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How Does Music Change A Mood?

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Oct 4, 2009
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As I was running out of topics to discuss over Youth Voices, I started to acknowledge the fact that I was in somewhat of a weird mood. I wasn't happy, but I wasn't sad. At first I blamed the weather, but that was pointless being as I love rain and clouds. So then I turned my thoughts to what kind of music I was listening to. It was Breaking Benjamin's new album, Dear Agony.This is an incredible album, and it gets better the more I listen to it, but the music and lyrics are somewhat dark. They even have a song titled "Hopeless." So then I started to wonder if it was music that affected my mood. And of course it is. On a warm summer day, I will play something like Collective Soul, and I will feel completely happy. When I need motivation for something, I'll listen to songs such as  "Push It" by Rick Ross or "Obsessed" by Mariah Carey. Anything with a really loud beat and a mediocre tempo. And think about a really suspenseful movie, would the moments be as suspenseful without the creepy violin music? So how does music affects emotions?

 

     According to the Psychology Press Music is a complex acoustic and temporal structure that induces a large variety of emotional responses in listeners.
The nature of emotions created by music has been a matter of much debate. Preliminary practical investigations have demonstrated that basic emotions, such as happiness, anger, fear, and sadness, can be recognized in and created by musical stimuli in humans.
Associated Content

Although this quote does not fully explain why music affects us, it begins to. The author of This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obession, Daniel Levitin says:

 

    Music activates the same parts of the brain and causes the same neurochemical cocktail as a lot of other pleasurable activities like orgasms or eating chocolate -- or if you're a gambler winning a bet or using drugs if you're a drug user. Serotonin and dopamine are both involved.
Wired

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter found in the brain that regulates movement, emotion, motivation, and the feeling of pleasure. It's connected to the reward system of the brain. Serotonin is another neurotransmitter in the brain that includes mood and behavior, physical coordination, appetite, body temperature, and sleep. So it makes sense that music gets those neurotransmitters to work and either change or keep our mood the way they are. Another theory I read was that certain types of music bring back memories that trigger emotions, which sound like a really good theory. Personally I never gave too much thought to this, I just figured it was the minor and major scales used in a song that affected moods.

Comments

Dear Alyssa   I know

Submitted by Oliver.Diamond on Sun, 2009-10-04 15:56.

Dear Alyssa

 

I know exactly what you are talking about, I also do that too when I am in certain moods I listen to a type of music that fits how I am feeling. When I am about to swim a race I have to put some pump up music, or when I am doing art I feel that some classical or jazz is necessary. I found it really interesting how a part of your brain manipulates the music that you are listening to, to changing it into an emotion. I totally believe it, for instance if I am listening to heavy metal I feel like getting really mad at something or when I listen to old Hip/Hop I feel like dancing or relaxing. Even though they haven’t fully proven that music changes emotions I strongly believe that it does.

Great Post! Keep up the good work.

Sincerely,

Oliver

 

 

I agree.

Submitted by JocelinG on Fri, 2010-06-04 20:02.

I agree.

Alyssa, I really enjoyed

Submitted by creimer on Sun, 2009-10-04 17:14.

Alyssa,

I really enjoyed reading your post "How Does Music Change A Mood?" because I have been very interested in this question for quite some time.  Personally, I have felt my mood change according to the different types of music I listen to.  For instance, when I listen to the new Dave Matthews Band cd, I feel very happy and upbeat; if I listen to Jack Johnson or Tracy Chapman I feel calm and relaxed; if I listen to a cd of calm, slow songs that I made then I feel kind of down and a little sad.  I find it all very interesting and I feel like this information can be useful to some people that want to change their mood. 

Even though I have been interested in this question for a while, I never took the time to research it or look into it more, so the information you have provided is very helpful!  For instance, I had no idea that types of music affected connections to your brain: "Dopamine is a neurotransmitter found in the brain that regulates movement, emotion, motivation, and the feeling of pleasure. It's connected to the reward system of the brain. Serotonin is another neurotransmitter in the brain that includes mood and behavior, physical coordination, appetite, body temperature, and sleep."  Another part of your post that I agree with is that music can trigger memories from the past, because I have had person experience with that before as well.

I really enjoyed this post!  Thanks for the information.

Chelsea

Dear Allysa, I enjoyed

Submitted by rcaravati on Sun, 2009-10-04 17:27.

Dear Allysa,

I enjoyed reading your post. i find it really interesting how music can change our mood and feelings. As you stated in your last paragraph there is another theory that deals with music and memories. I can relate to this because there are types of music and some specific songs that bring back memories form me. Keep up the good posts

Ross

p.s. i got the idea for my post from yours thanks.

I agree with both of you!

Submitted by JocelinG on Fri, 2010-06-04 20:04.

I agree with both of you!

Dear Alyssa, I really

Submitted by dcawdery on Sun, 2009-10-04 18:16.

Dear Alyssa,

I really connected to your post, "How does music change a mood?", because I have also noticed the variation of my mood when listening to certain type of music. I have noticed that I will listen to certain genres of music to enhance a mood I am feeling. If I want to be happy, I will listen to some relaxing "feel good" music that will keep me in the mood that I am in. Like Oliver said, I will also listen to pump up music before a game or a meet to keep me focused and excited. I also believe that listening to music creates or enhances an emotion. When watching a scary movie, I have realized that the only thing that makes me feel scared is the suspenseful and eerie music. If I were to put one of these movies on mute, I know I would not be scared at all. Music truly does affect how I feel.

Thanks for bringing up this point Alyssa!

-Dylan

Music affects emotions by

Submitted by angelad on Sun, 2009-10-04 18:51.

Music affects emotions by how the song(s) sound like and how does the singer(s) feel about singing the songs. When I was listening to the song "Friends" from a japanese singer, since I understand japanese, it really made me feel much more better because it's about that no matter where your friends are, they'll always help you and remember you in any way.

Go figure, now I know why

Submitted by JocelinG on Fri, 2010-06-04 20:08.

Go figure, now I know why the people in the 1800- the 1900 were alot more calmer and peaceful then the people now. They had music like Mozart and Beethtoven.

Alyssa, I really agree with

Submitted by isaacjl on Sun, 2009-10-04 21:57.

Alyssa, I really agree with your post, music really does change the mood of something. In addition to this idea though, i think that you should also bring up the idea about music in movies. I strongly believe that music in movies really sets the tone for the movie. Take for example, if a movie has really suspenful music, it makes the movie a little more edgy, and if the music is really happy, then the movie seems happy. I have always thought that someone should do a study to see if they took a scary movie and put really cheerful and happy music in it, if it would be as scary.

I really hope that you build on this topic next week thankyou for the idea.

Alyssa- I enjoyed your post

Submitted by laurenschultz on Mon, 2009-10-05 01:05.

Alyssa-

I enjoyed your post because this is something that I have wondered for a long time as well. The music I listen to almost always matches my mood-often times I won't really realize or acknowledge what kind of mood I'm in until I really pay attention to my music choice. For example-I won't realize I'm irratated or angry until I realize i keep skipping all of the upbeat music that comes up on shuffle. I also agree that music plays a huge role in movies-scenes wouldn't be half as dramatic, heartfelt, intense or upbeat without the backgroud music. I also liked the part about "certain types of music bring back memories that trigger emotions", I find this to be true, when I listen to certain songs or genres they will strongly remind me of events or different times in my life. Overall, I thought your post was very interesting and I think this would be a great topic to expand upon, good work!

-Lauren

Dear Alyssa, I am currently

Submitted by npuoy on Mon, 2009-10-05 17:43.

Dear Alyssa,

I am currently reading the same book you mentioned above, This Is Your Brain On Music by Daniel Levitin. I haven't read far into the book but it is definately interesting so far. You and I share some of the same experiences. There are times when I am really upset and frustrated and during these times, I go to my room and blast my music to something with an upbeat tempo.

Another thing is when I'm working out, I listen to intense, upbeat music because then I feel like I'm accomplishing something.

I like what you had to say about music and intense movie moments. I'm sure every movie would be super dull without any music to accompany it.

I completely agree that music can trigger memories. Whenever I listen to the song Say It Right by Nelly Furtado, I always remember the times I lived in Sugar House. I don't understand why this occurs but I have experienced it.

I personally love music so thanks for a great post!

cool as ever

Submitted by brunap on Mon, 2009-10-05 18:52.

cool as ever

Dear Alyssa I Feel what you

Submitted by fhayes on Tue, 2009-10-06 17:21.

Dear Alyssa

I Feel what you are saying it depends on your mood of your song choosing. I could be mad and listen to 50 cent albums talkin bout killing drugs,etc. When im happy I could hear john legend. When i want to just vibe and chill I will listen to usher or joe.

One sentence that stood out for me was "So then I started to wonder if it was music that affected my mood" because this makes me think of the music i listen to when i am in certain moods. i might also bump wayne when i want to get pumped or hyped.

I do agree with you that one reason I say this is because I dont just listen to one genre of music and I can realte to you.

Thanks for your writing and I hope to hear from you soon.

Dear Alyssa, I think that

Submitted by kendral on Tue, 2009-10-06 21:06.

Dear Alyssa,

I think that music really does change moods because i know that my music will always cheer me up when i am feeling down.

Thats true, what type of

Submitted by JocelinG on Fri, 2010-06-04 19:58.

Thats true, what type of music would that be.

I connected with your post,

Submitted by hrashid on Tue, 2009-10-06 21:59.

I connected with your post, "How Does Music Change Your Mood?" because I noticed I often allow music affect the way I am feeling. I like to relate to lyrics rather than the music itself. By concentrating on the lyrics, I can see how the song is similar to my situations. The type of music that I will listen to depends on what I'm going through.

One sentence you wrote that stands out for me is "When I need motivation for something, I'll listen to songs such as  "Push It" by Rick Ross or "Obsessed" by Mariah Carey." I think is interesting because when I need motivation, I don't have to necessarily listen to an upbeat song, it just needs to have encouraging lyrics.

Another sentence that I agree with is " And think about a really suspenseful movie, would the moments be as suspenseful without the creepy violin music?" This stood out to me because I never thought of background music in movies as a way to relate to the mood of the scene.

Your post reminds of something that happened to me. One time, I was upset because of I was in a situation where there was an end to an important relationship I had. At first, I listened to songs that related to my situation, like "starlight tears" and "what do I do?" When my friend showed me the song, "sweet silver lining" by Kate Voegele, it gave me hope. The lyrics are simple but powerful to me.

Thanks for your writing. I look foward to seeing what you write next, because I think there are many things I can relate to you with. You have interesting prespective of things and I agree with them.

I basically just started to

Submitted by JocelinG on Fri, 2010-06-04 19:57.

I basically just started to answer your question: How does music change a mood?

My answer: Music changes a mood because of its rhyem and sound.  They have many different types of music such as country, rock, hip hop, pop, jazz, rap, classic, r & b and many others. Just by listening to a certain type of music you can change a person's entire aditude.

Alyssa,   I enjoyed reading

Submitted by pscilla on Wed, 2010-07-21 13:47.

Alyssa,

 

I enjoyed reading your post! This is some of my favorite kind of science: the kind that makes us think about how things in our daily lives affect us.  I really liked how you came to this question by thinking about your own experiences.  I'm glad you were able to find such interesting information about the topic.

 

I liked how you described your thought process around your emotions on that rainy day.  The way you describe that you started out thinking about the weather, then realizing that you like rainy weather so there had to be another reason, was funny and familiar.  I think I do things like that all the time.  Sometimes, when I'm trying to find the reasons behind a feeling or something I'm doing, I go for the easiest answer first, without really thinking if it's the right answer.  I'm glad that you kept looking for the right answer, though, because it led to such a cool post!

I wonder if you can improve people's moods through music. Like, if your mood will still be affected by the music if you're not making a choice about the type of music you're listening to.

Thanks for your post! It gave me a lot to think about.

-Priscilla

Effects on us by Song!

Submitted by joeyp on Fri, 2012-09-14 09:11.

Dear Alyssa,

my topic is actually the same topic, how does music affect mood?

I like that you said "And think about a really suspenseful movie, would the moments be as suspenseful without the creepy violin music?" I believe music does affect mood, when you rock out, it's usually loud. when your motivated its usually in between loud and soft. when your sad, its usually soft. It's like when you walk into a concert and your excited but not overflowed with it until that first loud, and upbeat song starts.

Another thing you said was "Music activates the same parts of the brain and causes the same neurochemical cocktail as a lot of other pleasurable activities like orgasms or eating chocolate -- or if you're a gambler winning a bet or using drugs if you're a drug user. Serotonin and dopamine are both involved." This helps understand why music has an affect on mood. Almost makes it seem to easy to understand, that music can affect your mind for one listen through the ears, makes your actions different, even the attitude you do them with.

Thanks for your post, I needed help on my topic anyways haha. look forward to what you write next.

Music

Submitted by BrittanyR on Fri, 2012-09-14 13:38.

I completely understand how different types of music can change a mood. I love listening to music and depending on my mood, I like to listen different kinds. For example, I know that when my brothers work out they like loud and fast music. Sometimes I listen to softer music when I am falling asleep. The songs that are on my phone are so different from each other but they suit most of my moods. Sometimes I like fast music and other types I like light soft music. It all depends on my day that day.