In my opinion music has got to be one of the greatest tings on the planet. I have found that by listening to various kinds of music, it can alter your mood greatly. There are so many different types of music out there, so which type does what? In a moment I will tackle this question.
After doing a bit of research I have found that music, if chosen correctly, can dramatically increase your pleasure states in your brain. Meaning, music can raise your serotonin, boost your norepinephrine, and dopamine. Also, studies have proven that music can dynamically show physiological indicators of emotional arousal. These physiological indicators include: changes in heart rate, respiration, electrodermal activity, body temperature, and blood volume pulse. This means that we can use individual pieces of great music to change our brain chemistries and physiological states in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. So, basically, music is a great medicine for both the mind and the soul.
Music can be used for numerous reasons. In it’s most simple form music is used to entertain. It is played at parties, weddings, sporting events, at home, or while driving. My favorite thing to do is to make a playlist on my IPod and hit shuffle, it can sure make a boring drive go by a lot quicker. I am that person you see singing at the top of her lungs while driving from here to there. I tend to get many a “double take” from complete strangers while sitting in traffic.
So many of us use music to help pass the time or make a monotonous task fly by. I know that I use music to help make cleaning the house a lot less tedious and exhausting. It would be quite boring without music to help entertain and allow the time to at least appear to pass quickly.
The second reason why people use music is for revival. Music can set the tone for your day or night. In order to get your day going, listen to something upbeat when you first wake up. It can put you in a better mood by listening to fun, happy music. Because music affects your mood, if you were to listen to slow songs in the mornings you might find it harder to wake up and get motivated to start the day. At night, when you are winding down or have had a stressful day at work or school, listen to music that will calm you. Slower beats, acoustic, or classical music can have a calming effect on the mind.
Another way people use music to their advantage is to receive a strong sensation. It can produce deep, thrilling experiences, particularly while performing or exercising. Researchers found a positive correlation between faced paced music and exercise. It’s not too surprising that music works to increase exercising strength by distracting attention and pushing the heart and muscles to work at a faster pace. Not much is known about how or why it works, but it is thought to ease exercise. The best music to listen to is between 120-140 beats per minute, which also happens to be the standard tempo for upbeat dance music.
The next way music can be used to our advantage is by creating a diversion. Music distracts the mind from unpleasant thoughts which can easily fill the silence and decrease our anxiety. This can help us from choking under pressure. In a study of basketball player’s who were prone to failing at the free throw line, research found they could improve the player’s percentage if they were to first listen to a catchy tune and hum it in their heads. Listening to the Monty Python song, “Always look on the bright side of life,” caused the players to lose focus and execute their free throws with minimal involvement form the prefrontal cortex. If you are prone to getting anxious, worried, or choking under pressure, throwing on a humorous, light-hearted song before you perform might help distract your brain enough to keep you from failing. Distraction is considered one of the most effective strategies for regulating mood.
Using music to allow your body to discharge is another way to utilize it to your advantage. Music matching deep moods can release emotions having a purging and cleansing effect therefore boosting your immune system. Soothing music is known to decrease stress, and when it does that, it decreases the level of the stress hormone cortisol. It’s not just soothing music though, even upbeat dance music is known to increase the level of antibodies in your system.
The sixth reason why people listen to music is to help them with mental work. Music encourages daydreaming, sliding into old memories, and exploring the past. You may remember some reports back in the 1990’s that said studying while listening to Mozart increases the likelihood of performing well on a test, but that has been disproven in some studies, and in turn studies have shown some music has a negative affect on fact retention if you’re studying numbers or lists. Still, performing music has been proven to increase memory and language skills, but for listeners, it’s better used as a means to recall memories. It has been shown in Alzheimer’s patients to help with memory recall, and even helps restore cognitive function. When you listen to music you know, it stimulates the hippocampus, which handles long-term storage in the brain. Doing this can help bring out relevant memories you made while listening to a particular song. If you’re having trouble remembering something, you may have better luck if you play the same music you were listening to when you first made the thought.
Lastly, music has been shown to help fight fatigue, especially if you change up the music often. Studies have shown that almost all music increases your mood, because it causes a release of dopamine. So if you are feeling tired, bored, or depressed, a good pop song might just be the cure you need.
The following are various types of music and the effect they may have on your emotional state:
Folk music- virtually all folk music is serotonin boosting.
Jazz and Rhythm and Blues- Rhythm and blues can be pretty depressing, especially if you are already depressed. Don’t get me wrong- this genre offers a lot of great music, but most of the lyrics focus on life’s travails. Many people find this music highly cathartic and emotionally healing, but others can be brought even lower by the deep suffering that the music often expresses. Therefore, I recommend exercising caution in this category, at least until you feel ready to deal with your own deep emotional pain. Jazz on the other hand, can be incredibly uplifting and joyful. It can be melodic and soothing (thus a serotonin booster) or exciting and arousing (a norepinephrine booster). Choose the pieces you especially enjoy for their desired effects.
Rock and Roll: Most rock and roll is norepinephrine and dopamine boosting. However, rock is often hard to classify. Even hard rock bands produce serotonin-boosting songs from time to time, such as Guns and Roses’ “November Rain.” Also, many of the Beatles songs are serotonin boosters. Most modern rock and roll is arousing and consequently will boost norepinephrine and dopamine. There are endless choices to suit your tastes. Bruce Springstein’s album “Born to Run” is a classic norepinephrine and dopamine booster
Musical Theatre: The music of musical theatre is generally upbeat and inspiring. Many of the stories have a happy ending and this boosts serotonin, too. Of course, there are exceptions, such as Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Miss Saigon” – musicals that offer perhaps more catharsis than uplift. The following list includes the names of some classic serotonin-boosting musicals.
- Cole Porter: “Anything Goes” and others
- Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rogers: “ Oklahoma ”, “The Sound of Music”, “Carousel”, “South Pacific”, and many others
- Frank Loesser: “Guys and Dolls” and others
- Andrew Lloyd Webber: “Cats”, “Phantom of the Opera”, and others
- Stephen Sondheim: “A Little Night Music” and many other
- Marvin Hamlish: “A chorus Line”
- Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe: “My Fair Lady”
Classical Composers: Most classical music will boost norepinephrine and dopamine, the following are examples of these.
- Beethoven: most of the music from the Fifth and Ninth Symphonies is arousing and will boost dopamine and norepinephrine
- Kabalevsky: “Gallop” from Opus 39, no. 18
- Mozart: Overture from “The Marriage of Figaro”; Menuetto from “A Little Night Music”; Serenade no. 13
- Tchaikovsky: most of “The Nutcracker” is arousing, as is much of Tchaikovsky’s music
I have also done a post on my site about if music can get you high. Feel free to check it out.
If you have some favorite music that puts you in a great mood please comment below and let us know what songs you find especially uplifting.