When I was in college, my housemate was constantly working on, modifying, and adding to his prized “sex playlist.” He took a special pleasure-staking pride in this craft. I won’t give away all his secrets, but selections ranged from Pinback to Kendrick Lamar. He was entirely confident in his playlist’s ability to set the mood and enhance his coitus. Though it’s obvious that music and sex go together, I’ve found myself asking: how great is this potential?
According to contemporary research, it’s very, very great.
A University of Japan study showed that single people’s perceptions of potential partners improved favorably with background music on. They had 20 minutes to chat, and rated their impression of the other person afterwards. Potential partners with no music on were less impressed. With music on, people were more impressed. But this simple experiment doesn’t explain much. If music helps with interpersonal chemistry, what about our body chemistry?
One of the biological compounds responsible for both relaxation and regulating penile erections is nitric oxide. (Note: Do NOT confuse this with nitrous oxide.) I can recall nitric oxide, or NO, being mentioned in a text from my early experiences with music therapy, Musical Healing (2003) by Stefano, Bernstein, & Kim. Here is an excerpt:
“…NO has been shown to be a necessary molecule in the development of the auditory system, which is required to enable music to act as a relaxant…we believe that the complex NO signaling system is the primary and fundamental method by which music acts as a relaxation device.”
Not only is this NO good for healthy hard ons, but good for us in general. With heart disease being the leading cause of death in the U.S. (and possibly the whole world), we need all the stress relief we can get.
The next compound to talk about, oxytocin, gets mentioned a lot in magazines and other blogs. There’s even one of those trendy posters for it…
We’re still finding out much about oxytocin, but what we do know is that it increases bonding and affection between people. And guess what? Music is linked to higher levels of oxytocin. In one experiment, singing for 30 minutes was shown to significantly boost oxytocin levels. If you want to see this in action, just talk to a woman at a Michael Bublé concert.
So how do we make this all work? Sitting around playing your Prince album is not going to magically make you a better lover. It is highly recommended that you consult a music or sex therapist to get the maximum benefit of interventions and techniques. And guess what? My wife a music therapist that works with engaged couples, helping them to both plan their weddings and bond through music therapy.
You can find her info here: weddingtherapistaz.com (Another note: You do not need to be planning a wedding to take advantage of her services!)
This is a very brief overview of how music can greatly enhance sex and create the necessary conditions for intimacy in our body. Don’t take my word for it though, get in touch with your local music therapist and/or sex therapist. If you want to keep it basic, here’s my very own sex playlist…