting how many of them do nothing for me or are actually kind of annoying. A lot of them are songs that are really trying (maybe trying a little too hard) to be epic/dramatic. And I guess that's not really my thing.

Earlier today, when my teenage daughter and I were in the car, I started up one of the songs from the playlist, Purple Rain (which does nothing for me.) But she stopped it when it was about halfway over because she couldn't take it anymore. She said it was kind of like something rubbing against styrofoam - not the same sound, but the same kind of feeling. It's funny how one person's frisson is another person's "Listening to this song is damaging my psyche." She apparently doesn't get the shivery goosebumps thing. She was surprised by the idea that some people might have an actual physical reaction to music. She also doesn't tend to have favorite parts of songs to the extent I do. Almost every song I like has a bit or a few bits that stand out as my favorites. For instance, in one of her favorite songs, The Other Side of Paradise by Glass Animals (a kind of good song that I have heard way too many times), clearly the best bit in the whole song is "Gonna be a hoop phenomenon/He's gonna be Hakeem Olajuwon." To me, that bit is about 80% of what makes it a good song. But she likes the whole song and doesn't have any favorite parts. Some of my favorite parts are frisson-inducing, but some of them induce different feelings that are less goosebumpy but equally pleasurable. She also likes listening to the same song over and over again way more than I do. When she's alone, she sometimes plays a song on repeat many, many times in a row, which would drive me insane and probably make me end up hating it, no matter how good a song it was.
posted by Redstart at 9:57 PM on June 19 [4 favorites]

The sensation happens. Some music causes it in some people. Other experiences also cause it. Why is it in any way egregious scientism to suggest these things?

It's not scientism to recognize that frisson happens, that's long been understood, though not, as the article suggests, by calling it "aesthetic chills". The chills, certainly, comes up regularly in casual use, but aesthetic is rarely added to it because the purpose of aesthetic is in the attempt to understand the how and why of response to art, that's where the notion of frisson in this sense comes from.

The problem with the article is that there is little evidence that the author has engaged with these ideas at all and somehow just accepts, because science!, that neuroscientists have answers that haven't been looked at in exhaustive detail by people involved in the philosophy of art for generations. Some of the music linked may indeed provide frisson or chills, but for many much of it won't because they aren't going to be invested in the works for a variety of reasons, like familiarity with the genre for just one, so they won't be likely to key into pattern shifts when they don't recognize or care for the initial pattern to begin with.

So the idea of there just being a list of "frisson inducing" music that works for everyone is just misguided as it's more complicated than that, but "neuro-aesthetics" is a new hook some have grasped onto as explanation because it alleges answers based in science! that do not and possibly cannot exist for the adaptive manner of response people have to art. Treating art as a concrete thing rather than a set of relationships is missing out on a huge part of what we get out of art.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:40 PM on June 19 [5 favorites]

Purple Rain? The Star Spangled Banner? Really?

Where are Rocket's Tail and Under Ice? Where is Echoes? Where is Starless? Where is Christiane Legrand singing Sinfonia or Klaus Nomi singing The Cold Song?


That's a Texas size 10-4, good buddy. All my frissons lie way further left on the sentimental glurge axis than this list compiler's.
posted by flabdablet at 12:08 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]

Is there a way to see this list as text instead of a Spotify link?

I massaged the JSON that the linked Spotify page loads, and came up with this:

Let me know if you want more details than that and I'll see if they're in the JSON and dig them out for you if so.
posted by flabdablet at 12:58 AM on June 20 [5 favorites]

Ta flabdablet!

Bloody list doesn't even have Heavenly Pop Hit.
posted by pompomtom at 1:18 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]

yes, thanks flabdablet! You're amazing.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 6:00 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]

The author suggests that he got a frisson to a song he didn't yet understand, which is interesting. I've often thought that music is sideways language; the abstract aspects of language with the literal parts removed. It would suggest he was picking up purely musical cues that the song was about death.

Ralph Vaughan Williams's "The Lark Ascending" was a piece of music I always thought was "pretty" until I heard the story behind it (written on the eve of WWI as an elegy of the loss of innocence), after which it never failed to give me frissons. However, it's not clear when the piece was written, so that story may be completely bogus, and I've been having frissons for nothing. The piece *does* support being about appreciating the ephemeral nature of simple beauty while understanding the more complicated aspects of life, but my reaction suggests that "frissons" can be learned and be due to extra-musical cues. Like, probably the "Cold" song would give me chills no matter what, but I first heard it knowing Klaus Nomi sang it while he was dying.

Another Vaughan Williams work gives me chills: Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis. In that case, I first heard it when I was 19, a young botanist collecting specimens for a class, and riding my bike to a swamp with a transistor radio tied to the handlebars. I reached the swamp, dark and cool despite the hot summer day, with huge trees creating a cathedral-like volume to my surroundings, and suddenly this piece came on the radio. Would the chills have happened without the extra-musical cues? I don't know.
posted by acrasis at 6:48 AM on June 20 [4 favorites]

The author suggests that he got a frisson to a song he didn't yet understand, which is interesting.

Yeah, some of the assertions are a bit too broad I think since it seems pretty clear that a large amount of "gooseflesh" moments come from having the pump primed in anticipation for a big, significant moment, even if one doesn't know precisely how it will play out or if it will be successful at all once reached. We know a song tends to seek a sort of apotheosis of some sort and we can often get a feel for where that moment will occur and how the song is leading towards it, in those cases we are primed for the big moment and the anticipation feeds the response. It's the wait to reach the moment that lends it so much added force.

In other cases there can indeed be truly unexpected shifts that catch us off guard on first listen, but are those as much "gooseflesh" moments for them having to pass before we can really react to them, the unexpectedness leaving us unprepared for response and then reacting often in some disbelief to what we just heard or outright confusion as we adapt to something truly new to us. On repetition, expecting that moment, then the build up perhaps better leading to "gooseflesh" as we are better able to fully take in the effect.

(In some unique instances it may even first lead to dislike or deeper uncertainty before we adjust our expectations to appreciating the new experience and enjoying the frisson. We aren't always quick to adapt to the new afterall, so expecting immediate response for something outside expectations would be outside the norms for most people in any circumstance including music.)
posted by gusottertrout at 7:20 AM on June 20 [2 favorites]

When Max Meredith was on form he'd reliably give me so much frisson as to take my whole self to a completely other place. Every Sunday for years. I miss him.

His playing in that clip clearly has far wider dynamic range than the audio chain that captured it was good for, so you'll need to forgive the horrible noise-gating artifacts in the soft sections. Just turn it way, way up and pretend they're not there. And when he gets loud, which he will do, do not turn him down; just follow him where he's taking you.

Ian Collard on harmonica, Carl Pannuzzo on drums and vocals, and Mick on bass are in top form here as well, but Max is just else.
posted by flabdablet at 7:51 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]

All my frissons lie way further left on the sentimental glurge axis than this list compiler's.

On the other hand, I was just thinking Where the hell was Godspeed You! Black Emperor when suddenly there was Storm and Static both. So they got some things right.

And two more votes for A Lark Ascending and, tripling that, the Variations on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. Do listen if you have not heard them before.

Oh! And Al Stewart's Roads to Moscow gave me such chills: "In the footsteps of Napoleon the shadow figures stagger through the winter" particularly.
posted by jokeefe at 4:01 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]

It'd be interesting for people to go through the playlist and check off which ones friss and which ones don't. Then see which songs frisses the most and what those heavy hitters have in common.
posted by storybored at 9:05 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]

I would venture that the main thing they'll turn out to have in common is being ticked by more people than the others.

Frisson is in the skin of the behearer.
posted by flabdablet at 10:05 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]

Lexica unearthed one of my all time most frisson-inducing folk songs: Cold Missouri Waters (link goes to their comment, which will play the YouTube video directly, if you like).
posted by jamjam at 12:59 AM on June 22

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