Why Do Some Songs Give You Chills?

The voice, the notes, the drums, the ups and downs, then suddenly.. it’s so good you just get chills all over the body. Surprisingly, some songs are so good you just feel them with your entire being, from dilated pupils to heavy breathing! But how is this possible? After all, it’s just a song, right?


If you do experience it from time to time, you should feel lucky: only 50% of the world population gets chills from listening to music. What’s even stranger, as neuroscience research showed, is that we feel these sensations more often when listening to songs we already know than from those we haven’t heard before.

Jaak Panksepp, a specialist in neuroscience, found that most people get chills from sad songs rather than the happier tunes. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we get sad during those moments. According to Jaak Panksepp, the overwhelming sensations caused by music might actually be in our genes.

During ancient times, when a family member passed away, his relatives felt the loss and the sense gave them chills through a mechanism we still don’t understand. Somehow, the brain function was passed from one generation to the other, but it also modified in time, so now it is activated when we hear certain notes.


And there’s yet another explanation to the chills down the spine. Everybody has a favorite part of their favorite song, right? As the song begins, we anxiously wait for that certain part to start playing. The moment our expectation is met and we hear that certain rhythm playing, our satisfaction is so big it actually gives us chills.

With that being said, if you’re among the lucky ones who get butterflies in their stomach as their song begins, play on!