Is Slow Music Bringing Your Mood Down?

By Ruby Sahota

Music has always been a big part of my life and no doubt it’s been important to many of you as well. My music taste has changed a lot over time, and for the past few years I’ve been listening to soul music, R&B and genres that sound very sensual and slow, with emotional lyrics.

I found myself moping around for the past two weeks and I thought it was just because life was being a bit crappy, but my sister oh-so-lovingly pointed out it’s also what I’m surrounding myself with - and that was the music I was listening to. My music choice was making me mope around!

In an article for Frontiers in Cognition, researchers found that there is a “uses-and-gratifications” approach for understanding “the ways in which people use music in their everyday lives today.” As listeners, we actively use and select our music based on our emotions and needs. The potential uses of music are as follows: entertainment, identity formation, sensation seeking, or culture identification.

What really caught my attention in this article was music being a sort of coping mechanism, where “music can help assuage human anxiety concerning mortality.” My mind immediately went back in time to all the times I did feel some sort of existential crisis and what kind of music I listened to. Every time, I had been heavily listening to Daniel Caesar, dvsn, and The Weeknd, followed with other artists with one or two songs I enjoyed. These songs were slow in nature and their lyrics seemed to reflect my current situation in life, so instead of being in the present, I used music to replicate the same emotions but at a different time. Despite their somewhat sad and emotional characteristics, they still triggered feelings of comfort.

In “On the Value of Popular Music,” Simon Frith, a socio musicologist said, “We all hear the music we like as something special, as something that defies the mundane, takes us ‘out of ourselves,’ puts us somewhere else,” therefore creating a means of escape.

How Does Music Affect You?” highlights how music has an impact on your physical bodies. Our hearts actually sync with the rhythm we are listening to.

“A slow heartbeat with a strong diastolic pressure tells our brain that something sad or depressing is occurring," the article states. "Very fast beating has to do with excitement, while a dreamy rhythm with occasional upbeats can be a sign of love or joy.”

The article also mentions how tones have an impact on us as well. The major and minor keys also communicate with our brains, either signalling respectively either cheerfulness or sadness. Listening to happy or joyful music produces serotonin and dopamine, otherwise known as the feel good chemicals. Relaxing and soothing, or loud and angry, all create a different chemical response in our brains.

We also tend to choose music according to the mood we are already in. The “Effects of Music Inquiry” says "if you feel like you are falling into picking certain music that makes a negative mood worse, you should be aware of what type of music can help reverse the negative mood you feel instead of encouraging it.”

In fact, they also claim, “Classical and meditative sounds seem to be uplifting, while heavy metal and techno can actually make depressive symptoms worse.”

Be sure to analyze what you put into your bodies, and in this case I don’t mean food. Music plays an extremely important role in our lives. In most cases, it is more than something that we use only to pass time. It’s an experience. It induces chills and it leaves you an with an array of different feelings. Continue to have your blissful moment with your favourite songs, and feel good as a result of what you’re listening to!