Why We Like Listening to Sad Music

Japanese scientists have found that listening to sad music may actually evoke positive emotions, even though the experience of sadness itself is widely considered to be negative emotion. 

What's the Latest Development?


Japanese scientists have found that listening to sad music may actually evoke positive emotions, even though the experience of sadness itself is widely considered to be negative emotion. "[The scientists] asked 44 volunteers, including both musicians and non-specialists, to listen to two pieces of sad music and one piece of happy music. Each participant was required to use a set of keywords to rate both their perception of the music and their own emotional state. The sad pieces of music included Glinka's 'La Séparation' in F minor and Blumenfeld's Etude 'Sur Mer' in G minor. The happy music piece was Granados's Allegro de Concierto in G major."

What's the Big Idea?

Scientists say there is an essential difference between feeling genuine sadness and understanding the meaning of sadness through art: A song that communicates sadness does not pose an actual threat to our safety. The critical distance created by imitative art may actually help people deal with their own negative emotions. "Emotion experienced by music has no direct danger or harm unlike the emotion experienced in everyday life. Therefore, we can even enjoy unpleasant emotion such as sadness. If we suffer from unpleasant emotion evoked through daily life, sad music might be helpful to alleviate negative emotion."

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Read it at Science Daily

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