When I listen to a beautiful piece of music, for instance Quizas by Andrea Bocelli, I am feeling something is under my skin, moving. I don't know if there exists a word to express such an ineffable feeling.

  • 1
    Is the feeling you are describing unique to only hearing music? Can the feeling you are looking to describe be felt with other things?
    – ESR
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 1:46
  • @EdmundReed Mostly music and MV. I may have experienced no such feelings for other things yet. Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 3:36

5 Answers 5


My first thought was the word goosebumps (which often refers to literal goosebumps, but can be used figuratively as well, as in, "That music gives me goosebumps."). Then I saw an article that said:

Why Does Great Music Give You the Chills?

Have you ever been listening to a great piece of music and felt a chill run up your spine? Or goosebumps tickle your arms and shoulders?

The experience is called frisson (pronounced free-sawn), a French term meaning “aesthetic chills,” and it feels like waves of pleasure running all over your skin.

Listening to emotionally moving music is the most common trigger of frisson, but some feel it while looking at beautiful artwork, watching a particularly moving scene in a movie, or having physical contact with another person.

I don't think the word is all that well-known, but it might be exactly what you are experiencing. The word chills (used in the article's headline) might be a more well-recognized substitute.

  • More on the science of frisson and music can be found in this Smithsonian article.
    – J.R.
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 13:45
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    I sometimes describe it as "shivers down my spine."
    – Octopus
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 16:27
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    Welp. I learned something new today.
    – cjl750
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 19:26
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    @peterG - I think 'on' and 'awn' are pronounced the same, just like 'don' and 'dawn' are homophones (at least where I live). In any event, the pronunciation is in the original quoted article, not something I added in.
    – J.R.
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 13:31
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    @J.R. In most North American accents, "on" and "awn" are both pronounced /ɑːn/, where in British English, "on" is /ɒn/, and "awn" is /ɔːn/. The Cambridge Dictionary has "frisson" as /ˈfriː.sɒ/ (UK), and /ˈfriːˈsoʊn/ (US). (Though the audio for the UK is actually /ˈfriː.sɒ̃/.)
    – wjandrea
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 17:57

euphoric or euphoria


But when I wrote the check, it was the most euphoric feeling.


She was flooded with euphoria as she went to the podium to receive her Student Research Award.

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    "I wrote the check", "she went to the podium to receive" The question is about listening to music.
    – idmean
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 17:57
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    Please don't plagiarize. If you are "borrowing" example sentences from other dictionaries, provide a link.
    – J.R.
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 18:01
  • Catharsis or cathartic may fit in certain situations as well, though I prefer Rudy's 'euphoria' here.
    – Eternal21
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 18:09
  • @J.R. - LMAO plagiarizing a dictionary :D
    – Davor
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 20:56
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    @Davor - It's not a laughing matter. We expect dictionary references to be cited on ELL.
    – J.R.
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 21:44

If the music so good it is sublime you might be experiencing "numinous".

This word is for when something is so good that you can't help but detect a hint of divinity or spirituality in it. This is also good for when you have deep seated connection to your fellow humans, perhaps after some great work of good you all share in numinous solidarity.


I've heard it referred to as an "Aesthetic Moment".

I am not a musician. I'd give a better reference if I could find one. The best I can do is say that I heard my daughter's high school chorus teacher use the phrase.

Another possible answer would be "bliss".

After reading JR's answer, it occured to me that a nice piece of music might give The warm fuzzies

In the time since I originally posted this, I've become aware of ASMR which, as far as I can tell, is a more scientific explanation of "Warm Fuzzies"


I encountered this article which explained that phenomenon, and find some good expressions from it:

  1. music gives you goosebumps
  2. have intense reactions to music
  3. react to songs in this heightened manner
  4. people experience chills
  5. people get goosebumps upon listening to music
  6. body completely changes when listening to the song
  7. listening to supposedly "sad" songs could actually boost someone's mood

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