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Sad Music Evokes Positive Emotions: Study

First Posted: Jul 13, 2013 09:10 AM EDT
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A latest Japanese study explains why people love listening to sad songs. According to the study,  sad music actually evokes positive emotions.

This study was conducted by Ai Kawakami and colleagues from Tokyo University of the Arts and the RIKEN Brain Science Institute.

The study was done on a group of 44 that included both musicians and non-specialists. The participants were asked to listen to two pieces of sad music and one piece of happy music. The participants had to rate their perception about the music as well their own emotional state using a set of different keywords.

The sad music the participants listened to was Glinka's "La Separation" in F minor and Blumenfeld's Etude "Sur Mer" in G minor. The happy music was a G major of Granados's Allegro de Concierto.

The researchers concluded that sad music evoked positive emotions. "In general, sad music induces sadness in listeners, and sadness is regarded as an unpleasant emotion. If sad music actually evokes only unpleasant emotion, we would not listen to it," the researchers wrote in the study. "Music that is perceived as sad actually induces romantic emotion as well as sad emotion. And people, regardless of their musical training, experience this ambivalent emotion to listen to the sad music."

They explain that sadness that is experienced through art generates a more pleasant feeling; may be because the latter does not have a threat to safety. This study could help people deal with negative emotions that crop up in daily life.

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology

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