Since I believe some of my experiences with music have not just made me happier but also have made me a better person, I’ve wondered whether the opposite could also be true— that music could lead you in the direction of destructive behavior. Seems logical. And when I think of something like Swans, where bleak music about suffering could help lift me out of a depression, or certain rap songs that tap into memories of aggressiveness and violence that feel very far from who I am and how I want my life to be, I realize it’s never going to be an easy question to answer. I’m not sure I could ever explain how it works, at least not completely. But when I’m tuning into the rage and fear and catharsis behind my headphones it feels like it’s all there for a reason, like there’s a desire that needs to be explored and music creates a sheltered space for it to happen.

Mark Richardson – Resonant Frequency: Watch the Sound. On rap music, fear, aggression, Swans, and what happens when we feel music but don’t necessarily identify with it. (May 13, 2011)

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