People hearing music for the first time

One video phenomenon that has me enthralled hook, line, and sinker is people hearing music for the first time.

Watching vicariously as others experience amazing music for the first time brings me so much joy. Sure, it’s entertaining, but it also feels like some form of reality hack that allows you to go back in time and revisit your own feelings when you experienced certain music for the first time.

Music is deeply ingrained in us and many of us can recall in great detail the specific memories around when we first heard some of our most favorite music. Music is some powerful shit! It hits us in our soul and moves us is ways nothing else can. That’s why I find these videos so beautiful and entertaining.

I feel like this guy hearing Rage Against the Machine for the first time may have been the first “people hearing music for the first time” video I watched. There are scores of videos like this, and they are incredible even taken at face value. Sure this isn’t a true fly-on-the-wall scenario; the camera pointed at someone undoubtedly encourages them to exaggerate their response. But the reaction is incredible nonetheless. Music conjures something up in us; it pokes at us and forces us to react. To be able to witness that reaction is amazing. I love it.

One of my favorite things to do (though sadly it’s a rare occasion) is to actively listen to music with my friends. When playing my favorite music for others, and I carefully study their reaction and eagerly await their commentary. Music is glue that bonds us even closer together with the people we love. We’re not only interested in our own dopamine hit; music is something we feel compelled to share with others.

What’s cool is how the “people reacting to music” category has seemed to evolve and expand. For instance, my daughter and I recently watched tribal people from Sindh, Pakistan experience Stairway to Heaven for the first time:

It’s tremendous to see how culture is transmitted and received across time and space; it’s so cool to witness others making connections to their own lived experience and cultural references. I feel like this cross-cultural reaction video embodies the spirit of both the universal nature of music as well as the ideals of the World Wide Web. I freaking love it.

And now we enter the sub-category of “musical people hearing music for the first time”, which introduces a wonderful new lens to all of this. In addition to getting their visceral emotional reaction of the music, musicians are able provide an extra dimension of analysis. They’re able to articulate why certain parts of a song hit a certain way, break down the music theory, and connect a song to its musical lineage:

And then taking it to a whole other level is a sub-category where ridiculously-talented musicians hear a song for the very first time, listen exactly one time, and then proceed to PLAY IT PERFECTLY NOTE-FOR-NOTE. Even if you’re not a drummer, do yourself a favor and witness Snarky Puppy drummer Larnell Lewis absolutely shred Metallica’s Enter Sandman after hearing it just one time. Just jaw-dropping musical knowledge and expert-level retention skills on full display:

Taking this supernatural exercise to the next level is having an expert musician hear a song minus the part they’re to play. Here’s Justin Raines hearing The Trooper by Iron Maiden for the first time sans bass line and then proceed to play an incredible (and incredibly close!) bass part to the song. Just absolutely amazing:

These videos are something else, and I find myself eating them up. To me, these reaction videos really underscore why music such an incredibly powerful force. I’m here for it!