With no visual distractions or directive pointers, an ethereal and often random collection of notes can be mainlined straight to the ears, the brain and ultimately the heart, connecting us on an emotional and visceral level that is almost inexplicable and yet very real.
From disparate sides of the musical spectrum, the full gamut of feelings and sensations can be accessed in seconds. Whether it be Little Richard's Tutti Frutti that gets the pulse racing in a surge of raw, adolescent abandon, or the haunting, tear-jerking melancholy of Abinoni's Adagio in G minor, music has a way of moving us like nothing else and momentarily transcending our constricted bodies and daily routines.
Throughout every season of the year and each momentous occasion in our lives there is appropriate music that conjures up the requisite sentiment, complements us and underpins our experiences. From the virtuoso to the tone-deaf, one doesn't need to be musical to appreciate it either. It can lift us up or bring us down; it can make us feel elated or even terrify us, often within the briefest of moments.
When the human spirit is in need of a celebration, the very first thing to be taken into account is the music. At an opening ceremony, street party, political rally, state occasion or sporting fixture, it's music and song that unites and unifies crowds in their collective jubilation - it's the glue that sticks us together. Go to any kind of live concert, from a dive-bar to a football stadium, and the collective euphoria and ecstatic joy from an audience is hugely tangible and palpable.
Music can even fire us up patriotically, without a single dogmatic word from any self-satisfied politician. If you find yourself abroad and hear a bagpipe lament or a piece of traditional folk out of the blue, I dare you not to feel nostalgic and pine for the homeland. Likewise, if some Bob Dylan or righteous punk rock hits the airwaves, you're probably more inclined to feel politically motivated and activist after that three-minute blast than before. The message, the energy and the sheer sonic force can change lives.
I find myself returning to particular pieces of music almost as a kind of personal therapy. When I need something to calm down, little serves me better than Brian Eno's ambient masterpiece Apollo - Atmospheres & Soundtracks, for example. Probably the most listened to album in my vast collection, I have wallowed in its luscious, soupy textures and heartwarming melodies countless times. It is like an essential balm I have to apply every once in a while.
On the other hand, when I need to buoy myself up and take on the world, a blast of 1960s Jamaican blue-beat and ska is almost guaranteed to inject my mood with a giddy optimism. Soul music makes me dance; singer-songwriters help me reflect; jazz and classical free my imagination; techno, hip-hop and rock'n'roll provide the party, and so on. These collected and arranged notes reflect my ever-changing temperament.
Increasingly in the world of contemporary music, many younger artists are eschewing staid and often predictable song structures and choosing to construct more atmospheric, long-form pieces which in many ways have more in common with classical music. While the immediate sugar-rush of chart-bound pop is still a huge draw, there seems to be a move towards more non-linear, amorphous work that aims straight at the hearts of the listener rather than at radio playlists. Take German pianist Nils Frahm, Icelandic multi-instrumentalist Olafur Arnalds or our very own noise-terrorists Mogwai as good examples of this poignant, evocative music.
When combined with images - moving or otherwise - music can feed the viewer's consciousness and help guide one's journey through a narrative. Just consider John Williams's ominous score to Spielberg's Jaws, Philip Glass's minimalist compositions for Koyaanisqatsi or John Carpenter's masterful, creeping synth backdrop to cult slasher Halloween. Without the music, these films would have been entirely unsuccessful and possibly even redundant.
As All Hallows' Eve descends upon us once again, our hunger for horror seems to know no bounds, and the musical backing will be as important as the pan-stick make-up and witches hats that will adorn the guisers and party-goers this coming Thursday. One must-see event is a rare screening of 1923 silent film The Hunchback Of Notre Dame featuring Lon Chaney and, crucially, a live organ accompaniment from Donald Mackenzie at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh. It promises to be a genuinely dramatic, gripping and creepy evening out, and it will be the organist who adds those truly terrifying touches.
Occasionally I feel as if we've become desensitised to much of the inventive, soulful and nourishing music out there, as we're constantly bombarded by audio from every angle in our hectic lives. On television, the internet, cinema, in shops, public buildings and restaurants, music is now absolutely everywhere. There's a foolproof reason for this of course. Theoretically it connects us emotionally to the place we're in or what we're watching, and can comfort us. Quite often though, it's just an annoying noise in the background.
Fundamentally, I don't think our real inner passions and desires are dulled in the long term. Once we hear that extraordinary piece of music at just the right time, we're transported. Music is still the ultimate mood-enhancer and improves our lives in incomparable ways.
Vic Galloway presents on BBC Radio Scotland on Mondays at 8.05-10pm, www.bbc.co.uk/radioscotland. His book Songs In The Key Of Fife is out now, published by Polygon. Contact Vic at www.twitter.com/vicgalloway