There Are 13 Emotions That Music Brings Us According To Study
Marques Brownlee / Youtube
You might have noticed how listening to certain songs and genres influence your mood at times. Sometimes, we even turn to curated playlists to get us going through the day. If you’ve been boggled and amazed for a long time now, well good news as researchers from University of California have found out the underlying connection between them – and how to take advantage of them in the near future.
“Imagine organizing a massively eclectic music library by emotion and capturing the combination of feelings associated with each track. That’s essentially what our study has done.” – Alex Cowen, lead researcher.
The study is led by doctoral student Alex Cowen, which used more than 2,000 music samples to determine how different types of music influenced the emotions of people. The respondents were of two different cultures, as they were from America and China. Senior author of the study Prof. Dacher Keltner says, “We have rigorously documented the largest array of emotions that are universally felt through the language of music.”
For the study, 1,591 participants were recruited from the US and 1,258 participants from China, who listened to a total of 2,168 samples of diverse music. A first run of the experiment had a subgroup of US and Chinese respondents exposed to a music library of 1,841 samples, which was to be rated on 11 scales assessing for broad affective features. This led to a long list of possible emotional experiences that different types of music could evoke.
“People from different cultures can agree that a song is angry but can differ on whether that feeling is positive or negative,” Cowen shared. Succeeding experiments eventually filtered a range of 13 emotions that participants from both countries recognized: amusing, annoying, anxious or tense, beautiful, calm or relaxing or serene, dreamy, energizing, erotic or desirous, indignant or defiant, joyful or cheerful, sad or depressing, scary or fearful, and triumphant or heroic.
Songs such as “Rock of The Casbah” from The Clash elicited an energized feeling – a tie with Antonio Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons”. Meanwhile, Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” evoked erotic feelings while Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s rendition of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” referenced joy from the respondents.
Defiance was the main theme with heavy metal, while fear was felt with the track “The Murder” by Bernard Hermann, which was the background music for Alfred Hitchcock’s shower scene in the film Psycho.
“Music is a universal language, but we don’t always pay enough attention to what it’s saying and how it’s being understood. We wanted to take an important first step toward solving the mystery of how music can evoke so many nuanced emotions,” Cowen added.
The study can help provide practical benefits in the future such as therapies for psychologists and psychiatrists using music, or allowing music streaming programs to curate and suggest playlists that fit the listener’s current mood.