The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: What music gives you goosebumps or “skin orgasms”? | August 1, 2015

By Jacob Stockinger

A fan of the blog writes:

“Here’s a talker of a topic: Erotic reactions to musical moments.


“It’s not such a good video. But you could ask for suggestions.”

And that is what I will do: Ask for suggestions of music you find sexy and have a physical response to, with a YouTube link if  possible.

Leave them in the COMMENT section.

The Ear wants to hear.



  1. When the flute enters unexpectedly after a the long, slow piano waltz in the Adagio Assai movement of the Ravel Piano Concero in G.

    When tortured, dissonant Crucifixus turns with a jolt to Et Resurrexit! in the Bach B Minor Mass.

    Almost all of, but especially the resounding conclusion of, Anthony Newman’s pedal harpsichord performance of the Bach Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582

    Comment by Ron McCrea — August 2, 2015 @ 6:07 pm

  2. when the organ enters in Saint–Saens Third Symphony.

    Comment by elaine smith — August 1, 2015 @ 6:24 pm

  3. Any kind of -gasm works for me, and I suspect I am not alone… can I say that on a family blog! 🙂
    I neglected to mention two other pieces of eargasm material. Ravel’s Daphnis and Chole, and the Finale to The Firebird, of Stravinsky.
    Both these pieces are in sharp keys. I wonder, has anyone has made a study of whether flat keys can have the same spine and everything-else-tingling effects as sharp keys seem to for me, at least.
    Also, I get to play the YES song CTTE, and it does become difficult to concentrate on it when I perform it. I almost said ” it almost gets hard” to concentrate, but thought better of it… or did I?
    Laugh and some part of the world will laugh with you, but have an eargasm, and you -gasm alone, usually.

    Comment by 88melter — August 1, 2015 @ 3:55 pm

  4. The “Four Last Songs”, second song, by R. Strauss. I love the Jessye Norman rendition. The last song
    will go under a future post on pieces that bring you to tears.

    Comment by crayonsencore — August 1, 2015 @ 1:59 pm

  5. How about the “Oh My God!” moment?

    Comment by Ann Boyer — August 1, 2015 @ 1:16 pm

  6. There are a number of finales that I have always thought of as ” orgasmic,” though I’ve never heard of skin orgasms: Beethoven’s 9th, Wagner’s Rheingold’s “Entrance of the Gods into Valhalla,”Rossini’s “Barber.” Even “Iolanthe.” 🙂 As you can see, it’s the big crescendos and glorious bursts that tend
    get me.

    Comment by Steve P. — August 1, 2015 @ 10:44 am

  7. Mahler, 6th movement, Symphony No. 3.

    Comment by Anders Yocom — August 1, 2015 @ 10:28 am

  8. When I heard a live performance of the Brahms 1st Symphony, played live by the UW Orchestra, in the early 80’s under David Becker, I was “grabbed” so hard that I sat, enraptured, as if each note was being played just for me, and also being poured right into the depths of my Inner Mind’s Ear. I was enthralled like that for the entire piece. WHOA…
    Also, a piece of rock music, Close to the Edge, by YES, has that effect on me, even long after I stopped listening to it high, since I have been away from drugs and alcohol for 30 years.
    It is my contention that, when a person is ready or “primed” for such an experience, the next sufficiently impactful music to happen along will do the trick. Not some ad jingle, or the Bangles, but a music of both dimension and substance. This could come in many genres, of course. Live jazz can have this impact if the improvisations are really lighting fires!

    Comment by 88melter — August 1, 2015 @ 9:25 am

  9. I think everyone who heard the MSO play Waxman’s “Ride of the Cossacks” in March 2015 left feeling thunderstruck. It was great fun watching how folks were behaving as they left Overture Hall. Perhaps the MSO could find an excuse to play this short, frolicking, rarely heard piece again.
    Here is a well-filmed version by the John Wilson Orchestra:

    Comment by Janet Murphy — August 1, 2015 @ 9:23 am

  10. I was opera averse until I heard this. Now it’s goosebumps every time.

    Comment by Dean Schroeder — August 1, 2015 @ 8:57 am

  11. “skin orgasm”? So what if it’s used in a fancy New York magazine. Ewww. Does EVERYTHING have to be “sexy”? How about “profound”, “transforming” “deeply moving”? I find a lot of music to be one or all of those things, and “takes me to another realm”, as Ann says above. But to describe is as “sexy” cheapens it, reduces it to the most base human reaction. Music is much more than that for me.

    Comment by Kathy O — August 1, 2015 @ 8:47 am

  12. The final trio of Der Rosenkavalier takes me into another realm, esp. this recording:Strauss, Der Rosenkavalier, Final trio K. Battle, F. Von Stade, R. Fleming, 1992,found on You Tube.

    Comment by Ann Boyer — August 1, 2015 @ 8:22 am

  13. Well, calling one’s arm-hairs standing on end a “skin- orgasm” is your privilege –but we all know it ain’t the same thing!

    Sent from my iPhone


    Comment by Beatrice Pettit-Barron — August 1, 2015 @ 7:22 am

    • Thank you for replying.
      I share your point of view.
      But you will notice that the term
      skin orgasms
      is used by New York magazine
      and is visible in the name of the link.
      I put it in quotes to emphasize the subjectivity of the term.
      But yes, you are right.
      Not the same as the real thing!
      The Ear

      Comment by welltemperedear — August 1, 2015 @ 7:43 am

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