Finally, research proves I’m not an unhappy person! For years, my friends have constantly criticized my choice of sad Vanessa Carlton tunes, always encouraging me to listen to happier, more uplifting music, but I have consistently declined. But according to a new study, listening to sad music can actually make you happy!
The study, conducted by scientists at the Tokyo University of the Arts and the RIKEN Brain Science Institute, claims that listening to sad music may trigger the opposite feeling it is meant to evoke. Researchers were curious to figure out why humans continued to listen to sad music if it only bummed them out.
Forty-four volunteers listened to three different songs, two considered “sad” and one considered “happy.” Some of the volunteers were musicians, while others had no previous music experience. After each volunteer listened to Glinka’s “La Separation” in F minor, Blumenfeld’s Etude “Sur Mer” in G minor, and Grandado’s Allegro de Concierto in G major, they also listened to each one in the opposite key, so minor-key pieces were played in major keys, and vice versa.
When each volunteer rated their emotional state and the impact each piece had on them, the researchers discovered this:
“[T]he sad music was perceived to be more tragic, whereas the actual experiences of the participants listening to the sad music induced them to feel more romantic, more blithe, and less tragic emotions than they actually perceived with respect to the same music.”
Ultimately Professor Ai Kawakami, who worked on the study, concluded, “Music that is perceived as sad actually induces romantic emotion as well as sad emotion. And people, regardless of their musical training, experience this ambivalent emotion to listen to the sad music.”
So listen on, sappy music lovers!
[Photo of woman listening to music via Shutterstock]