Researchers at UCLA have been studying the effect of music on human emotions. Specifically, what emotions dissonant (harsh, jarring, inharmonious) music invokes in us. They found that distortion and sharp changes in frequency generally made us feel more excited and carried negative emotions. It’s why rock music makes us so excited and the sound from the shower scene in Psycho is so scary.
“This study helps explain why the distortion of rock ‘n’ roll gets people excited: It brings out the animal in us,” said Bryant.
As an explanation, the group believes that distorted music brings up the long-engraved fear and excitement rush of hearing an animal in distress. Most distress calls involve a sudden, unnatural expulsion of air through the voice box. The result is a distorted version of their normal sounds.