If you’re anything like most people, when you hear the word “anabolic” it’s in reference to anabolic steroids. The majority of people don’t properly understand the meaning of anabolic, and it’s opposite, catabolic. Well, I will give a quick definition of each before I twist the meaning a little.
Anabolic, in the body is simple substances being made into complex substances, requiring energy (such as using proteins and such to build muscle).
Catabolic is the opposite, breaking complex substances down into simple ones, creating energy (such as digesting food or breaking down fat).
When most people go into the gym, they go to get bigger, stronger and faster. They want an anabolic effect afterwards to recover from the catabolic workout. However, did you know that this anabolic response most guys want is actually considered the “female” part of the whole process? And the part where they break down the body in training (catabolic) is actually considered the “male” part? I can’t remember the name for this, but it has to do with the anabolic building up and nurturing (female) and the catabolic being powerful and destructive (male).
What has this got to do with music? Now comes the time where I twist the meaning a little. Although the labeling of male and female for catabolic and anabolic comes from the Yin/Yang philosophy or something (first heard this idea from Elliott Hulse), I won’t be talking primarily from there. However, I will still use the labels because I like them. But since this truth of necessary opposites has been recognized by cultures and societies all across time and the world, I will reference the Bible since I am a Christian:
“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace”
In relevance to what I’m saying, one verse in particular sticks out “a time to tear down and a time to build up“. This is the same basic truth that I mentioned above with our bodies natural catabolic and anabolic responses. And if it is good and necessary in the body, it is good and necessary without (outside) the body. That is where music comes into play.
Now that I’ve done all the explaining in the background, I can brief here. I have recently categorized the music I listen to as Catabolic and Anabolic. The Catabolic stuff is the “hard” stuff most guys are proud to listen to, and the “Anabolic” is the stuff they usually try to avoid listening or at least not admit to. Here’s a short personal list:
- Jackie Evancho
- Lindsey Stirling
- Baroque/Classical/Romantic Era
- Tiffany Alvord
- Most Movie Soundtracks (LoTR, The Eagle, etc.)
This is by no means a complete list, but it gives you an idea. Now for the Catabolic category, they are all full bands (and virtually all male). Some of their specific songs I classify as Anabolic, but the band as a whole is in my catabolic list. For the Anabolic list, that is where females actually begin to come into play. I find this interesting that without trying, the male/female roles of the catabolic/anabolic music automatically comes into play with my choice of music. I’m not sure if this is a wide rule with music in general, or if I just respond better to music in that way (catabolic with a male singer/band and anabolic with a female singer/band).
So I encourage everyone to find music in both categories for themself. What you consider catabolic, anabolic and enjoyable may be completely different then it is for me, but that’ doesn’t matter. The balance is good and necessary.