The Answer To Why Sad Music Appeals So Much To Us Is Here

Posted on July 18, 2013 in Media

By Lata Jha:

Ever wondered why you’ve spent so many nights listening to certain melancholic melodies over and over again? It’s a strange connect and sense of comfort, isn’t it? Sad music might actually evoke positive emotions, reveals a new study by Japanese researchers. The findings help to explain why people enjoy listening to sad music.

The Japanese researchers asked 44 volunteers, including both musicians and non-specialists, to listen to two pieces of sad music and one piece of happy music. Each participant was then required to use a set of keywords to rate both, their perception of the music and their own emotional state.


The sad pieces of music included pieces like Glinka’s “La Séparation” in F minor and Blumenfeld’s Etude “Sur Mer” in G minor. The happy music piece, on the other hand, was Granados’s Allegro de Concierto in G major. To control for the “happy” effect of major key, the researchers also played for the volunteers the minor-key pieces in major key, and vice versa.

The researchers explained that sad music tends to evoke contradictory emotions in people. Here, for instance, the participants of the study tended to feel that sad music was more tragic, less romantic, and less bitter than they felt themselves at the time they were listening to it. In general, sad music induces sadness in listeners, and sadness is regarded as an unpleasant, avoidable emotion. Interestingly, if sad music actually evokes only unpleasant emotions, we would not listen to it at all.

Actually, music that is generally categorized as sad evokes both sad and romantic responses from people. We tend to experience both these emotions while listening to sad music, without really realising so. Also, unlike sadness in our daily lives, sadness experienced through art actually feels pleasant, possibly because it does not pose an actual threat to our safety and normalcy. This could actually help people to deal with their negative emotions in daily life, the researchers have concluded.

Like a lot of other forms of art, sad music might truly help us to escape the sadness of our own lives. It helps us lose ourselves. It helps us experience emotions that don’t really have much to do with our lives and existences. It’s therefore, fun being detached and yet sad.

Photo Credit: 27147 via Compfight cc