The Sound Of Silence: How Music Affects Our Emotions Even Without Sound

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The Sound Of Silence: How Music Affects Our Emotions Even Without Sound

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We all have our favourite songs, bundled up into one playlist that we rely on whenever we need a hearty boost. We sing every lyric to the letter, and hit every note to perfection – and in that moment, we are happy. In fact, studies have shown that singing is a natural antidepressant that releases endorphins and makes us happier. Don’t believe me? Check out these elephants singing along to classical music and tell me that they don’t look happy!

But what about music in general? Do we have emotional responses to the sound of music?

A study conducted by Flinders University music researcher, Dr Marco Susino, has concluded that, yes, we do indeed have emotional responses to music — but not in the way you’d expect. In this study, Dr Susino concluded that people don’t even need to hear the music to feel the effects of it. By simply revealing the genre of music, people begin to make different assumptions accordingly.

“We call upon a whole lifetime of learning, feelings, associations and even stereotypes as we emotionally respond to music.”

– Dr Susino

For example, lyrics labelled as heavy metal will elicit different emotions to that of Japanese Gagaku, even without hearing the song at all.

music, emotions
Music concert

“We explain these results as emotion expectations induced by extra-musical cues,” says Dr Susino. “This means that our emotional responses are partly based on pre-conceived ideas of what we expect the music will make us feel, regardless of what the music is actually expressing.”

This goes to show that music is far more than just lyrics and sound, but also culture and history. “We call upon a whole lifetime of learning, feelings, associations and even stereotypes as we emotionally respond to music,” says Dr Susino.

Dr Marco Susino, Music
Dr Marco Susino via Flinders University

These findings open up new avenues into the connection between music and emotions. Initially, it was believed that musical emotions were purely triggered as a result of the music itself, but what is evident now is that there are many factors that go into it. This makes sense when we think of why we like certain songs, while others do not. We tend to relate to certain lyrics and we tie certain songs to memories and places, which is why we rate them so highly.

Evidently, there’s more than meets the eye — or should that be ear? — when it comes to music. It’s more than just notes and keys and rhythms; it is history, culture and experiences all tied into one.

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2 thoughts on “The Sound Of Silence: How Music Affects Our Emotions Even Without Sound”

  1. Thank you, Happy Ali, for this beautiful feature. Music is a universal soundless language transcending all barriers of caste, creed, customs, cultures, etc. It lives in our subconscious and can be instrumental in generating remembered emotions, offering healing comfort and calm!
    “Music when soft voices die
    Vibrates in our memory.” — Shelley

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2 thoughts on “The Sound Of Silence: How Music Affects Our Emotions Even Without Sound”

  1. Thank you, Happy Ali, for this beautiful feature. Music is a universal soundless language transcending all barriers of caste, creed, customs, cultures, etc. It lives in our subconscious and can be instrumental in generating remembered emotions, offering healing comfort and calm!
    “Music when soft voices die
    Vibrates in our memory.” — Shelley

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