There has been countless research pointing towards the profound affect music can have on our mood and emotions. Studies show it can help with memory and music therapy is making waves in the treatment of many different cases. Music releases dopamine, the chemical in your brain that works towards emotion regulation and communicated with the front of your brain associated with pleasure; and listening to music can trigger specific nostalgic memories. It’s easily recognised that listening to music can make you happier, bringing up better times or simply boosting your heart rate. But what about sad music?
Whenever I’m sad, more often than I might admit, I listen to sad music. It seems counterintuitive, but it helps. There are several theories into why listening to sad music can be a useful coping mechanism.
Or substitute emotions; basically, means that we can feel something without implications. There’s no real-life danger, so you can feel ‘negative’ emotions, disconnected from the threat or cause behind it. It allows you to feel all the emotions generated by the music and in a way, purge yourself of your own feelings. Sad music can act as a channel for these emotions. The music can also help to disengage you from your own emotions or put words to what you’re feeling.
When we listen to sad music we connect with the musician in a remarkable way. We relate to them, share the emotions, the loneliness or grief. They act as a companion, coping with the same thing you are coping with, even if they’re not really there, their music can provide company and comfort. Which for people alone, or uncomfortable with direct human contact during periods of sadness, can be a highly valuable connection.
“Who hears music, feels his solitude Peopled at once.” Robert Browning.
In the simplest of terms, sad music gives us companionship, distraction, and sometimes justification for how we’re feeling, and allows us to process and cope with these emotions in a relaxing way. Music has so long been connected to our emotions that it seems rather obvious that sad music should move and inspire us as much as any other.
For me, sad music is an awareness into how people feel, a reminder that I’m not the only who feels it. It’s company without people and connection without having to talk. Recently, ‘Laughing on the Outside’ by Bernadette Carroll, for no reason really, other than her marvellous voice.
There’s a beauty in sad music that not only makes it something good to listen, but’s soothing, and when I’m sad, listening to happy pop song feels a bit like a punch in the gut that makes me unnecessarily angry towards the artist. For the company, the familiarity and the soothing sounds, I will always turn to the mournful melancholic to fill the silence.
Do you listen to sad music when you are sad? Let us know below!