There’s no evidence of another species that has acquired a liking to music as humans have. We love music. We like how it makes us…
There’s no evidence of another species that has acquired a liking to music as humans have. We love music (well, except for Freud, he hated it, really!). We like how it makes us feel. And one of those feelings is happiness. Something we need so much right now!
(not Freud, he had music phobia…okay, okay, I’ll leave it alone, but doesn’t it intrigue you that he just despised it?Look it up or read my article about it. Yeah, weird fella!)
When you survey people, they (or we, I’m definitely part of it) prefer to listen to happy music. Cheerful music as in fast tempo and in a major key. That’s a way to define it. And it’s not just we prefer it in a certain style of music. It’s across all genres! Amazing right? We prefer listening to music that makes us feel joyful. We crave for happiness.
So it’s important to know what this type of music does to us. What makes it so desirable?
Let’s start with the physiological part. You know how they say that when you smile you boost your immune system? Well, music can help with getting that positive mood. It actually helps boost secretory immunoglobulin A measured by saliva samples (Beck et al., 2006; Hucklebridge et al., 2010).
So… you listen to cheerful music, you get into a great mood, your physiology reacts accordingly and voilá! COVID-19 goes through the back door. Or it’s not even allowed in. Or we even become a powerful shield against it. Anyways, you get the idea (right?).
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” (Shakespeare)
Here lies the importance of how we perceive things. If we think the situation is bad (well, it kind of is with the pandemic, but just hang in there for a moment) we will react accordingly. We’ll either panic or become depressed, our health will deteriorate, we’ll maybe eat less, become more static (more than we already are in this prolonged but necessary quarantine), and more bad things may arise. So it becomes just a never-ending cycle.
Okay. Once in a while we can feel like that and just crawl inside our house and never want to leave it. It’s okay to feel like that. Just treat it as something that comes and goes. It will certainly pass (buddhism right there!). And when it’s difficult to get out of that zone, music can help!
There’s a study that showed how people who listened to happy music and had to rate people’s faces afterwards, classified the cheerful ones as more happy than they actually were. The sad faces were rated as less sad. People that listened to sad music rated those same faces as either less happy or sadder than the first group (Jeong et al. 2011).
So to happy music people, everything looked brighter. And music can help us choose that bright side of life.
That leads us to the next benefit of listening to happy music. When we listen to it (let’s say some Vivaldi, specifically when you listen to “Spring” from the Four Seasons…this one has been scientifically studied!) we enhance our divergent thinking.
What do we mean by that, you ask? Well, it’s what we usually call thinking outside of the box. We associate things in an unexpected way, we combine bits of information that lead us to a new solution.
Look at that phone replacing all those gadgets, isn’t that divergent thinking?!
To sum up…
Music and especially happy music can help us through these difficult times. We all need someone or something (both if we’re lucky) to cheer us up once in a while. And music is something we all have access to. Music (and more so happy music) can enhance our health, helps us see the world more positively, and make us more creative. So let’s use it to our advantage!
Take care, stay inside during the quarantine (and listen to happy music!)
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Beck, R. J., Gottfried, T. L., Hall, D. J., Cisler, C. A., & Bozeman, K. W. (2006). Supporting the Health of College Solo Singers: The Relationship of Positive Emotions and Stress to Changes in Salivary IgA and Cortisol during Singing. Journal for Learning through the Arts, 2(1), 19.
Ritter, S. M., & Ferguson, S. (2017). Happy creativity: Listening to happy music facilitates divergent thinking. PloS one, 12(9), e0182210.
Hucklebridge, F., Lambert, S., Clow, A., Warburton, D. M., Evans, P. D., & Sherwood, N. (2000). Modulation of secretory immunoglobulin A in saliva; response to manipulation of mood. Biological Psychology, 53(1), 25–35.
Jeong, J. W., Diwadkar, V. A., Chugani, C. D., Sinsoongsud, P., Muzik, O., Behen, M. E., … & Chugani, D. C. (2011). Congruence of happy and sad emotion in music and faces modifies cortical audiovisual activation. NeuroImage, 54(4), 2973–2982.
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