Why do we listen to sad songs?


In the second part of the experiment, involving 450 new subjects, the researchers gave each participant 72 emotional song descriptions, which expressed feelings including “contempt,” “narcissism,” “inspiration,” and “lust.” For comparison, they also gave the participants stimuli that described a conversational interaction in which someone expressed their feelings. (Example: β€œAn acquaintance talks to you about his week and expresses feelings of sadness.”) In general, the feelings that people felt deeply ingrained in What the Music Is About were also those that made people feel most connected to each other in Conversation: love, joy, loneliness, sadness, euphoria, calm, sadness.

Mario Atti Becker, a Loyola University Chicago philosopher who helped lead the research, found the findings compelling. After reflecting on the data, he proposed a relatively simple idea: perhaps we listen to music not for an emotional reaction β€” many people reported that sad, albeit artistic, music was not particularly pleasant β€” but for a sense of connection to others. Applied to the sad music paradox: Our love of music is not a direct appreciation of grief, it is an appreciation of communication. Dr. Knopp and Dr. Venkatesan quickly climbed up.

“I’m already a believer,” Dr. Irola said when he was alerted to the study. In his research, he found that people who are particularly empathetic are It is likely to be transferred By unfamiliar sad music. “They’re ready to get caught up in the kind of imaginative sadness that music brings them,” he said. These people also offer more Major hormonal changes In response to sad music.

But sad music is layered – it’s an onion – and this explanation raises more questions. Who do we communicate with? the artist? ourselves in the past? imaginary person? And how can sad music be “all about” anything? Does art’s power not derive in part from its ability to transcend the abstract and extend the experience?

One by one, the researchers acknowledged the complexity of their topic, and the limitations of the current work. Then Dr. Attie-Picker made a less philosophical argument for their findings: “It just feels right,” he said.

Sound produced Adrian Hirst.


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