Does Cannabis Make Music Better?
If you've ever wondered if cannabis improves your appreciation of music, the short answer is maybe.
The long answer is more nuanced as appreciation is a difficult objective trait to measure; however, if you'll indulge yourself for the next few moments you just might find something here to entertain and even surprise you.
First a clarification: this is not a guide on how to use cannabis, so I won't bother explaining the options for ingesting it. Likewise, I'm going to assume that everyone reading this knows what music is and have no need of an explanation of what constitutes "good" or "enjoyable" music; and it bears no need for mentioning that enjoyment is subjective as I seem to have reached a point where I no longer understand some new genres of music.
Finally, I'm using the term "cannabis" here to cover all forms of the drug including marijuana, hashish, and countless others—in short, this is about cannabis broadly defined.
The question then becomes, does cannabis enhance your perception of music?
It alters the senses you experience music with, but it directly affects only one of those channels—notably olfaction rather than hearing—so its effect is more nuanced than a simple intensification or dilution of your perception.
This is key because there's a misconception that cannabis distorts your capacity to appreciate music, but in fact I think it is more accurate to say that cannabis alters how we perceive music and the emotions we derive from it.
This may seem like a subtle difference, and in some ways it is, but there's also an important distinction: if appreciation of music is the drinking of cognac then altered perception is drinking from a cognac glass that has been poured into a fine crystal goblet.
In fact, it's more akin to taking a shot from one of the glasses they use to serve cognac at a five star restaurant—it isn't an entirely different experience but it is definitely amplified and changed in ways you might not initially appreciate.
The subtlety of the change is difficult to explain though, so allow me to illustrate: we know that we hear notes and not the manner in which those notes were produced. Indeed, if you can't appreciate a song based solely on its composition alone then it's likely that you're doing something wrong—and this is true for cannabis as well.
Cannabis is a non-specific amplifier, not a magic wand that enchants bad music, so don't expect it to make the Lil Baby sound like The Rolling Stones or the Black Eyed Peas sound like Fleetwood Mac—it won't.
The experience of cannabis is mostly about how you hear your music rather than what you hear, so if you 're listening to a song that made you feel good then cannabis will only enhance that feeling.
However, if you're listening to music that makes you feel good—and this is an important distinction because it isn't about the song but rather your experience of it—then I doubt there's any real question as to whether or not cannabis will make the experience better.
You don't need to be a scientist to understand that the enjoyment of an experience is greater if you're having it with good friends, and likewise cannabis can also take a relatively mundane musical experience and turn it into a great one by removing the tension between your mind and body. It may sound complicated for something as simple as listening to music, but it isn't—the key is in knowing how to enjoy yourself.
Every day is a gift and it behooves us to live presently.
To live presently is to engage ourselves in the moment. It's not about getting 'stoned', it's about connecting with yourself and your surroundings. Something most people very rarely do (I'm guilty of this too).
We've spent thousands of hours listening to music, but how often do we pay attention? How often are you really present to listen to your music? I don't mean just focusing on the music, but really listening from a place that is open and accepting.
Have you ever tried completing a task while distracted?
You make mistakes, enjoy the process less, you're not present and the resulting experience is less enjoyable.
Music is the same way.
If you're trying to listen to a song but something else is on your mind, it's harder to concentrate on what you're hearing.
But when you are in an attentive state of mind, filled with appreciation for the music
It will straighten your back if you are hunched over, relaxed your jaw if it is clenched, clear the fog from your head. It makes you really take in what has happened to you throughout the day.
Now ignore everything I told you about cannabis simply enhancing your perception of the present moment because it actually CAN change how we physically hear sounds.
Cannabis improves our ability to discern subtle differences in sound, which enhances the overall musical experience.
Sound is higher frequency and lower frequency waves physically interacting with your ear, this physical stimulus is then turned into a chemical stimulus and that is your perception dependent on how your brain processes music.
Your ear functioning is one part accepting the physical stimulus and the other converting it into a chemical communication package for your brain to interpret.
Your ears are the passageway into your mind and they contain cannabinoid receptors. It's through these auditory pathways that messages can be received directly from your brain to various parts of the body.
When cannabis is introduced to our perception of sound, music can take on an entirely new meaning.
Whether it's the extra layer in a complicated passage or the way an instrument sounds in contrast to the rest, things tend to sound different when you're stoned.
High volumes may become tolerable and previously unnoticeable aspects of your music become the focal point.
Cannabis can amplify or dampen your auditory senses (depending on what you're smoking and how much).
Rhythm, timing, tempo, all these things are essential to music.
Under the influence of cannabis, you will be able to feel the groove more clearly and have a greater appreciation for how it is being delivered by musicians.
Cannabis can speed up your internal clock so you may feel like you're not listening as fast as usual because everything seems to be happening so slowly.
This distortion of time can help you pick out components of your favorite songs that you may not have noticed otherwise.
the distortion of time process can allow you to hear more notes from the same music.
Creativity has been linked to cannabis use for thousands of years. From the songwriting of Bob Marley to the surreal paintings of Pablo Picasso, cannabis has been a driving force in some of history's greatest art.
Some experts say that cannabis can help musicians to access new musical ideas and to connect more deeply with their music.
Creativity flows best when you're calm, cannabis can help to "loosen up" the brain and allow for a freer flow of thoughts and creativity.
Cannabis can help you block the background noise and focus on the music.
Cannabis has been shown to have positive effects on creativity and musicality. It can help break down inhibitions and focus on the present.
Cannabis can also help you to "tune in" better to your surroundings, and this can be especially helpful for musicians who need to be aware of every sound in order to create the perfect performance.
Cannabis holds a special relationship with many musicians.
Some of the most iconic and legendary musicians of our time have been open about their use of cannabis.
From Grateful Dead, Louis Armstrong, Snoop Dogg, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Peter Tosh, Black Sabbath, many artists credit cannabis with enhancing their creativity and musicality.
You'll notice that cannabis spans all genera's of music, from jazz to hip-hop, classic rock, funk to drum & bass.
Musicians are almost unanimously agreed that cannabis can have a positive effect on creativity and musicality.
Many musicians credit cannabis with fueling their creative drive, or enhancing an album they're working on.
Mary Jane has long been persecuted and as such has been the victim of misrepresentation and propaganda.
Because of this cannabis has been adopted as a symbol of freedom by many people, especially within the music industry.
Music production has embraced smoking weed as a symbol of a freedom from oppression.
Stoner culture has been the nucleation site for artists to bring together those that are comfortable thinking against the common narratives and if you pay attention to your favorite musicians while under the influence you just might notice deeper meaning.
Anecdotal evidence gathered from intensive self study has led me to the conclusion that cannabis does indeed allow me to be more creative when playing guitar and coming up with lyrics. The altered perspective opens up different paths of thinking that I wouldn't otherwise venture on. The counter to this point is that maybe I just feel as though it sounds better because I'm stoned and to that I say: Does it really matter?
Regardless of your reasoning for consuming cannabis and enjoying music if it feels good it requires no justification to others.
While it's fun to analyze the deeper meaning behind our actions sometimes its important to just kick back to your favorite album with a doobie and let the background noise fade away.
Music and cannabis both have the ability to soothe and heal.
No matter what your reason for loving music and cannabis, enjoy it.