Raw Hardstyle – Music Without Feelings?

Raw Hardstyle or “rawstyle” dominated 2016 music-wise. I am in the scene for quite some years now and I never witnessed such a triumphal march towards the centre of hard dance music. Leaving the more euphorically styles behind, raw hardstyle was truly the number one topic. I never witnessed such a rapid increase of producers and events within this scene. However, I am glad that with 2017 a more balanced situation, production-wise, exists.rawstyle_wallpaper_2_by_hardiiIt was a lovely Tuesday, I was browsing the social media channels and randomly clicked on a video by Rooler, an artist signed at Gearbox, known for his crazy, rough beats. The title said “RAW+FEELINGS” and I expected some sort of preview out of his studio like usual. But, starting with a pretty provocative statement, by saying “rawstyle” can never evoke feelings within us, or is basically never associated with feelings, he really made me think about this topic.

He is definitely referring to one of the most common arguments to bash against raw Hardstyle. Is raw Hardstyle even able to create feelings in you, trigger them? Or does the “feelings-factor” really marks the huge and most remarkable difference between raw and euphoric?

What are feelings?

This question might be a little too open, since even psychologists don’t know how “feelings” and in the same way “emotions”, which we sometimes use in common, are working or evoke in particular. Theories are spread from all over the world, however, as this shouldn’t be the topic, the most basic definition or description of feelings is: Feelings are an emotional state or reaction.

Feelings can in that way be strong or weak, furthermore they are highly subjective and people’s reaction to specific triggers can be completely different. Feelings can also display some sort of attitude or opinion, anyway I’d love to go further into this by sticking to the first understanding of the term.

Now you might ask what is “emotional” or what are “emotions”. I just want to give a short quote here: “Emotion, a complex experience of consciousness, bodily sensation, and behaviour that reflects the personal significance of a thing, an event, or a state of affairs.” As you might have noticed now, the terms “feelings” and “emotions” are closely related and more or often used by us to express the same. Never the less you can find some pretty exciting similarities: Both words are referring in some kind to a reaction in us, either we show it or not, caused by some kind of event.

Besides the truly basic definition I gave above, let’s dig a little deeper how our body and brain is working, by sticking to more psychological definitions and studies. In psychology, feelings are the perception of events within our body! Interesting fact is, that back in the days the action of “to feel something” was not related to any special or specific organ, but with time and the discovery of our organs of sense, many psychologists assume, that “to feel something” or “feelings” are therefore dependent of these organs.14379843_1135786126498019_5442308555583694621_oBut, even this direction of research is basically declared as bullshit by many other psychologists, who in this case stick to Immanual Kant’s, a German philosopher, thoughts, stating that “feeling” equates a state of pleasantness and unpleasantness.

Good news for you, in the research of the psychology of feeling, psychologists are in one opinion when it comes to physiological changes by emotion. A theory by psychologist William James states, the theory is basically declared as true, physiological changes precede emotion. Now, furthermore, what can be those physiological changes in accordance to a perception, initiated by our body, of an event?

In a long series of experiments the psychology was finally able to show, that “major emotions involve excitation of the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system and that such excitation, because of the diffuse conduction, gives rise to a widespread set of specific responses of smooth muscles and glands—increase in heart rate, increase in blood pressure, inhibition of peristaltic movements, increased perspiration, and many others”.

Euphoric Hardstyle, raw Hardstyle – Transferring the knowledge

Now that we are all aware of the basics of “emotions” and “feeling” we can try to transfer it into our loved scene, by analysing what euphoric and raw Hardstyle causing to change in our body and therefore triggers our perception of this specific event, leading to a specific feeling and emotion!

Maybe we can work it out, by putting ourselves into a situation where those processes may occur. Think about your current favorite song, imagine you’re in middle of Qlimax’s dedicated crowd, it is the night of the nights, you’re in addition surrounded by your well-loved friends, your favorite DJ is currently playing and in this case, drops your absolute favorite track. A situation we all know and we all can imagine, right? No matter if your song is rather euphoric or raw, the moment it’s played definitely triggers a change within yourself!

You feel an evolving excitement, your heart rate and your blood pressure increases, you start smiling, you feel an increased amount of energy pumping through your body. The song evolved until its climax, the melody drops or an insane kick with some crazy screeches drops and you just can’t hold it back, causing you to go absolutely insane!15129468_10154579203826550_5754486355657538704_oI want to show and state clear, that feelings and emotions are definitely not dependent on a specific style of music! Music in general causing the physiological changes and therefore the perception of the song, leading to a feeling and emotion. The trigger is not defined as well as the perception, it can be all kind of elements within a song, surprisingly and may even leading an absolute raw fanatic to experience the same feelings during a raw Hardstyle track, as someone experiencing a euphoric Hardstyle song!

The difference is the point of view by people and what we are defining as logical reaction (->“feeling” / “emotion”) by different music styles. Connecting euphoric hardstyle with a more lovely, warm, inner and closely related feeling to maybe love, friendship, unity seems like the most common interpretation.

According to this, raw hardstyle is pretty much connected to a more aggressive, cold, and closely related feeling to the complete opposite of what many people are declaring as “this is emotional”! By extending this thinking into its extremes it leads people to think raw hardstyle is music without any emotion, without any feeling.

Phuture Noize & Josh & Wesz - Liberal

What does it mean? It simply means, that people’s expectation of emotion and feelings are more likely to cause such a view onto raw hardstyle, rather than it is the music itself! The based thinking of what does “it is emotional” mean influences the imagination of people about their prediction of what is the most common and logical reaction to music, causing them to ignore basic facts of the psychological research and in this case putting in particular raw hardstyle into the category “this is not emotional and never can be”!

It’s therefore we, who declare raw hardstyle as non-emotional, not the music itself. Think about it and you might come across the realization, that this is absolutely not true. Raw Hardstyle can evoke feelings, even the same as euphoric Hardstyle!

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