• Music can produce strong physical reactions in 80 per cent of listeners 
  • In a small number it is so intense they compare it to a sexual orgasm
  • The sensation includes trembling, sweating, tingling and even arousal
  • Scientists say the reaction is known as a 'skin orgasm' or 'frisson'
Music is well known for its power to move listeners, often to tears, but there are some people who experience it so intensely they compare it to having an orgasm.
The sensation, known as a skin orgasms, produces a feeling of pleasure so intense it can be felt all over their body, can produce trembling, sweating and even arousal.
A team of researchers have highlighted the powerful reaction in a recent review of the evidence surrounding the physical response people can have to music.

Music can trigger physical reactions like goosebumps (pictured above) in about 80 per cent of people, but a small number have an reaction so intense it has been described as a 'skin orgasm'. Psychologists say these people report physical sensations such a s trembling, sweating and pleasure all over their bodies 
Another study found that around 24 per cent of people experience tears, 10 per cent get shivers while five per cent get goosebumps on their skin.


Laboratory tests showed the songs below were most likely to trigger musical ‘frisson’ or skin orgasms in listeners.
1. Rachmaninoff - Piano Concerto No 2
2. Adele – Someone Like You
3. Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah
4. Bach – Toccata in F Major
5. Celine Dion – My Heart Will Go On 

However, they say a small proportion of people compare their experience to the sensory overload that accompanies a sexual orgasm.
Professor Psyche Loui, a psychologist at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, and her colleague Luke Harrison, said skin orgasm was a 'uniquely accurate description of the spectrum of musically induced emotional phenomena'.
Writing in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, they said: 'The term implies a pleasurable sensation that is paradoxically both universal and variable.
'It affects different parts of the body depending on the person and circumstances of induction, and retains similar sensory, evaluative, and affective biological and psychological components to sexual orgasm.'
However, the pair said the term rarely gets used due to its sexual connotations.

Classical music, such as piano pieces (like that pictured above) are best known for triggering these strong physical reactions, but the researchers say other genres can be equally as powerful. They say these reactions are best described as 'frissons' and commonly occur with unexpected harmonies and changes in music 

Instead they suggest using the word 'frissons' to describe the intense reactions listeners can have to music.
They said: '"Frisson" may be the most accurate and usable term because it integrates emotional intensity with verifiable tactile sensations not localized to any one region of the body.
'Its relative specificity and obscurity in popular culture allow it to avoid loaded cultural association.
'Furthermore, it does not have the thermal priming potential of the cold-inducing, "chills".'
The researchers also looked at research which has attempted to explore what it is about certain types of music that illicits these intense physical responses in people.
One study found unexpected harmonies, a progression of descending chords, melodic sequences and dynamic leaps.
Pieces that use notes that clash with the main melody, known as melodic appogiaturas, can also be powerful, much like in Adel's Someone Like You.
However, strong psychophysiological reactions are most commonly reported in response to western classical music.

Adel's song Someone Like You has been identified as a piece of modern popular music that induces a physical reaction in some people due to its use of melodic appogiaturas, where notes clash with the main melody
Professor Loui told BBC Future that she herself feels a fluttering in her stomach, a shiver down her spine and a racing heart when she listens to Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No 2.
She said for some people such experiences can leave them completely captivated.
She said: 'The aesthetic experience can be so intense that you can't do anything else.'
However, she says the tendency for classical music to be seen as the main cause of these reactions may be more due to bias in research than anything unique about it.
The researchers say other genres of music like pop, folk and those from elsewhere in the world also could also trigger similar responses.
There are a number of theories that are thought to explain why the human body reacts in this way to music
It is thought that it is linked to the release of dopamine in the brain – a hormone that deals with emotion and reward.
The auditory area is also thought to be connected to the emotional and reward processing areas of the brain.

Piano Concerto No 2 by the Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff (pictured above) has also been found to trigger 'skin orgasms'  and other pyschophysiological reactions in listeners