New research: sad music cheers you up quicker

New research: sad music cheers you up quicker


norman lebrecht

February 26, 2014

More of what we already know, from the University of Kent:


The research investigated the effects of what the researchers described as Self-Identified Sad Music (SISM) on people’s moods, paying particular attention to their reasons for choosing a particular piece of music when they were experiencing sadness – and the effect it had on them.

The study identified a number of motives for sad people to select a particular piece of music they perceive as ‘sad’, but found that in some cases their goal in listening is not necessarily to enhance mood. In fact, choosing music identified as ‘beautiful’ was the only strategy that directly predicted mood enhancement, the researchers found.

Oh, gimme a break! Read the rest of it here.


Dr Annemieke Van den Tol

photo: Dr Annemieke Van den Tol


  • Pamela Brown says:

    It has become second-nature to me to listen to Mahler whenever I am dealing with difficult and complex emotions. That may sound trite, but it is in fact, quite the opposite. Along with its exquisite beauty, his music tells us that no matter how grisly or manic the reality may seem, it will at some point resolve itself into gentleness.

  • Robert Kenchington says:

    I think there may be something in this. If I am ‘down’ in any way or have had a bad day etc. I find so-called ‘light’, ‘jolly’ or ‘uplifting’ music quite irritating (Johann Strauss polkas and marches for example). If I want to get the demons out of my system I tend to go for sad or even aggressive music. I certainly find it works for me. Here, in no particular order, is my Top 10 SISM choice:

    1. Mozart’s Symphony No.40

    2. Brahms’ Piano Concerto No.1

    3. Elgar’s Symphony No.2

    4. Sibelius’s Fourth Symphony

    5. Shostakovich’s 11th Symphony

    6. Verdi’s Don Carlo

    7. Verdi’s Requiem

    8. Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night

    9. R.Strauss’ Four Last Songs

    10.Bach’s St John Passion

    After these, it’s easy to listen to just about anything – including Johann Strauss!

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