How Does Jazz Music Affect Your Brain?

Posted by Mike Schumacher

There are many perceptions of jazz music. To some people, jazz music might just sound like unstructured noise. To others, it may carry nostalgia and be pleasant to the ear. However, in either of these cases, one may be missing out on the complexities that exist within jazz music.

Playing an instrument can help clarify these complexities, but the music still has an effect on one’s brain. The magic of jazz is not limited to its soulfulness; it goes much deeper than that.

Jazz has been a part of the music world since the early 1900s. It is the offering of the African American slaves who would play blues music in a bid to find some sort of catharsis. However, now jazz is known as a multi-faceted music genre with various musical elements apart from blues.

But it was only after scientific innovation that we started to appreciate the true power of jazz music. In today’s world, it is a widely known and repeatedly proven fact that music is beneficial for your brain and overall health.

Well, jazz, with its perfect mix of ragtime, blues, and marching band music, is known to be truly beneficial for your brain. So, what exactly is jazz music’s effect on your brain?

Listening to jazz music stimulates certain brain waves – alpha, delta, and theta – that ultimately lead to improved brain function. The alpha waves encourage your brain and your body to relax. The delta waves allow you to get a good night’s sleep, while the theta waves work to boost your brain’s creativity.

So, without further ado, let us list down the various ways in which jazz music affects your brain.

Stress Buster

If you want to get rid of the stress that everyday life eventualities keep adding to your already full plate, then listen to jazz music! Jazz is a surefire way to eliminate all of your stress.

When you listen to jazz music, it stimulates a calming effect on your body, which in turn signals your brain’s central nervous system to lower your heart and respiratory rate.

Also, according to research, jazz music has the power to improve your memory, focus, verbal ability, and mood! How, so? Well, stress tops the list of reasons that affect our memory and focus. And since jazz is known to kill stress, our memory, focus, and mood naturally improve when we listen to jazz music.

So, the next time you want to ace that biology exam, just listen to jazz music while studying for it! It will help you remember all of those difficult medical terms.

Sleep Inducer

Slow jazz can help you get that good night’s sleep that keeps evading you! It especially works wonders for people over the age of 50, since they are the ones usually plagued with sleepless nights.

How does slow jazz accomplish this task? It does so by way of reducing noradrenaline, which is your brain’s stress-related chemical. So, it acts like a calming sedative that helps you to fall and stay asleep.

“Almost Blue” by Chet Baker, “Blue in Green” by Miles Davis, and John Coltrane’s “Blue Train” are some of the best jazz options to help induce a relaxing sleep.

Creativity Enhancer

Jazz music is known to boost your creativity. How so? Well, reduced stress levels allow your brain to use its imagination more freely, even to complete logical thought processes. Listen to your jazz music at a moderate level if you really want to get those creative juices flowing.

The idea is that moderate noise levels increase your brain’s processing difficulty, which encourages abstract processing, and ultimately, leads to higher creativity levels. In simpler terms, a little struggle in

processing things will result in your brain taking creative approaches to understand it.

Fights Depression

When you listen to music, it stimulates your brain’s hypothalamus, the section of your brain that is responsible for regulating your heartbeat, breathing, and other body responses. The hypothalamus is also connected to your emotional activity.

Even though jazz is commonly thought of as a sad music genre drenched in blues, it has far outgrown that label— it has much happier and livelier tunes nowadays and there’s just so much variety for you to choose from.

So, jazz music, as other pleasurable music, makes you happy, which affects your hypothalamus, which then slows your heart rate, lowers your blood pressure and settles your breathing.

In fact, individuals who listen to jazz music are 25% less depressed than those individuals who don’t lend their ears to the magic of jazz.

Stimulates Your Brain

If you want your brain to have a good workout session, just listen to some jazz music. As you listen to jazz, you are actually listening to a continuous flow of multiple music instruments being played in sync, even though they don’t have any apparent link to one another.

Jazz music, by nature, is pretty eccentric and avant-garde. Jazz players usually employ a huge music vocabulary to add the pieces that might fit perfectly within their tune. Only people who are attuned to listening to jazz music are able to truly appreciate the beautiful sequence of the instruments.

The back and forth of the different instruments activate areas of your brain that correlate with the syntax of a language. So, your brain is able to effectively pick up the signals that jazz music is throwing at it.

Your brain tries to follow the rhythmic patterns of jazz music which tend to jerk and pop in sync. This attempt by your brain to keep up this the rhythm of jazz leads to increased hyperactive neural stimulation.

For a listener, recognizing all these different notes can be a serious mental task. And hence, the task of distinguishing these varied notes from each other makes for the perfect exercise to stimulate your neurons.

Teaches You to Expect the Unexpected

Studies show that jazz musicians are quick to pick up and accept unexpected alterations in chord progressions much faster than classical musicians. Now, why is that?

Well, we already know that jazz music thrives on improvisation, and jazz musicians are taught to use strange and eccentric chord structures that would normally throw off traditional music lovers.

So, since jazz trains you to do the unexpected, it naturally also trains your brain to expect the unexpected. Hence, it allows you to quickly adapt to improvisations in music without using a lot of brain power!


Jazz music’s effect on brain functioning explains why jazz is generally associated with people with a higher intelligence quotient. Creating and listening to jazz music require you to exercise all those dusty brain cells, memorize different tunes, and engage with the beat of different musical instruments.

However, that in no way means that jazz isn’t for everyone. It is such a multi-faceted genre of music that there is something in it for everyone. So, go listen to some jazz and experience the positive effects of jazz music on your brain!

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