It can feel like music is speaking directly to your heart. You may not know why a song is impacting you, but your emotions are able to understand. It is well-known that music can heavily affect our moods, and there are many reasons as to why. Music psychology has made many advancements since its inception, so let’s take a look at how and why music affects our emotions!

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Music Psychology: Why Does Music Affect Our Emotions?

It’s a well-known fact that music can affect our emotions and enhance that which we are feeling. But why is this and how does music impact our moods?

Music Is Another Form Of Language

Music is a language that is universal and can evoke many nuanced emotions. In fact, the brain processes musical syntax in the same way as it processes language syntax. In the same way as language does, it communicates feelings and ideas. This can happen through lyrics, chord progressions, riffs or beats that highlight or draw out feelings within ourselves.

Primal Reactions

At a basic, primal level, loud and fast noises excite us more than slow or quiet ones. This is because our brains are tuned to these types of noises in the environment. Certain melodies, chords or sounds are pleasing to us due to the way we divide tones into different pitches and place meaning upon them. It’s these automatic brain mechanisms that allow us to find meaning in music.

It Is Scientifically Proven To Affect Our Brains

There are many psychological benefits to music, such as energizing the body, pain management and relaxing the mind. Many studies show that the brain regions involved in movement, planning, attention and memory are activated whilst listening to music. The psychological effects of music can be powerful in forms such as music therapy. This can be used to better emotional health, manage stress and boost psychological well-being.

Music & Memory

We all have songs that remind us of specific points or events in our lives. This emotional connection to music allows us to remember events. We can be transported back to past times upon hearing certain songs. Our connection to music as humans goes beyond listening, and we base lots of events around music, or heavily integrate it. Think about graduations, birthdays, parties, weddings and so on, and think of how much music features in these events to heighten the mood!

Driving Factors That Make Us Listen To Music

When we listen to music, we do more than process sounds. Principal component analysis suggests that there are three underlying dimensions as to why we listen to music. These are:

  • To regulate arousal and mood
  • To achieve self-awareness
  • As an expression of social relatedness

What other reasons are there to listen music? Let’s take a look at more benefits of listening to music!

Benefits Of Listening To Music

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1. It Enhances Focus

Music stimulates various parts of the brain, and background music can improve performance on cognitive tasks. For example, upbeat music can improve our processing speed, and workout music pushes us to work harder or longer. This is because our bodies tend to mirror the energy of the beat, and we become more motivated by this. Relaxing study playlists have also been known to help with focus.

2. Music Can Reduce Stress & Loneliness

We’re not just talking meditation music or whale songs to help you sleep at night (although these are great examples!) Various types of music can reduce stress levels and boost happy hormones in the body, affecting the autonomic nervous system. Studies have found that those who had listened to some music recovered quicker following an identified stressor. Listening to sad songs on bad days can provide comfort, making us feel that we’re not alone in our experiences.

3. It Can Improve Memory

Music is used to help Alzheimer’s patients with their memory, and it helps all of us with our memory in daily life. We all have commercial jingles that we can sing off-hand from years passed… and that’s because hooks and riffs become established in our minds. Have you ever played a song that you haven’t heard in years and been able to remember the lyrics? This goes to show that music sticks with us and improves our capacity to remember.

4. Music Can Improve Your Mood

Listening to music plays an important role in arousal and mood in psychology, with the primary reason for playing music for most people is to improve their mood. Music can make you want to sing or move, which is also proven to improve your mood!

Final Thoughts

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There is a lot of scientific research out there which explains the link between music and our emotions. We hope you enjoyed our basic rundown, and would recommend these resources if you want to get more into music psychology!

The Human Nature Of Music

Why Does Music Make Us Feel?