Is Music During Sex Good or Bad?

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So, I can kind of be a dork, which means (among other things) that I listen to classical music sometimes, particularly to WQXR 105.9 in NYC.

The other night, one of WQXR's programs had an unusual guest on: Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the legendary sex therapist. She was there to talk about music during sex, natch. Her take? Surprisingly enough, she thinks people shouldn't play music while they're doing it!

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While most people would agree that the right music can be a serious aphrodisiac, Dr. Ruth said the volume should be off when the making of love is going down. "I want everyone to concentrate," she said. "It permits fantasies to develop if you don't have background music."

What do you guys think of Dr. Ruth's take on the music question?

I myself won't go so far as to say that music can magically put me in the mood if I'm not at least part of the way there already — but boy howdy, it certainly can make me more rowdy and energetic. It can also make me feel more sexy — and I think the sexier a person feels, the more sexy she can make her lover feel, and the more sexy the whole throwdown becomes. Plus, music helps to make sex with someone familiar take on a slightly different hue — it can help enliven things, especially if you've fallen into a rut. If you ask me, music during sex is definitely more awesome, most of the time, than no music.

Am I right?

Some songs or albums that have helped me sex it up in the very recent past:

  • "Crystalised" by The xx (out of England)
  • "Little Lover's So Polite" by Silversun Pickups (out of Silver Lake in Los Angeles)
  • "Heart It Races," an Architecture in Helsinki cover by Dr. Dog

(Maybe someday, I'll do a post about my favorite sex albums. Would you like that?)

What's more, I can't think of a time when music actually killed my mood — or actually did anything but whet any sexual fantasies that might be roving around in my head. Nonetheless, I suspect if anyone put on Barry White before we were about to have sex, without a sense of the irony — if he did it because he was earnestly trying to be Mr. Sex Machine — I'd laugh the dude out of the room. It's one thing to dance to the song when it comes on at a wedding; it's another to actually have someone porking you to it.

And yet ... despite the fact that I am certain I myself have exquisite taste, I can remember at least two scenarios in which music I put on killed the mood for my lover. Once, when I put on a slow, moody jazz album called Night in the City, my dude at the time jumped up and changed it after about three minutes, laughing and saying, "I cannot possibly have sex to this!"

In another case, I'd hit "play" on a playlist of new-favorite songs that included a sassy little number called "Art Isn't Real," a.k.a. "City of Sin," by a groovy band out of Providence called Deer Tick. When it came on, my lover — who had been all over me until the moment the song began — rolled over and groaned. "What the hell is this song? It's ridiculous!" I didn't think it was so funny. And frankly, I think he was just using it as an excuse because ... well ... we'd already gotten plenty busy by that point in the night.

All of this notwithstanding, every once in a while, it's wonderful to listen to nothing but the sound of the rain on the roof, or the crickets out the window, or — if you're really lucky — the sound of the ocean crashing on the shore.

Dontcha think?