Can you feel the music?

Do men respond to music on an intellectual level, whereas women have a more emotional reaction to songs?

I ask because a debate has been started by the BBC’s controller of Radio 2 and 6 Music station, Lesley Douglas, who argues just that.

Much to the horror of my peers, I enjoy listening to music, but I don’t know music. I enjoy getting ready to Prince’s Diamonds and Pearls, my brisk walk to the train station most mornings is made bearable to the sound of Nelly Furtado’s Say it Right, and driving down the M1 to visit the in-laws listening to John legend’s Ordinary People, transports me to another time and place. My music tastes leave a lot to be desired, I know, but is it because I am a woman?

Defending a change in schedules on 6 Music, Ms Douglas said … “For women, there tends to be a more emotional reaction to music. Men tend to be more interested in the intellectual side of the music, the tracks, where albums have been made, that sort of thing.” Is she right..?

Or does it suggest that women don’t really appreciate the work that goes in to making music as much as men..?

Depending on what kind of reaction we get to this debate, we’ll be hearing some of your thoughts on the show later this week. If you would like to part, please leave a contact number with your comment.

18 Responses to “Can you feel the music?”

  1. 1 Brett
    February 19, 2008 at 13:25

    I’m certainly into lyrics, meanings, and getting inside and whats behind the music itself. I love discussing music and its lyrics, meanings and situations that are described in the music.

    While my morning commutes, if not soundtracked by BBC podcasts, are filled with Anti-Flag, Fifteen, and other such bands (recently, back to The Get Up Kids and other music from that era), I do occasionally get caught up in the meaningless pop or rap song (which may not be meaningless to other people). I can always enjoy a good beat or fun lyrics, but far prefer a song with meaning and a good beat/instrumentals.

    While I have found that girls react with more emotion to music, the ones I know react intellectually to all of the music they like, just as I do with the music I like. I think everyone appreciates the work that goes into music and all aspects of that music.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  2. 2 imran
    February 19, 2008 at 13:33

    Men go for the sound ,whereas women hear the words and empathaise the emotions.
    Look at any karoake night and you will always see the difference in the songs each gender knows and loves.

  3. 3 John in Salem
    February 19, 2008 at 13:46

    In a word – hogwash. Emotion isn’t a left or right brain function. If it were true then men would only write marching tunes and women would only write romantic ballads.

  4. February 19, 2008 at 13:50

    Hi gorgeous Rabiya ! Music makes me fly high away from this earth. Often when I listen to my favourite music alone, I just cry involuntarily. Fairouz, the greatest Lebanese singer makes me cry and smile at the same time when I listen to her songs. Music is about emotions Rabiya. Emotions is what makes music music. With my love ! Yours forever, Lubna !

  5. 5 Theresa
    February 19, 2008 at 14:07

    Can one imagine a world where we could NOT feel the music? So many moments of our lives can be touched by music…..from the joys of a newborn son to the grief and horror of 9/11…how many moments in your life can you vivdly recall what was playing on the radio ?

    What is the point of music if it cannot make us laugh, dance, dream, rage or cry?

  6. 6 Rory
    February 19, 2008 at 14:16

    Well – the truth has been shown in the Beeb big wig’s comment. Women are from Mars.
    Here’s what I think..
    1 I can cry at music – it’s just I was taught that crying is not for men.
    2.Does that mean that Mozart didn’t feel his music?
    3. .Excuse me – I have to listen to MIKA and dance and laugh and giggle and sing along emotionally.

    Of course the bigwig may be right- after all men are really more clever than women.

  7. 7 Joanna
    February 19, 2008 at 14:58

    I agree with Imran completely. My boyfriend loves music but when he sings the songs I always ask him, do you know what you’re singing? He rarely likes a song because of lyrics and doesn’t put the words together for their meaning. I, on the other hand, listen to songs for the meaning and how it relates to my personal life. Music, to me, is an expression of emotion, not just “noise.” I’m not so sure men really look at music on the intellectual side either. I’ve never heard a guy talk about how many tracks or where an album was made. In my opinion, they like certain music simply because it sounds good and nothing much more complicated than just that.

  8. February 19, 2008 at 15:18

    This has got to be the most ignorant thing I’ve ever heard.

  9. 9 John in Germany
    February 19, 2008 at 15:28

    Hello Rabiya.

    A question to start, do people select music to generate a mood, or do they select it according to their mood?.

    A lover intending to seduce his or her lover, will play music that he knows will turn him or her on, a bit hard? ok that will induce a romantic kick that turns into a desire to be seduced. i used to be jelouse of Elvis, Perry Como, Tom Jones, and so on. What a kick in the Butt to the manly feelings to know that the voice of some star had made her succumb, and not my seductive prowness. And the best of all, the security, comfort, and togetherness when listening to music that both enjoy.

    Deviating? Ok. i love the Guitar, and some guitar music sets a run down my back that is like a thousand feathers carresing my soul. The first time i heard Delicado being played by Reg Dixon on the famous Blackpool tower Organ, Was an experience i will never forget, i drove my Dad mad by playing it on the gramophone, until the NEEDLE nearly cut the record in half. The soul rendering, vibrant sound of a Fado, taking your whole being , laying it open, and healing it with sadness. A lonely Bag pipe, masterly played can turn ones whole body to where it comes.

    Sure we can feel the music, no matter what gender. i personally don’t give a damn about recording technic, with or without echo, un-plugged or not. This or that patented sound system, with big and small boxes……….A busker in a walk through playing an old flat top guitar made me loose three trains, and i willingly sat down with him to a good, enjoyable meal. No he was not a master,but he put his heart and soul into his music.

    i hate the snobbishness in music, Why?. some people say it education, i say its listening to what you like. Wagner blows my brain, and no explanations in the whole world can make me like his music, other love it, it appears that they are the intellectual elite., this is not so, its what we like.

    To finish, Hope you did not mean the vibrations from some over powered car music system that vibrates your solar plexus to the rhythm of some heavy metal, or Rock? So that you think you have heart problems, Did you???????.

    John in Germany

  10. 10 Andrew by email
    February 19, 2008 at 15:29

    What stuck in the craw of the US was the fact that Castro shut down their dictator Battista and closed the bars, brothels and casinos whereby rich and corrupt Americans could whet their whistle and have a good time. What does George W hope for Cuba now? A return to the good ‘ol days where the Mafia had free reign to run their enterprises? But I think the worst thing for them was the fact that for so long Castro stuck two fingers up to the Yanks. Good or bad I think that is the main thing I will remember Castro for, he wasn’t all bad after all. I am just glad that I have been around long enough to see that the Yanks didn’t get him and he went on his own accord. I can’t see that US style democracy is so great and whatever happens to Cuba in the future, you kind if wish that it doesn’t succumb to the McDonalds brand of freedom and democracy that the US seems intent on shoving down the world’s throat. It doesn’t seem to fit in many places by all accounts. Goodbye Fidel enjoy your last days. Oh did I forget to mention all the evil dictators that the US has supported over the years, who murdered and suppressed their own peoples? The image of Rummy and Saddam is forever etched in my memory, don’t throw stones George.

  11. 11 Abigail by email
    February 19, 2008 at 15:34

    I lived in Havana for two years, beginning in 2001. Life on the island is certainly hard in many ways. However, in terms of social justice (access to education, healthcare, housing, as well as civil liberties), Cuba is up to the standards if not well ahead of us in the US… which is highly impressive, especially for a tiny, 3rd world nation. As many try forcefully to misremember the last 50 years of Cuban history, here is one voice that insists that Cuba’s and Castro’s accomplishments are absolutely undeniable.

  12. 12 AJay Janschewitz
    February 19, 2008 at 15:56

    I’m not certain where Ms. Douglas gets her theories, but this one should be carefully wrapped up and properly trashed.
    Music has made me laugh, cry, dance, walk silly, wave my arms, whistle, and attempt to sing along. If those aren’t visceral, emotional reactions then I’m not certain what emotion is.
    The only time I find myself overwhelmingly interested in the technical aspects of the music is if I am the recordist, or (more likely) it has made such an impression on me that I might like to add it to my collection.

    AJay in Connecticut USA
    Man at last check.

  13. 13 Lacey
    February 20, 2008 at 03:02

    I disagree completely with this claim. I would propose that both males and females that are very interested in music connect with music on both the intellectual level and the emotional level.

    Casual music listeners may only connect on the emotional level, but anyone very interested in music and how it is made will care about the way it was produced, the instruments included, and basic information about the artist.

    I am a female, but I don’t know a single person who cares more about (or perhaps is more obsessed with) finding out information about music than I do. Whenever I listen to music that I consider to be of quality, I try to find at least basic information on the artist and their artistic process. I find this key to “understanding” the music. Yet there is also an emotional level to truly connect with the art.

    The intellect and the emotion of music are inherently connected for anyone who is truly interested in music. Gender is unrelated.

  14. 14 George USA
    February 20, 2008 at 03:52

    You may have hit on something here.

    I just reviewed my life.

    Honestly, I never found the woman who “felt”-

    “The Son of God Goes Forth to War”

    ” The Stars and Strips forever”

    “Whiskey for my men and beer for my horses”

    “I’ve got a Caribbean soul I can barely control and Texas deep in my heart.”

    It is possible I missed the love of my life for lack of women with my taste in music.

  15. 15 anica
    February 21, 2008 at 19:14

    hey Rabia,
    music i think is an abstract, nonfigurative. all u can do with music is to feel it. now ppl don’t argue with points like ‘how do play music then…..or how do u make music’the answer is very simple even to play or listen to the music u need to feel it . i strongly belive that music sans feeling is just NOISE n nothing more than that. well i don’t think the response to the music is gender related…..may be that the choice of the genre n songs may differ among the two genders but the basic point is that both men n women respond to music, be it by their mind(intellectually) or by their heart (emotinally) but aren’t both of them the part of one single SOUL. so ur soul feels the music, whtever kind of it is entirely ur choice…. u don’t need to confine an eternal term like music to some particular genre, particular instruments or singers…….. sometime even words coming from your loved ones is like the music to ears, is it not?
    so whenever u feel that there is a great music coming to your ears know that u r feeling it, what u don’t feel is not music for u atleast.

  16. 16 Dennis Cote
    February 24, 2008 at 06:21

    I like to listen to 80’s pop and disco.
    The music is about the only thing I remember of the 80’s, as I spent the decade with my gray matter soaked in alcohol.
    I like the beat of the music.
    Up-tempo music, something that brightened up a rather dismal life.
    I think both men and woman do at some point like music for the music itself, it’s meaning, the emotions it can stir, as well as intellectually.
    It took me 20 odd years to find out LaBelle’s “Lady Marmalade” was about a woman working the streets of New Orleans.
    I just liked the song, and that was it, the meaning wasn’t important.

  17. March 6, 2008 at 14:51

    Hey there – this is Gillian here from TheLipster.com, the new sharp and smart pop culture website for women. There is an article on the site about Lesley Douglas’s comments here: http://www.thelipster.com/articles/2943839

    If you’d like to add to the discussion please do sign up for the site and have a look around while you’re at it.


    Gillian x

  18. 18 Dennis
    May 12, 2008 at 07:37


    ONE WORD: YES!!!

    Dennis x

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: