Why does music sound different with cannabis?
Research has not given us the answer (yet) to why this effect occurs. It is known, however, that cannabis acts on the part of the brain which is focussed on processing auditory stimulation. Anecdotal evidence suggests that people under the influence of marijuana are able to recall music and lyrics more effectively, and can understand better what it is about a sound that they enjoy. In practice, this could mean that under the influence of weed, musicians can better identify the best parts of a piece of music they may be creating, and hence produce higher quality music. Certainly this was the case with one of the most well-known stoners; Bob Marley. He and his band were known to religiously ‘smoke a spliff and recite a psalm’ before recording any music together, so that they might produce a better sound. ‘Good vibes for good music’ as one of the band members explained. There are also some reports of marijuana users experiencing synaesthesia while high. This relatively little-known feature of cannabis causes the lines between visual and auditory senses to become blurred; users can visually see the music as they hear it.
Marijuana is a proven muscle-relaxant. The drug also relaxes the mind, and because of this fact is used to treat anxiety. If a musician can create music without having to worry about what other people might think of it, they become more free to create whatever comes into their head, and preconceived ideas of ‘what music should sound like’ are disposed of. This leads to a path of freedom and means artists can create new and interesting original music.
Another theory has to do with how when you are stoned, you tend to focus more on the present than on the past or the future. With regard to listening to music, this effect manifests itself as an inclination to focus on music ‘note to note’ rather than thinking about the previous notes than have been played, or thinking about which notes may be played next.
Finally, one more theory focuses on the placebo effect of marijuana and music. Because of the strong ties between music and marijuana (think Snoop Dogg, Bob Marley etc), users actually expect the music to sound better when they are high compared to when they are sober. This expectation can mean that the user pays more attention to the music, and hence enjoys it more. This is known as a placebo effect.