Musical Aphrodisiac: Why Does Music Turn You On?

Musical Aphrodisiac: Why Does Music Turn You On?

There’s a natural intertwining between intimacy and music.

Both sex and music help us lower our inhibitions, detach from the world beyond the immediate sensory experiences and get lost in our deeply-held desires. So, is there a link between arousal and music? 

Humans are primarily visual creatures and we’ve got a large selection of visual stimulation to satiate our sexual cravings. Visuals like porn are quick, effective and oftentimes don’t leave much room for the imagination. But what happens when we turn to our mind’s eye and tap into our sexuality through the sounds of auditory stimulation? 

Music allows you to open yourself up to a whole world of cerebral exploration. Your desires aren’t directed to a specific focal point, but are attributed to the endless array fantasies your mind conjures up to compliment what you’re listening to. 

Musical Imagery

There’s such a thing known as ‘musical imagery:  it’s a special kind of listening that allows us to conjure up images when processing tunes, kind of like daydreaming. 

This is a kind of ‘auditory stimulation’ and requires a little bit more brain work than plain old imagery.  

Music taps in to purified sensuousness, beyond the gratification of visual aids and representations. 

Closing your eyes and listening to sweet sounding tracks gives your mind the breathing space it needs to create. Feeding into some of those deeply held fantasies as you listen in on some succulent melodies.

What’s the science behind music and arousal? 

Sexual arousal is a peculiar and rather distinct bodily experience. You grab a peak at something spicy or conjure up a fun little thought and BOOM! Your heart is pumping, your blood flowing to you nether regions, temperature’s rising and hormones are gushing out in your brain. Two of the major hormones involved in arousal are: 

  1. Dopamine: this hormone is linked to that ‘feel good’ gratification we experience when our needs and urges are fulfilled. It floods our brains when we chow down on some good grub, have an orgasm or take drugs.
  2. Adrenaline: This gets your blood pumping and pushes you to act – fight or flight. It’s also partially responsible for a good chunk of the physiological signs related to arousal: heart rate, breathing rate and skin conductance. 

 There’s a whole bunch of stuff that your brain and body does when engaging in sexual behaviour, frisky thoughts and risqué activities. It turns out listening to music triggers the same neurological pleasure zones. Your brain is flooded with dopamine when you’re having an orgasm, but also when you’re listening to your favourite song.

A brain-scan study that looked at brain activity when listening to evocative music showed that, after listening to the sensational sounds, people’s brains were flooded with dopamine. The fact that the same hormone is triggered with sex and music, might explain why Marvin Gaye or Slowdive gets us in the mood. 

Goosebumps or the “frisson”

Goosebumps are generally experienced as a response to an unexpected change in temperature, or intense feelings like fear and sexual arousal. When exposed to these sensations, the skin tightens and body hair stands on end. 

There’s another study that shows that you can get a ‘skin orgasm’ by listening to evocative music. This phenomenon is called, ‘frisson’.  It’s an immediate and short-lived sensation, the kind to send chills all over your body and make you shiver, often triggering exhilarating excitement that stimulates the body’s nervous system.  

Music with unexpected harmonies, fluctuating and climatic volumes, are common triggers that onsets frisson. The more immersed into a piece of music you are, the more likely that you will experience this sensation as your intuition towards the musical stimulus is heightened. 

What kind of music has that ‘aphrodisiac’ quality?

An aphrodisiac is a food or substance that ignites sexual arousal and behaviour. There’s a number of foods and substances that hold this title, and they’ve all got a particular ingredient or chemical that works with the body to produce some zesty reactions. Music has its own sexy ingredients blending in well together to give us that warm and tingly sensation, making it a kind of sexy stimulant. 

Lyrics to ignite the flame

As we’re all very well aware, there’s thousands of songs that talk about sex (baby)! 

British Baby Gif by Pretty Whiskey/Ales Sautter. Sourced from giphy.com

These lyrics have the power to fill our minds with dirty fantasies. There’s a lot of talk about one’s sexy bits, all the things you’ll be doing to your partner’s bits, where you’re gonna be doing these things and for how long you’ll be partaking in such spicy activities. 

D’Angelo’s Voodoo is a definite baby-making album: 

All that talk about sex is an auditory stimulant that can make anyone horny. 

Sexually Energised Vocals

A number of studies show that listeners say the sexiest songs feature vocals with a dynamic range. Combining a ‘high chest voice’ with raspy vibes. and witching between loud and quiet tones also does the trick. It mimics that climatic experience of intercourse. The loud vocal bits stimulate arousal and the quieter bits give off an intimate vibe, all mirroring the adult’s ultimate joy-ride.  

JMSN has lusciously robust vocals that really set the tone for a romantic evening: 

Heart Thumpin’ Beats 

The sexiest tempos are claimed to be 80 beats per minute (bpm) and 130-140 bpm. These sultry beats sync up with hip movements and other thumping movements that play out during sexy time, mirroring the number of humps per minute. 

Sudan Archives brings forth some smooth looped beats at 130bpm that are sure to get you feeling it: 

We also tend to find deep bass more attractive, as the robust sounds are easier to process. If you turn the bass up loud enough, it can also send out vibrations, which can also trigger further arousal.

The kind of tunes you listen to can also impact your attitudes and expectations for sex. Listening to country music will make you want to have more intimate and romantic sex, while listening to R&B will attract you towards friskier sexual endeavours. It’s just like literature, the kind of stuff you read affects the way you see things and the experiences you seek out. 

So, bringing together some deep bass, spicy lyrics and an entrancing voice, is a recipe for the ultimate ear-gasmic banger. (get to it, producers!)

This track by Channel Tres comes pretty close: 

Sex with music is better than sex with no music – but why? 

Playing romantic and sensuous tunes is an effective trick for setting the mood and arousing your partner. Lots of studies show that music is a sexy sensory stimulant. A particular study showed that men who don’t generally listen to romantic and sultry music, will make an exception if it means they can win over a fine lady. 

Here’s a potential track to get your woman swooning:

Alabama Shakes- Gimme all your love. 

Having music on in the background while you are in the bedroom, has been proven to be a more powerful initial turn on the touch of a partner in some cases. 

It can increase arousal, make things less awkward or just enhance the quality of your sexual experience overall. A couple of men who took part in a study also said that music enhanced their performance and had sex that lasted longer, but women were not as convinced by this statement. 

Another study showed that, sharing the same music taste as your partner, can lead to higher sexual attraction and enjoyment. 70% of couples who share similar music tastes, said that they were more satisfied with their sex lives. These couples are more likely to integrate music into their sexual experiences, which suggests that music has a positive correlation with sexual satisfaction.  Kind of explains why a lot of us search for similarity in music taste with our partners. 

So, if you’re in search of a little more cerebral to get you into the mood or if you just want to spice up your time in the bedroom, get to making that playlist that brings together slow and fast paced songs to pair the intimacy and passion of the experience.