Hey, I’m Victor Bailey and I hail from Philadelphia. I’m considered to be quite a good musician by my fellow artists. I play bass guitar and have my own home studio. I also consider myself an expert when it comes to promoting your music and licensing your music for profits.While I know lots about recording songs and selecting the right equipment, I thought I’d spend some time thinking about how different genres of music affect our moods.

Research has shown that listening to specific music genres influences our moods significantly. Noise and music also affect our emotions. The reason why some songs seem to go around and round in our heads for days after we’ve heard them is because we feel good when we listen to them and want to hang onto that feeling. This is due to brain dopamine regulation. 

What is brain dopamine regulation? It’s a neurotransmitter in the brain. It plays a vital part in our emotional functioning. It also accounts for our mood swings.

Research has also shown that there is a difference in the dopamine receptors in every brain, which also explains why I like one genre of music and you like another type. Studies show that the dopamine D2 receptor (also known as DRD2) differentiates between music and simple noise and the role they both play in affecting our moods.

So, why do we listen to music?

Scientists have come up with three reasons why we listen to music.

  • Music regulates our moods and our stress levels
  • We achieve self-awareness when we listen to music
  • Music is a way to express social interaction

Music can be used in two different ways, namely in the foreground and in the background. Foreground music is often used as motivation or to stimulate focus on a particular object or event, while background music is mostly used to set the mood and ease stress.

You’ll have noticed yourself the difference between music which is played at games like football – all meant to get the crowd excited and involved, while relaxing music is likely to be played in restaurants where people are enjoying a meal in a relaxed atmosphere.

An interesting point I want to share is that even if you don’t understand the language of the song, you will still be able to differentiate between a happy and sad song, simply by the music. Fast and jaunty songs indicate happiness while slower songs indicate sadness.

Even across different cultures it is the style and tempo of the music that has a desired effect on the mood of the listeners.

Here’s an example. Listen to the fifth movement in Beethoven’s masterpiece, String Quartet in C-sharp major, Op. 131 and tell me that you wanted to get up and dance – no you didn’t. What you possibly felt was tension and suspense because you didn’t know how the piece was going to end. It’s not a lively, joyful piece unlike the Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss II.

girl in the sun

1. Music triggers changes

It has been shown that listening to music triggers physical changes. These changes are an indicator of our emotional states.

If you pay attention to your body when you listen to music, you will notice:

  • Pupils become dilated
  • Blood pressure may rise
  • Pulse will beat faster

An interesting change is a lowered electrical conductance. Your skin may start to feel chilly when you listen to certain type of music.

Another interesting point is that the area of the brain which we use to listen to music is the same area as the one which makes people want to move. This is the reason why we bob our heads or start to tap our feet when we hear a happy song.

Music has also been known to have an ‘anticipatory effect’, so when we hear a song and know how it ends, we get excited. We also react when we don’t know how the song ends.

From the beginning of time music has been a part of life. Consider right back to ancient days when Psalms were used to uplift the people. They were also used to communicate victories and defeats.

Even today on the television we can see the influence of music. It plays a huge role in advertising – we all know certain jingles we would prefer to forget but which remind us of a product being advertised.

2. Music and therapy

Never a truer word than ‘music calming the troubled soul’. It has been shown that playing music to patients who have Dementia and similar diseases are more likely to be calmed by soothing music than by trying to reason with them. Aggression is diminished and they become calmer and less agitated.

Calming music is also often played in doctor and dentist offices. Who enjoys the dentist? Not me, but I feel at least a bit calmer when listening to soothing music.

Music is also used in the treatment of people with traumatic brain injuries. It is well-known to relax and even improve the moods of people who suffer from this.

3. Music for moods

Everyone knows that marriage offers are more likely to be accepted when there is a romantic setting! Dimmed lighting, candles and mood music simply set the tone for romance.

On the other hand, music to get the party started is far livelier and louder.

4. What suits one person..

What I enjoy and what type of music makes me feel good does not necessarily suit others. Music choice is completely personal. What calms one person may leave another feeling depressed. What excites one may irritate another. What can stimulate one listener may be off-putting to another.

What has been shown to be true is that when people are asked to choose music to improve their mood most of the have selected upbeat tunes, because they can get us to bob our heads, tap our feet and even get up and dance.

According to research and studies from the University of Groningen, music will not only affect your mood, it will also change the way we perceive the world. That’s a very strong statement. It means that moods and music are ore closely related than we think.

To sum up

So, while each person reacts in a different way to music, what is certain is that it plays a significant part in all our lives. What works for one person may not suit another, but music, in all it’s forms, is here to stay.

A good way to listen to music with style is to get a pair of one of the best budget audiophile headphones which I reviewed. Another post worth checking out: best laptops for music production.