How does music affect our moods?

How does music affect our moods, and why does it influence us in so many ways? In this post I will write about what happens when we hear different types of music. Some of this will seem like common sense, but until I looked further into this subject, I didn’t realise how easy it was to make a low mood much worse by listening to the “wrong” music. 

Music for meditation

Calm and gentle sounds can be used as a background to meditation. They help put you in a relaxed mood by slowing down your heartbeat. I also find that these ‘neutral’ sounds aren’t associated with a particular memory, so they can sometimes help clear my mind.

If you are not sure about meditation then I suggest you have a look at this great post from Alison:

Music for motivation

Upbeat songs can lift your mood and be very motivating. This is because the pace of the music quickens the heart. Happy tunes can therefore make you feel happy, or happier. Listening to tunes with a fast rhythm can give you energy to get through tasks like housework, or help you with exercise. 

Sad songs say so much

Sad songs are like a triple whammy. The slow beat, the melody and the lyrics combine to tell you a sad story, and can actually make low moods worse. They slow you right down. Yet, if you aren’t suffering a low mood, and you are generally happy, it’s possible that these sadder tunes can just serve to relax you.  

Memories are made of this

However, I think the biggest effect is caused when music triggers an actual memory. It is certainly when I feel it most. Music, or the lyrics to a song, can remind you of many things; a time, place, person or an event. That’s what makes it so powerful. It can bring back a good or bad memory. I also believe that happy tunes can trigger sad memories, and maybe sad songs can trigger happy memories too. It all depends on how that piece of music made you feel when you first heard it and perhaps how events have changed since. 

Lost in music

I’m sure you have heard of being “lost in the music” or have seen people with their eyes closed and swaying to a song. Music can transport your mind to a different place and time. Yet, you don’t always know how much a tune is under your skin until you hear it again, and that can hit you like a wave. 

a woman listening to music
Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Life is a cabaret

Musical theatre takes us through a whole range of emotions. If your overall experience of going to the theatre was a good one, then listening to the soundtrack should revive good vibes. This is because, even if there are sad songs within the story, your enduring memory is that you enjoyed the performance.

rows of red theatre seats
Photo by Kilyan Sockalingum on Unsplash

I should be so lucky

It can be a whole genre or style of music that affects your mood. Musicians use this knowledge to write popular songs. Christmas songs, summer holiday songs, dance music, etc. all have a formula. When we hear them our brains tell us what to associate with that tune, as we react to the formula. That’s one reason why we have favourite bands, and how we can identify songwriters and producers, because of the magic formula. Remember Stock, Aitken and Waterman

I don’t feel like dancing

The next time you choose a playlist, think carefully about why you have chosen that music. If you feel happy, you’re more likely to want to enhance that happy mood with your song choices. If you feel sad, you may be subconsciously choosing music that makes you feel even sadder. Or you might avoid a piece of music altogether, because the emotions that go with it are too strong. If music is making you sad, challenge yourself to listen to something new and with a faster beat. The combination of a change in tempo and no triggers could be the change you need to lift you back up again. 

Related post: https://marieceline.co.uk/music-for-moods

Thank you for the music

Music also has a way of bringing people together. Think camp fire songs, charity singles, or groups that have formed from adversity, or just choirs and groups in general.  

a man playing piano outside
Photo by OC Gonzalez on Unsplash

Performing music can also have great benefits. I would guess that most professional musicians started with music as a hobby. Having a hobby, especially a creative one is an excellent way to relax. When my son was in hospital he was offered music therapy, although he preferred to listen to Spotify or watch music videos on YouTube. Without a doubt it helped him through a difficult time. He still tells me now that he recommends a “party for one” when life gets tough.  

So now you have read this, please do tell me how does music affect your mood? What are your favourite tracks? Do you have different playlists depending on moods, or is it just a list of favourites? 

you are what you listen to red neon lighting on a brick wall
Photo by Mohammad Metri on Unsplash

As usual, I would like to say thank you so much for visiting my little corner of the internet – I really do appreciate it!

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13 thoughts on “How does music affect our moods?”

  1. Bernard Weatherley

    Yes indeed Marie.. music does affect my mood thats why I prefer mostly older music because I don’t like modern “pop” it winds me up . Classic fm is my favourite on the radio unless a soprano is singing. Best of all are Brass bands playing marches followed by male voice choirs.

  2. I have different playlists to go with different moods. When I’m feeling really low I find upbeat music annoys me. I do better when the tone of my playlist is just a little above where my mood is.

    1. Yes I can understand that. I think that’s another reason why I don’t like the radio so much – too upbeat! Thanks for commenting Ashley.

      I have got my Pick Me Up playlist on my blog tomorrow which is at a level I can just about tolerate 🙂

  3. This resonates with me so much Marie! I had thought that I mainly liked upbeat, happy type music, but reading through this made me realise how many other types of music and enjoy. I love listening to calming music when I meditate. And music is a huge part of my memories! I think I’ve noticed that even more since I lost my Dad last year. He was very musical and was always singing and whistling. Many songs (both happy and sad) remind me of him 🙂 Thanks for sharing and for including the link to my post 🙂

    1. Thanks so much Alison, and you’re welcome! I have the opposite problem in that I avoid so much music because of the way it links to past trauma. But I missed listening to music, so I’ve had to adapt to listening to other tunes instead.

    2. I love music and when I was in 3rd grade my mother arranged a music class for me..so I have a little training in both vocal and instrumental Indian classical music…😊 Music has always been my first love. I am forever in quest for good music but over the years my preferences have changed…now I listen to more soothing and calming music…
      I have different playlist as journal, dancing, classics 😊😊

  4. Loved reading this, all of it rings so true. There are a bunch of songs I can’t listen to because they’re SO linked to certain times in my life and I end up in a nostalgia spiral. And there are others were a certain part of the song, like a key change or something, will give me butterflies in my stomach. On spotify I have a whole load of playlists for different moods!
    Also did you know that there’s a certain percentage of people who aren’t affected by music at all? I can’t even imagine!

  5. Pingback: Pick Me Up playlist | Marie-Celine

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