Intense Musical Experiences may result in Greater Harmony. [pun intended]


How music changes our lives: A qualitative study of the long-term effects of intense musical experiences

Thomas Schäfer

Mario Smukalla

Sarah-Ann Oelker

Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany

Thomas Schäfer, Department of Psychology, Chemnitz University of Technology, Wilhelm-Raabe-Straße 43, 09107 Chemnitz, Germany. Email:


Intense musical experiences (IMEs) have proven to be of high significance for the people who have them. We investigated the long-term effects of such experiences on people’s way of life and developed a process model: (1) IMEs are characterized by altered states of consciousness, which leads to the experience of harmony and self-realization; (2) IMEs leave people with a strong motivation to attain the same harmony in their daily lives; (3) people develop manifold resources during an IME; (4) IMEs cause long-term changes to occur in people’s personal values, their perception of the meaning of life, social relationships, engagement, activities, and personal development. Results are discussed as they relate to spirituality and altered states of consciousness and conclusions are drawn from the process model that form a starting point for quantitative research. Results suggest that music can indeed change our lives – by making it more fulfilling, spiritual, and harmonious.