Sad Music Helps Lift The Spirit: Melancholy Tunes Evoke Imagination

First Posted: Nov 04, 2014 05:12 PM EST

Research shows that Elton John may have been right; sad songs really do say a lot, and particularly when we're feeling unhappy but looking to lighten up.

A new study published in the journal PLOS ONE shows that when you're feeling under the weather, listening to sad music can actually help out.

"Music-evoked sadness...plays a role in well-being, by providing consolation as well as by regulating negative moods and emotions," the study noted. 

For the study, researchers at the Free University of Berlin surveyed 722 people from around the world. They found that, oftentimes, respondents felt that sad music helped to invoke a positive nostalgic feeling--helping them recall a sentimental longing for a forgotten time or place. Some even reported feeling emotions of wonder, peacefulness and tenderness while listening to certain melancholy tunes.

"For many individuals, listening to sad music can actually lead to beneficial emotional effects," added study authors Lila Taruffi and Stefan Koelsch of the university. "Music-evoked sadness can be appreciated not only as an aesthetic, abstract reward, but [it] also plays a role in well-being, by providing consolation as well as regulating negative moods and emotions."

More than happy music, researchers pointed out how sad music can help individuals emotionally deal with certain issues. For instance, sad music can actually help them work through problems because it's more likely to trigger the imagination and help individuals come up with creative ways to let go of what's bothering them.

Lastly, the study authors touched on the sad music theory. Could emotionally distraught individuals benefit from studying this type of information? Possibly. Findings revealed that people can partially use music to help regulate emotions.

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