There is plenty of science that explains why human beings like music. It has to do with the distance between notes and the fact that certain intervals, such as the octave, are both mathematically perfect and more pleasant to the ear than other intervals. The preferred intervals vary according to the part of the world you grow up in, which is why you likely prefer the sound of western music to that which hails from the east.
However, what science is not able to explain is why particular individuals grow up liking one sort of music in preference to another. Regardless of what you like to listen to, there is now increasing evidence that expanding your aural horizons comes with tangible benefits.
According to author David Greenberg, the way that a person thinks – their cognitive style – is a more accurate predictor of the songs they will like than their personality type. Those who are empathetic, for example, strive to understand the thoughts and emotions of others. Systemizers, on the other hand, prefer to look for patterns.
For this reason, systemizers like listening to more intense music, such as punk, hard rock and heavy metal while empathizers are more likely to choose more mellow sounds. This potentially means that listening to music you don’t normally listen to could potentially broaden your perceptions.
Reach out and try
If you truly want to expand your music horizons, try listening to random tracks on a streaming service or buy tickets for traveling Broadway shows coming to a theater near you and hear some of the top show tunes as part of a live performance. Although you may think musical theater is not your thing, the phenomenal success of films such as La La Land mean many more are likely to appear in the years to come, so why not give them a try?
Be more bimusical
Studies have shown that people who grow up with more than one type of music, for example both Indian and Western music, have more elaborate brain systems for listening than those who grow up listening to only one kind of music.
According to a study by Northwestern University, those who are bimusical not only engage more of their brain when listening to music but respond to the music more emotionally. The same enhancements are seen in those who grow up speaking more than one language. Although more research is needed, this once again suggests that listening to music from outside your usual range could be of benefit.
Look inside the song
Sometimes learning the story behind a song or its creator can provide a different perspective on the music itself, allowing you to hear things that may have passed you by during your first listen. There are numerous podcasts that feature lengthy interviews with composers and songwriters from around the world talking about their inspiration and composing processes, and these could provide the incentive you need to begin listening to a whole new genre of tunes.