Why Does Music Affect Us?


Kylie Todd, staff

Have you ever been listening to your favorite playlist on shuffle, extremely happy and lively, then when a sad song comes on your mood immediately drops? You may just think that’s because since the song’s mood changed yours did too, but there’s actually science behind it!

There are two main effects of music on humans, and those are happiness and sadness. Upbeat and happy music leaves an outcome of our brain creating chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin is “A compound present in blood platelets and serum, which constricts the blood vessels and acts as a neurotransmitter”. It’s known as the body’s “natural feel good chemical”, which makes you happier, calmer, more focused, and more. Dopamine is “A compound present in the body as a neurotransmitter and a precursor of other substances including epinephrine”. It boosts learning, motivation, sleep, mood, and more. Music isn’t all sunshine and rainbows though, there’s plenty of sad music, and tons of negative emotions to go with it. Studies from the Center for Interdisciplinary Music Research in Finland shows that when you’re listening to slow/ saddening music, people tend to use three main ways to deal with their emotions – solace, diversion, and discharge. Solace is “when people who are sad listen to music to feel understood and less alone”, diversion is “when people listen to music to change, or distract themselves from their mood”, and discharge is “when people listen to music that matches their mood to facilitate some form of emotional release”.

I questioned two students at Diegueño Middle School, Bryanna Nguyen (8th) and Comet Palafox (7th), on how music affected them, and here are their responses. After asking them both what their emotions were when listening to upbeat and happy music, Bryanna replied saying “Well, whenever happy music plays I turn happy too.” Cliff said “Yeah, my mood also boosts when I listen to happier music.” I then asked them to describe their moods while listening to slow, saddening music and their answers were the exact opposite than their other responses. They both agreed that saddening music makes them sad and upset.

After reading this article, I want you to pay more attention to your mood when listening to different genres of music, and remember why this happens.