Today is Valentine's day. We mention that in the event that you have been living in a cave. On Mars. With your eyes closed and your fingers in your ears. In any event, being that it is Valentine's day, we thought we'd take this opportunity to discuss the role of music and musical taste in increasing one's proclivity for sexual activity. In other words, we're going to go try to figure out if playing music really does put you in the mood!

So: can music really improve the mood that much, and have an appreciable difference on whether or not you get it on? Of course, the answer to this, as in all scientific things, is something along the lines of “it depends.”

5. Music contributes to women's sensory experiences; men, not so much.

Best Coast, talking about sensory experiences…

One study asked about 150 men and 150 women about various sensory stimuli, and how this sensory stimuli impacted sexual activity. They had to indicate how much they agreed with certain statements regarding the importance of smells, sights, sounds, and touch for their sexual responsiveness. Men and women both said that (consensual) touching–or tactile stimuli–was the most important sensory experience that they could have in order to get aroused. This is probably what one would expect; nothing to see here. But then when men and women had to rate the importance of what they heard, the results started to look pretty different. Men, as it turns out, were completely not affected by music at all. In fact, the study says “Music was the least arousing sensory experience for males in the context of sex.” Men did, however, reported getting super turned on by sexual sounds. For women, music ranked pretty high as an arounding experience: as high as sexual sounds and imagined scenarios.

4. Even so, exposure to sad or happy music can help (or hinder) male sexual performance.

If anything might put a man off sex, it could be images of the lovely La Sera happily stabbing fools in this video.

No, seriously. This study checked out what happened to men's ability to become sexually aroused when exposed to “elated” or “depressed”. The researchers measured blood flow to the genital (don't ask) an some subjects were exposed to “sad” music; others exposed to “happy” music. Then, they were played some “neutral” music. After listening to the neutral music, they were all shown a short erotic film. And guess what? As the researchers put it, those “exposure to positive mood [happy music] was associated with significantly greater penile tumescence and subjective sexual arousal.” The reverse was also true: “The affective changes in the negative mood induction condition occurred concomitantly with a significant decrease in penile tumescence.” In other words, the guys who listened to the “happy music” were aroused faster and more easily than the guys who listened to the “sad music”. But boys will be boys–the guys who were listening to the “sad music” misreported their “penile tumescence”. So, folks, if you want an extra happy Valentine's day, skip the Jeff Buckley halleluiah and play something more upbeat.

3. Women say music puts them in the mood, but their bodies tell a different story…

If anything should put a woman in the mood, it's Blank Blue…

Women went through a similar experiment in which they were exposed to either happy music in order to facilitate “mood induction”, given a neutral task, and then shown pornographic videos. Whereas the men exposed to happy music definitely had decreased sexual response to porno videos (compared to the control group and the “sad music” group) women had no difference in sexual response. The interesting thing is that women who listened to the happy music reported that they were actually “in the mood”, and still, their physical response to the erotic movie was no different than the women who didn't report being 'in the mood.” Sorry, Al Green!

2. But this might not be true for female musicians, who have raging hormones compared to their non-musician peers.

Swahili Blonde is full of raging, talented ladies…

But here's the catch–they only have these raging hormones if they are considered “talented” or are “musical experts.” Like, say, music journalists or music bloggers. Ahem. Anyway, this study set out to see if there's a difference between the brains of music people and non-music people. Turns out, there is. There are lots of differences, and one of them lies in the pattern of sexual hormones. Female musicians have increased testosterone; male musicians have decreased testosterone. So any of you dating a lady musician? You might be in for a good Valentine's day.

1. But even so, music can enable you to ask for something you'd normally be too shy to ask for.

We don't know if lil Kim would be too shy to ask without her music…thoughts?

We found a pretty fascinating paper on a certain type of Peruvian music–the charango–and “courtship”, as the authors delicately put it. Of course, the charango is something of a local song form, but the point here goes beyond the charango. This song form, like other song forms with which we are familiar, enables men to communicate things to women that they might not otherwise feel comfortable saying, and vice versa. Most interesting for our purposes is the fact that the song and dance ritual that accompanies the performance of this song form actually encourages “premarital sexual relations” in a socially acceptable context. So musical performances can act as a social lubricant that allows people to feel free enough to do and say things that they would otherwise be judged for. Moral of the story: it's Valentine's day! Get out there and ask for it!

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