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When `sad` music hits a `happy` note


Washington : Turn up those tearjerkers and dig out your Radiohead albums as a team of researchers has found that sad music can actually lift your mood.

Researchers at Durham University, UK and the University of Jyvaskyla, Finland, said their findings could have implications for how music therapy and rehabilitation could help people’s moods.

The musicologists looked at the emotional experiences associated with sad music of 2,436 people across three large-scale surveys in the UK and Finland. They identified the reasons for listening to sad music and emotions involved in memorable experiences related to listening to sad music.

The team said that the majority of people surveyed highlighted the enjoyable nature of such experiences, which in general lead to clear improvement of mood and added that listening to sad music led to feelings of pleasure related to enjoyment of the music in some people, or feelings of comfort where sad music evoked memories in others.

However, a significant portion of people also reported painful experiences associated with listening to sad music, which invariably related to personal loss such as the death of a loved one, divorce, breakup, or other significant adversity in life.

Lead researcher Tuomas Eerola said that the results help them to pinpoint the ways people regulate their mood with the help of music, as well as how music rehabilitation and music therapy might tap into these processes of comfort, relief, and enjoyment. The findings also have implications for understanding the paradoxical nature of enjoyment of negative emotions within the arts and fiction.

The three types of experience associated with listening to sad music (pleasure, comfort and pain) were found across the different surveys.

The researchers noted that experiences of enjoyable sadness were not affected by gender or age, although musical expertise and interest in music seemed to amplify these feelings.

Older people reported stronger experiences of comforting sadness, while strong negative feelings when listening to sad music were more pronounced for younger people and women.

Each type of emotional experience associated with sad music could be connected to a distinct profile of reasons, psychological mechanisms, and reactions, the researchers added.

The study appears in PLOS ONE. (ANI)

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