Have you ever felt that listening to sad tunes or music makes you feel good?
well, you are not alone! Majority of people who listen to sad music feel pleasant and ambivalent emotions connected to it, but they definitely do not feel sadder after listening to it.
Why does this happen?
When you are sad, you do not go ahead and eat food. You do not like or visit places. You would rather not go anywhere or eat anything, or eat what you like and go where you like.
Why does this phenomenon change around music?
In fact, you even listen to sad music when you are not sad too. So, what’s happening?
In a study done in Tokyo, it was found that sad music has both sad emotion and romantic emotion. Even though songs of a sad nature may talk about separating or splitting of a couple, you still tend to see the love of one or both parties as a positive, strong emotion.
Secondly, when listening to sad music, you think of it as a performance. The sad events in the song are happening to someone else and not us, therefore, you can view it from a distance and not get highly affected by it. Watching it from a distance gives us a kind of perspective that you may not have when viewing problems up close, when they happen to us in our life.
Another important and interesting finding of the study is that this finding was maintained regardless of the musical experience of the person. Therefore, a trained musician and a layman felt similar emotions after a sad song, so, this has nothing to do with how musically oriented you are.
The researchers of this study feel that listening to sad songs and gaining perspective can help you alleviate the negative emotions you feel in real life. You think that, as music has a somewhat unconscious impact as well, you may learn to deal with the negative emotion in your life without actively approaching it.
This could be beneficial for many people who are in denial about a lot of aspects, like the loss of a loved one. This could be an indirect way for them to get better.
Therefore, there are implications here for the therapeutic value of music. Just like children can be taught a lot of things through games, because they feel the game is happening to its characters and not to them, they do not feel the threat of a negative consequence and will learn better. Similarly, even adults can gain to learn a lot and process a lot of grief and sadness through sad music, which they cannot solve directly because of the heaviness of the grief.
This is perhaps why a lot of classical Indian ragas also have very intense, sad notes, in order for the audience to subconsciously sort their negative and sad emotions and to emerge with pleasant emotions in the process.