Do some people really not have an emotional reaction to music?

Is there such a thing as having no emotional connection with music? I asked someone what they listen to when doing VO2 intervals and he said he doesn’t listen to music when cycling, not because of safety but because it doesn’t do anything for him. For context, he double majored in music and biology and his 3 kids each play violin and piano exceptionally well.

He said music doesn’t illicit emotion and he can’t hear the lyrics in the majority songs, but he greatly appreciates the patterns and rhythms, which is why he majored in it. His kids apparently are the same way.

Is this possible? I never considered music not having an emotional impact on people. The hair on my head stands on end whether you play Shostakovich or T.Q.'s Westside, but I can’t play a instrument for the life of me, so I guess this is the flip-side of that same coin?

Oh, and music for VO2 workouts, I like:
Amon Amarth
Basil Poledouris
Wu Tang Clan
Busta Rhymes
James Brown


Wouldn’t be surprised. Remember the blue/gold dress thing? And aapparently some people close their eyes and can literally see what they are thinking play out like a movie. Or spelling words literally see the letters. Others “see” just black.

The mind is a funny thing.


I’m a lyrics guy; I wouldn’t say I emotionally connect to every song, but I definitely appreciate a well-crafted song (or poem, or novel, etc).

I sing to my wife all the time, and she’s amazed that she’s finally hearing the words of a song she’s known for years. I don’t know how she lives that way.


I’d sing to my wife but she doesn’t appreciate 90’s rap and being called a b---- :smiley:


Give it a shot, Too Short can be an aphrodisiac. :slight_smile:




It truly boggled my mind finding out some people don’t have an internal monologue.

Like, dude, you’re telling me you don’t talk to yourself?!?!


That’s some playlist! I swear the Riddle of Steel/Riders of Doom from Conan the Barbarian OST turns any of my workouts into VO2max when the choir kicks in! I’d also add the following to the list:

Jedi Mindtricks
Die Antwoord (which I wouldn’t even listen off the bike but man it works when you dig deep)

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I actually just worked out to Bob tonight. That album is in my normal workout (weights) rotation. :smiley:


It can be that when you spend a long time analysing music that you can’t stop analysing music.

As a performing musician I never went to live music gigs because I didn’t enjoy them. I’d just be thinking about what a bad job they were doing, how I would do something differently. Was the timing off, how is the tuning, etc.

However if he says he literally never enjoys any kind of music ever, then yes that’s weird.


If you are asking me if I’ve heard of a psychopath, yes I have.


Gettin It has gotten me through a tough interval once or twice.

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This is interesting. I’m one of the people without an internal monologue. I do not connect with the lyrics of songs- I’d be hard pressed to tell you any of the lyrics to even my favorite songs unless I’ve specifically looked them up. However, I am a musician and have a strong emotional response to the music itself (and the notes/quality of a singer’s voice, just not the words themselves, as if the voice were another instrument). I wonder if that response to music vs. lyrics is common among my fellow empty-headers.

There was a good article in the New Yorker about the different styles of thinking recently. I think it’s possible that the different styles of thinking could be connected to the Jaynesian theory of consciousness and the bicameral mind, but I’m not smart enough to do that and it’s a topic for another forum anyway.

Anyway, I was telling a coworker that my pre-race warmup music hasn’t varied in nearly 20 years and she though the playlist was hilarious so I’ll leave it here for posterity: “Faint” by Linkin Park followed by Fat Boy Slim’s remix of “Magic Carpet Ride” followed by “Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. They came on in that order randomly back in the when I had an iPod shuffle, I won the race and have used it ever since!


He enjoys it but not on an emotional scale, I guess, is how he’d put it. He said the patterns and rhythms are amazing and that’s what he listens for. I guess that tracks as the vast majority of the music his family listens to is Classical. He does not enjoy rap because it’s very lyrical which he can’t parse.

One good thing about music - when it hits you feel no pain


I’m with your friend. Music for intervals doesn’t do much for me. But I grew up in a house with zero music. And I mean ZERO.

For me, techno is the soundtrack for indoor intervals. Good BPM that ties well to cadence. Simple, repetitive lyrics, if they have any at all. The best recent lyric is “Rave Harder Techno Bass Sex Drugs and Alcohol”. A well rounded diet. :wink:

(Edited to add indoor to my comment. I would never listen to music while riding outdoors, from a safety perspective as well as to appreciate the environment I’m in.)


I was doing a midnight-to-noon time trial one time, climbing up a little hill into a full moon…Orion was laying down on the horizon…there was a screech owl calling in the background the whole climb. One of my favorite cycling memories.

I’ve ridden a lot at night. I love the sound of coyotes calling to me in a big black space while the gravel is crunching underneath me.

Especially this time of year, birds of prey are calling to each other. Another favorite ride sound.

Bobwhite quail. I love the sound of quail calling. I love the sound morning dove wings make when they take off. I love the sound of katydids during the hot summer rides.

And the wind through a cottonwood! Nothing sounds like the wind blowing through a cottonwood. You can hear it a long way away.

Nobody cares to listen to those things. Is this possible? I never considered the sounds of nature not having an emotional impact on people. But I guess we’re all individuals experiencing our own reality on the bike.


:+1: the sounds of ‘silence’ are beautiful music in their own right.

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I see what you’re saying and I agree, but in general I’m surprised that some people don’t have an emotional connection to music, not necessarily just on the bike.

I spend 90% of my time indoors so I need the music. If I ever found myself in the scenario you described, yeah I’d put my music away too :call_me_hand: