Why don’t “sad people listen to slow songs”? The emotional experience of music

Can You Play “Lost Rivers” at the wedding? The answer, of course, is no. Because when the melody rings, perhaps all the guests will be angry to leave the table. We always say, what occasion to put what music, because different music can bring people different feelings, for example, when raising the flag to play the national anthem can stimulate people’s pride, graduation “farewell” can increase the nostalgia of classmates and friends, love when playing “suger” brings pleasure and sweetness.

So how much can music give us?

A study published this week in PNAS sums up. Scientists from the University of California studied the emotional responses of more than 2,500 people in China and the United States to 2,168 musical clips and summarized 13 emotional experiences across cultures: pleasure, joy, pornography, beauty, relaxation, sadness, dreams, triumph, anxiety, shyness, annoyance, contempt and excitement.

Music also has “emotions.”

In an earlier study, scientists found that people can have 27 emotions when watching impressive video clips on You Tube. So in a recent study, they explored these emotions further.

The scientists first asked volunteers to search YouTube for songs that evoked emotions, and built a music library that related to emotions. Participants were then asked to rate about 40 music samples based on 28 different mood categories, positive and negative levels, and euphoria. Through statistical analysis, 13 major emotional experiences across cultural backgrounds are obtained.

In the next experiment, the scientists asked nearly 1,000 participants from China and the United States to rate more than 300 other samples of Western and traditional Chinese music. The reliability of these 13 categories is further verified.

  科学家根据美国和中国超过2500人在听音频剪辑时触发的13种主要情绪来绘制音乐样本。图片来源:Alan Cowen

How Music Affects You

Violin concerto Four Seasons is energetic, rock ‘n’ rock’s Rock the Casbah is exciting, heavy metal music is generally provocative, “Lost River” can be fidgeting, and My Heart Will Will Go On can make people cry. Why is music so magical?

In October 2019, a team of researchers from the University of Southern California explored this. Using AI algorithms, they processed the emotions of the people they collected when they listened to music, and found that when listening to music, our brains responded to the clarity of the pulses and the intensity of the beats, and that changes in dynamics, language, rhythms, and harmonies led to different emotional experiences.

It also explains why fast-paced, instrumental music always cheers us up, while slow-paced, single-instrumental music tends to make us feel calm and serene.

Effect is not yet known

Of course, scientists at the University of California also note that while music can have the same emotional response, it’s unclear whether these emotions have a positive or negative impact.

All in all, the new study reveals the secret seiss of how music evokes so much emotion, which may be used to evoke some kind of emotional psychological and spiritual therapy, but also helps to adjust domestic and foreign music streaming algorithms such as Spotify and NetEase Music to satisfy customers’ desire for music or to regulate emotions.