Why Music Makes Us a Giant, Blubbery Mess.


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We've all had this moment: we've had a pretty awful day and we don't want to talk to anyone, so we go to our rooms, lock the door, slip on our headphones and let the sad songs play. Whether your taste in gloomy music begins with Taylor Swift and Adele or you hate the mainstream and go for artists people don't know, everyone has those moments when they listen to music that makes them just want to curl up in a ball and cry. In fact, in preparation for this post, I have Ungodly Hour by The Fray on repeat, because it's a pretty depressing song. So what makes a sad song sad? I set out for the answer.

First, I found an awesome demonstration of what makes a song sad. A song in a minor key is much more effective than a song in a major key. Think of a musical: songs in a major key are your happy, dance-heavy showstoppers, while songs in a minor key are the lamentable, powerful ballads sung by, let's say, a hero who just lost the love of his life. The minor key often packs an emotional punch. Other factors pointed out are tempo and mimicry. Tempo obviously makes sense: an up-tempo song doesn't make you feel as sad as a slowed down song. Take these two songs below. Without You, the original, is a dance anthem that blows up the clubs. Without You, the Glee version, is a slowed down ballad. Which one packs a bigger punch?

Without You (Glee Version)

Without You (David Guetta Version)

True, not all songs in a minor key are sad. Sometimes, it just relies on the sad lyrics and the emotional stress the singer puts into a song. But did you know that sad songs can also make you feel better? It's true! Brent Houghtaling, author of a popular book about sad music, says that sad music can inspire a kind of catharsis in the listener and can make the listener feel better by knowing that someone else has gone through these experiences. Far stretch? Maybe. But it is kind of nice to recognize that someone else has gone through your experiences too (you hear that, girls, Adele and T. Swizzle know exactly how you feel!). So keep listening to those sad songs!

5 Comments

This makes me think about how classical music is said to make you smarter. I was looking around about what happens in our brains when we listen to sad songs, and I couldn't really find anything that you didn't find.

However, I saw that there were studies for classical music possibly increasing your memory.

The Mozart Effect is an anomaly of whether listening to Mozart's Sonata increases memory. There have been several experiments to determine this, but there are also many mixed results.

There are cases where it seems to improve memory, and then there are cases where its possible that everything else we listen to impairs memory, and that Mozart really doesn't have an effect on us.

Either way, music does have a huge impact on how we feel, and maybe how we think. Plus, I love listening to my jams.

This makes me think about how classical music is said to make you smarter. I was looking around about what happens in our brains when we listen to sad songs, and I couldn't really find anything that you didn't find.

However, I saw that there were studies for classical music possibly increasing your memory.

The Mozart Effect is an anomaly of whether listening to Mozart's Sonata increases memory. There have been several experiments to determine this, but there are also many mixed results.

There are cases where it seems to improve memory, and then there are cases where its possible that everything else we listen to impairs memory, and that Mozart really doesn't have an effect on us.

Either way, music does have a huge impact on how we feel, and maybe how we think. Plus, I love listening to my jams.

It all depends on whether you want to be optimistic or pessimistic. I am someone who turns to Taylor Swift when I am sad. Her album RED came out earlier this week and she has some pretty sad songs on there. One day I was listening to All Too Well and it made me miserable but the next day I listened to it and realized that if T.Swift could get through it then so could I. So maybe at first sad songs make you sad but then you realize that you can get through whatever the situation may be. So I agree, I also think that people should continue listening to the sad songs.

This blog made me think of a quote I saw that says "music is the sound of feelings." I couldnt agree more. There are so many reasons we turn to music, when we are happy and want to celebrate or when we are feeling down and find comfort in listening to a sad song about someone else who understands what you're going through. Frank Ocean said “when you're happy, you enjoy the music but when you're sad, you understand the lyrics." I think that pretty well explains the link between music and our feelings. This CNN article exaplains how music changes our brain by exercising it and connecting it to our pleasures, emotions, and even our language.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/26/health/mental-health/music-brain-science/index.html

How music effects our emotions is such an interesting topic. I just did a post on how music makes us happy, and i think the comparison between these two topics is really cool! I found that music that makes us happy is typically the music we enjoy the most. This may be upbeat music in a major key, but it could also be a song like "Someone Like You." If the song is really one that leaves an impact, the part of our brain associated with pleasure and reward will be activated while listening to it, and therefore cause a positive emotional response. The connections between music and emotions obviously run deep, and hopefully we can continue to research them.

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