If you've ever wondered how marijuana affects the music you listen to, you join a long line of cannabis users who have noted how the herb helps us deepen our connections with certain songs. The astronomer Carl Sagan even attributed his better appreciation of music to using cannabis, writing in an essay that “for the first time I have been able to hear the separate parts of a three-part harmony and the richness of the counterpoint,” which was something he knew musicians could do but never experienced himself before discovering marijuana.
As negative assumptions about cannabis give way to curiosity, science has taken an interest in how marijuana affects music we listen to, but little research has been done on how cannabis and music “interact” in our brains to exhibit different effects than when we listen to something sober. Cannabis in no way changes the way our ears function to hear music, but the effects the herbs have on our bodies and minds may change the way we feel or think about a certain song while under marijuana's influence. Here we aim to fill you in on what we know so far about how marijuana affects the music you listen to.
1. Cannabis interacts with the area of the brain the processes auditory stimuli. Marijuana has been shown to affect how well research subjects can keep rhythm, recall song lyrics, and notice subtle differences in pitch and between variations of musical pieces.
2. Cannabis can cause a phenomenon known as synaesthesia, which blurs the lines between auditory and visual sensations. Some research subjects also report seeing musical notes or colors instead of geometric patterns when they close their eyes, or “arranging things” by sound.
3. Cannabis acts as a “psycho-acoustic enhancer” which means it makes users more sensitive to higher sound frequencies than sober listeners.
4. Cannabis distorts our perception of time and often makes us less able to integrate the past, present, and future. This lets us feel “in the moment” and focus solely on whatever music is playing at the time.
5. Cannabis relaxes our minds, which makes it easier for our brains to make neurological connections and process how we think and feel about a particular piece of music.