Everyone's always like, oh this song's good, this one's not; wow I got goosebumps from this track; OMG I just can't stop listening to so-and-so's new song, etc. And it's easy enough to sort of waltz on by and not give a second thought to it. Music makes us feel certain things and that's just fine – great, in fact.

But for the hungrier and more curious of our human world, questions like Why and How figure quite largely after any statement about our emotional responses to music. That's why Goldsmiths, University of London and University of Oxford teamed up to conduct some research into why and how we react to music the way we do.

Using pretty-big-deal German composer Richard Wagner's masterpiece, Der Ring des Nibelungen, aka the Ring Cycle (not everyone's cup of tea, I know, but still), this was a 15-hour experiment to get a better grasp on the psychology behind music. Monitoring micro-movements, sweat levels and heart rates of 8 volunteers as they watched the epic opera over four days (it is actually that long, you need to experience it in portions), researchers were able to measure how engaged and emotionally affected the participants were during the performance, helping us to understand how Wagner used music to ROUSE his audience – what about his composition causes the reactions it does?

In addition, the perhaps confounding element of experiencing music in a group was explored; can music synchronise feelings in a group of people, an audience, for example? At what points did emotional responses in the participants coincide?

One of the researchers behind this experiment, Dr. Daniel Müllensiefen (Senior Lecturer of Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London; also part of Transforming Musicology), elaborates slightly:

"Music has played a central evolutionary role for humans in social settings. Some early findings from this unique experiment show that people share emotional responses to music, particularly when Wagner uses techniques such as leitmotifs [these are recurring phrases in the music] to manipulate the audience's reaction, and this creates a sense of belonging."

They will be presenting the results of this experiment on 22nd November, this Saturday, at Birmingham Hippodrome as part of the Being Human festival, a UK wide Humanities-fest that celebrates all things, well, Humanities (subjects like history and music and psychology etc.) taking place between 15th and 23rd November this year.

Admission is free but you do need to book. So if you're in the Birmingham area, and you like music, go learn something about music on Saturday!