11 minute read

By Karissa Schaefer

The Sixth Love Language

I wanted to send this song to you. I hope by the time it finds its way, it still makes sense. Maybe it’s not worth reading the rest of this letter; the song is so powerful that there are no words in the English language that describe more perfectly how I feel about you -- about us -- than this track. I hope your standards aren’t Alex Turner’s profession to Alexa Chung high, but the level of passion remains the same. I can’t get you offmy mind lately, and I don’ listening to this on repeat is helping or hurting my case. At least I c here with me with eyes closed lume up. Do you rememb


by Karissa Schaefer Visual by Ashley Onnembo Flash by Kenny Wood

Just as people often attach memories to specific songs, I attach people to them, struck by not only the profound impact they’ve had on my life but also my music taste.

*Chelsea Gibbons is the Head Copyeditor of Five Cent Sound Magazine. She did not edit or revise this article before its publication.

As I shuffle through my 1,000+ liked songs on Spotify and come across the perfect one, my immediate reaction is to share the experience with a friend. I often think about how I discovered a song, and eight times out of 10 it was sent by a friend. Just as people often attach memories to specific songs, I attach people to them, struck by not only the profound impact they’ve had on my life but also on my music taste.

There are five official “love languages,” otherwise described as how we receive love from others: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. What isn’t included is music, the unofficial sixth addition that nearly everyone can relate to. Sharing songs allows a small yet revealing snippet into someone else’s life.

I’ve listened to music my whole life, but it wasn’t really until I came to Emerson that I was actually able to hear the music. Here, everyone around me uses it as a vital enhancement to their life. And because of my friends, I can say the same about music’s role in my own life.

Chelsea Gibbons*, a junior Writing, Literature & Publishing major, listens to music to expand upon preexisting emotions. Before Emerson, she solidified her stuck listening to what she knew best,

such as Taylor Swift and One Direction.

Now, she credits her Emerson social life with making her a more musically cultured person, starting with her roommate.

“She introduced me to a lot of music, like Phoebe Bridgers, Jack Harlow. So many people I never knew about or listened to,” Gibbons said. “Especially with that friendship, it made us a lot closer because we could bond over music, and she introduced me to what she liked and I got her into Taylor Swift. My other friendships at Emerson too, music is very central to them, especially my girlfriend!”

These relationships Gibbons fostered encouraged her to dive deeper into the music scene. She’s mixing up the genres she listens to, discovering more rap, R&B and alternative music, but she’ll always be a pop lover and Swiftie at heart. As an Apple Music user, her method of sharing songs is exclusively over text.

“At Emerson, I’ve been a lot more willing to explore other people instead of just sticking to what I know, and I explore a lot more smaller artists instead of just big name top artists. I got more into different genres, too,” Gibbons said. “A lot of my close friends who I still send songs to also have Apple Music, so it works out.”

Josie Arthur, a Sophomore Theater & Performance major, is a singer who comes from a family of musicians. Known as JOBIE when it comes to their art, they associate the word “music” with its constant presence in their upbringing. After years of writing music, they want to create songs that they would listen to themselves. By recording improvisations of themself singing and playing the guitar, they piece the song together, leaving no room for mistakes.

“If I’m going through something and I want a song that describes that exact emotion — and a lot of times, it’s not possible because nobody has my exact experiences, so I can’t find the exact song I want — I’ll

just write it,” Arthur said. “It’s fun to listen to music, but I also pretend I didn’t write the song for a second so I can get that catharsis.”

Sharing their own music with loved ones is a deep, personal experience. After coming to college, Arthur would send their parents written songs, eager for the two to hear and be proud of their work. When they choose to send someone a song, it is with care and affection for the recipient. Shared musical experiences impacts how she views a song and the relationship she has with that specific person.

“When you love people, you just want them to know about you and the truth about you,” Arthur said. “When I love someone, I just want to be completely truthful and honest. Sharing songs I made or songs that convey that specific type of message or feeling I’m trying to get across in an honest way.”

It really wasn’t until I was able to create a Spotify Premium Student plan that I could finally appreciate music for what it is. With Spotify being the only streaming platform I actually pay for, I clearly take my music very seriously. It’s hard to describe what specific music genre my style fits into considering how varied it is, but I love anything with a good beat or something smooth. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good melancholic, chill music moment when I’m in a specific mood. But my ideal listening experience involves anything upbeat, something I can happily dance and move around to. No matter the mood, everything from the lyrics to the rhythm can be thoroughly heard and hammered into my brain. Whether it’s blasting music in my Honda Civic with the windows down, going for walks with a friend, or singing out loud while listening to a group session, music is with me everywhere I go.

Two of the biggest influences in my music “love” life,

without a doubt, are my current roommate Miranda Nicusanti and my day-one college friend Nathan Phaenephom. The two of them both accumulated over 100,000 listening minutes on Spotify last year. Most of the substantial music I have garnered, some that I listen to on the daily, has been taken from them. Of course, I’ve done my part by sharing music as well; seeing the same people everyday means there’s bound to be some crossover.

Nate’s given me so much indie music — TV Girl, Tyler the Creator and SZA to name a few — to the point that I made a whole playlist inspired by him. Miranda always has new artists on her radar; as my EDM partner, she constantly queues the genre on our Alexa.

In response to an Instagram story about how music impacts their friendships, some Emerson students said, “Not really” or “It used to,” while others said, “Yes, absolutely!” and “I love receiving music because my friends have good taste, but I’m not as good with sending.”

Gibbons sees music as an easy way to express emotions to friends, which can make a difference in the dynamics of her various relationships. Asking or being asked, “What’s your favorite song right now?” is as synonymous to, “How was your day?”

“I would definitely consider [sharing music] a love language because it allows you to connect with people differently,” Gibbons said. “Music allows you to say a lot of things that you wouldn’t be able to say with words. When I receive a song or I send a song, you can show you’re thinking about them and that song reminds you of them, and that’s a very touching thing.”

I love the community music fosters. One of Spotify’s features includes the sidebar displaying friend activity. Here, users can snoop on what song somebody’s currently listening to, or if they’re not active, what the last one they played is. It updates in real time, allowing a peek into their current mood based on the music they have on. Maybe they’re listening to a spe-

cial shared playlist or a new song by an artist you like. Regardless, songs say a lot about how someone’s feeling — if you see a friend listening to something like “Ribs” by Lorde, maybe it’s time to check in with them to make sure they’re okay. Additionally, sharing AirPods or tuning into a group session holding up to five friends opens the music world up in a unique way. This is taken to the next level when Spotify releases their end-of-the-year Wrapped series, in which statistics show a user’s most listened to songs, artists, genre and more. Everyone shares their top fives in these categories across social media, creating another opportunity to connect musically. Interactions between each other show comparisons of music tastes, mutual interests and disagreements. It’s another glimpse into who someone is, and it’s the perfect chance to discover new songs and artists.

As something that has accumulated and passed on between generations, music is everywhere in everyone’s own environment in some shape or form. Impacted by it in her own way, Arthur describes themself as having a “biological knowledge” of each song that played on the radio. While becoming increasingly involved in the world of music, they learn more and more every day.

“My music taste is just a product of all the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had and how I felt in reaction to those, then the music for the mood I wanted to feel as a reaction to those,” Arthur said. “Now I’m becoming more knowledgeable because I want to, but also if I want to talk about it with people and connect with them about it.”

Though in some part thanks to social pressure, Arthur’s knack for discovering various different kinds of genres and artists made for a natural diversification in her range of music. Notable singers like Phoebe Bridgers and the band Neutral Milk Hotel inspire them to look for others similar.

“You don’t have to know every artist to be a lover of music, but if you’re going to be an artist yourself,

Songs say a lot about how someone’s feeling — if you see a friend listening to something like “Ribs” by Lorde, maybe it’s time to check in with them to make sure they’re okay.

it’s good to get influences from a lot of different places,” Arthur said. “That’s why I’m still searching to diversify because I wanna get more of that feeling again like how it felt to first listen to those albums or freshly listen to that song.”

Music has chemistry and creates chemistry within our social lives. It’s a shared experience that increases the cohesiveness of social groups. That’s why it’s so influential — particularly on Emerson’s campus, where everyone is collaborating on artistic projects. It’s a language that promotes the development of group identities, but also someone’s individual identity. It formulates who they are through beats, lyrics, and rhythms that personally connect.

I don’t know if it’s because of my dance background, but I can’t resist moving around to my favorite upbeat — or any beat for that matter — songs, quite literally like no one is watching. Alaina Reyes and Mercy Suarez are my two favorite impromptu dance partners, particularly to Daft Punk. Even walking through the Common, exploring the streets of Boston, or being in my LED lit shower, music follows me. I may not always be with my friends when I’m listening, but it certainly feels like they’re with me.

Arthur and their dad use music to connect with each other, even when they’ve over 500 miles away. They consider discussions about music and its artists, songs, and anything in between a love language, some-

thing to bond over with another person.

“Creating things with people and collaborating is a love language as well because if you’re both really proud of what happened, you made that together,” Arthur said. “It’s something I enjoy doing, and I talk about that stuff with my dad or other musicians. I love talking about that kind of thing with people that are actually interested.”

Arthur has been introduced to new music from various prominent people during different stages of their life. People such as their parents and past romantic partners have shown her genres from pop to sad indie, adding to their palate and expanding their range. They credit an ex for transforming their music taste for the better and exposing them to one of their all time favorite songs.

Branching out their individual tastes through others has allowed both Arthur and Gibbons the chance to reflect on how they grow as people by ways of songs that can be associated with a specific person or memory. Music can be a very universal language amongst very divergent individuals.

“Relating to people through music is a very profound thing,” Gibbons said.