Fireworks: Our needs and its connection to Music.


What is so fascinating about fireworks? Why do we use them for celebrations?  Let’s explore.

There are a number of reasons why people find fireworks fascinating including:

1.  People seem to be captivated by pyrotechnics. In our era because of its unique combination of controlled, careful choreography coupled with that exciting sense that anything might happen.  It is a combination of spellbinding cocktail of science and marvel, raw power and beauty, colour and noise.

2.  Fireworks are transient and brief in nature. We know that we can enjoy them and they will be finished. However, this fleeting event leaves us wanting more.

3.   We may enjoy fireworks because they are only available for a few days of the year. It is the power of the access and restriction. If fireworks were available every day, boredom and ‘‘ho hum’’ would set in.

4.  We love them as a spectator because we do not have control over them as compared to the remote control of our TV. Watching a fireworks display means that we have no control over the display, its length of time they light up our retinas.

5.  To fully appreciate a display, you have to be physically present to it to experience the vibration felt in the stomach when that shell explodes in the sky; and the medley of colour and light.  Watching it via the internet or TV provides some enjoyment, but are colourless (pardon the pun) representations of the real experienced event.

6.  There is a sense of unknown for the spectator.  What will be next? Is it bigger and better than the last firework?  Obviously, a good choreographer will ensure that there’s an ebb and flow to a display. This increases the sense of unknown and wonderment for the spectator.

7.  It excites our minds as we wonder how these fireworks happen. This is particularly true for some children who become fascinated, research more and later on take up a profession the science field. The wonderment and enquiry of the mind is powerful. Fireworks continue to thrill and amaze minds of all ages.

8.  For many people, they use the fireworks to say goodbye in their minds to bad experiences, struggles and pain. It is as though we let all of these experiences explode as we attempt to get a clean slate and a fresh start.

9.   Some displays of course will be synchronised to music which adds another dimension to our sensory experience.

 However, at the basis of all these reasons, there is one more powerful consideration.   Fireworks represent at a psychological level both the traditional and dangerous side to our personalities.
Tradition: Fireworks occur for special events like weddings, New Year’s Eve, Anniversaries of Countries (e.g. (Australia Day or Independence Day) and of people such as 21st parties.

Fireworks bring out the traditional side of the personality because it can engender safe, enjoyable childhood memories or memories of the people with whom we experienced the fireworks long after the fireworks have gone.

Obviously, fireworks also can fire up our dangerous side to our personality.  For some people, engaging in risky behaviours is very reinforcing for people. For others, it can cause release of a chemical in the brain that helps people feel good. The chemical is a neurotransmitter called dopamine and it is released when we engage in behaviours we enjoy, such as eating, drinking, and sex.  Some people release dopamine when they engage in risky behaviours.

However, it should be noted here that we vary in how much they find risky behaviour reinforcing. People who are high sensations seekers enjoy risky behaviours more and seek them out.  If we are low sensation seekers, we are more likely not to enjoy risky activities and will avoid them.

Are you a high-risk seeker or a low risk seeker?  Is your experience of fireworks a wow or a ho hum experience? The answer may be in our physicality.  Physically when we examine the dopamine system of high and low sensation seekers, high sensation seekers have differences in their dopamine system and have more activation of the dopamine system when they are presented with new and complex stimuli.

Nevertheless, whether we are a high risk or low risk seeker, there are many reasons why we all enjoy fireworks at some level.  The answer lies within ourselves.



Although fireworks and technics have come a long way in our own era, there has been a fascination for fireworks over the centuries.  As mentioned previously, music can be synchronised with the fireworks.

 A classic example of music associated with Fireworks is “The Fireworks Suite’’ by G.F. Handel. You can click on the link to read more about this fabulous work.   

Whether you need a sense of tradition or want to engage in higher risk behaviour, here is a work  that can give you both-

 You do not have to wait for both sides of our personalities to be gratified.  Let our senses be treated.  Use your imagination for the fireworks themselves to satisfy the risky side of the personality, whilst quenching and reassuring our traditional side. Set the scene for ourselves with a nice drink and use our ears to gratify our inner need for fireworks.

If Fireworks Suite and Handel do not appease your need, then what are some alternatives?  Here are a few suggestions:

1. Symphony No. 59 in A major ‘Fire’ By Josef Haydn

The name ‘Fire’ was not given to his Symphony No. 59 by Haydn himself.  However, its name remains because of its energy which starts in the first movement and crackles with ornamentation in the second movement and continues through assisted by the fast tempo of the final movement punctuated by the bright call of the horns.

2.Chariots of Fire is a 1981 musical score by Greek electronic composer Vangelis (credited as Vangelis Papathanassiou) for the British film Chariots of Fire, which won four Academy Awards including Best Picture and Original Music Score.

3.  Michael Daugherty: Fire and Blood – I: Volcano

Michael Daugherty was inspired by artist Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry Murals and the paintings of Freida Kahlo, which record the tempestuous relationship between these two artists.

In response to their highly emotive creations, he wrote what he has called his own ‘musical fresco’ – a violin concerto rather gruesomely entitled Fire and Blood. The first movement of the work, ‘Volcano’, is a forceful and threatening piece, constantly teetering on the edge of eruption.

The soloist’s cadenza (solo passage) is full of suspense, hissing and flickering like a flame, and the movement ends with a bang, like an explosion.