Listening to really good music right now, I was wondering why it raises goosebumps.

Is there any physiological reason for this reaction to specific wavelengths or something?

EDIT: Due sometimes strong vibration, roadwork for example, raise goosebumps too I reckon it's about the wavelengths but if someone could explain what is happening and why, that would be great.


  • $\begingroup$ I hope this is the correct SE, music.SE is not i guess. $\endgroup$
    – jawo
    Feb 18, 2015 at 11:58
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It may be on-topic here, but Cognitive Sciences.SE may also be worth considering - feel free to cross-post. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Feb 18, 2015 at 12:15
  • $\begingroup$ Chris makes a good point here but I do like this question. Check this information out seems like this is an active field of study (ie how it results in a sympathetic response). exploratorium.edu/music/questions/goosebumps.html $\endgroup$
    – rhill45
    Feb 18, 2015 at 23:58
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    $\begingroup$ Just read this... nature.com/neuro/journal/v14/n2/abs/nn.2726.html $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2015 at 2:44

2 Answers 2


It's a phenomenon called Frisson. From the wikipedia page.

Frisson (French for 'shiver') is a sensation somewhat like shivering, usually caused by stimuli. It is typically expressed as an overwhelming emotional response combined with piloerection (goosebumps). Stimuli that produce a response are specific to the individual.

Frisson is of short duration, usually no more than 4–5 seconds, usually pleasurable.1 Typical stimuli include loud passages of music and passages that violate some level of musical expectation.[2]

There is some interesting research that shows it occurs when a sound contains certain chords or has certain notes because of how our biological setup reacts to those specific notes. See the "crying chords" that were supposedly present in Adele's song "Someone Like You". npr article about crying chords


This is an emotional response which elicits a physical response. All emotions stimulate the hypothalamus, a part of the brain, which controls responses such as goose bumps, increased heart rate, and sweating. With goose bumps, the hypothalamus is sending messages through the nerves to contract muscles in the skin, in effect creating 'goose bumps'. More chemical research needs to be done to further understand the pathways of emotional responses to music.

  • $\begingroup$ can you come up with some analogy, for example, to behavior of other animals? It seems that as is your answer is too non-specific, would be cool to add details $\endgroup$ Apr 15, 2015 at 9:07

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