The Connection Between Music and Emotions

woman listening to music

Picture this: you’re driving down a long, lonely highway in Utah. What’s missing? If you answered music through car stereos, you’re right.

Music and emotions have a strong relationship. For example, why do some people like listening to sad music? The answer, according to researchers in Japan, is that people can understand the sadness behind the music but don’t experience it so they can have positive emotions listening to a sad song.

Let’s discuss the other ways the music and emotions are connected.

Music and Pleasure

Music makes people feel good. When you enjoy music, the same part of your brain that takes pleasure in food or sex is triggered. Your brain releases dopamine, the neurotransmitter system that plays an important role in emotional and cognitive functions.

Researchers have discovered that the more you listen, sing, or play the music that you like, the more dopamine your brain releases. This may be another explanation for the sad music phenomenon. Because such music engages positive emotions, people keep on listening to songs about heartbreak, loss, or separation.

Music and Moods

Beyond feelings of pleasure, music can enhance moods. Have you ever designed a playlist for your exercise routine and created a different one for work? When you’re bored, what music do you want to hear? Something fast that will make you dance and blast away the boredom? Or something that puts you in a mellower mood.

Music and Memories

Musical memory is considered a long-term memory. It can survive years after other memories have overlapped it. But it can be revived with just a note from a song or a musical instrument. When the memory is remembered, the emotion associated with it is also evoked.

Some people even actively try to find certain music just to recall those memories. Some call this walking down memory lane. Others call it nostalgia.

Music and Perception

woman listening to music on her commute

More than its impact on what people feel, music can also affect how people perceive the world. Listening to happy music can make people view neutral subjects in a more positive light. Other types of music can evoke different perceptions, as well.

This is the reason why music is very important in marketing and advertising. Brands spend millions on music that will make them more appealing to their target consumers. It’s not just about the pleasing sound that is played with an advertisement. It’s music that connects to the emotions of people and motivates them to buy a certain product or dine at a certain restaurant.

Music can also affect how people perceivein time. Doesn’t time fly when you listen to music you like? This is especially true when you hear calm music that has a slow tempo like the music played in coffee shops. Customers can sit for hours with a cup of coffee and not notice the time.

The best songs to add to your playlist elicit an emotional response. When you’re stuck in traffic, you might want your car stereos to play something uplifting that will block your growing road rage. When you’re on a long drive, you’ll probably want to listen to something that evokes the freedom of a road trip.

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