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Music and Emotions

Research into music and emotions seeks to answer the deep emotional connection between music and emotions. Music conveys meaning across many cultural and ethnic boundaries, and emotions in music seem to have a universal impact on human beings. How can music and emotions affect our feelings and behavior? Can we harness music and emotions to help us achieve particular goals? What can music do for us?

It has been more than ten years since researchers began studying music and its effects on emotions. During this time, much research has been done and an impressive body of empirical information has accumulated. It seems that music can affect many parts of the brain including the emotion centers. Researchers have found that music therapy can help patients suffering from depression and anxiety. The results were quite profound: depression dropped by seven points on the initial interview, and by eleven points on the follow up. This was an amazing achievement, but is this enough to say that music can actually change the way we feel?

Music and emotions go hand in hand. When we are sad, we cry; when we are happy, we rejoice. Even when we are not feeling particularly uplifted or sad, we are constantly moved by the happiness of other people, music included. Music can even move us past our own negative emotions to embrace the positive ones!

Studies have shown that music can increase one’s lifespan by inducing emotional bonding and enhancing the link between mind and body (known as the circuit between music and emotions). This makes sense, because music has the ability to evoke a state of emotional intimacy. Those who are most open to and sensitive to music are very intelligent and creative people, and have the highest IQ’s among any group of people. Music also triggers the part of the brain that creates happiness and brings joy and positive emotions into everyday life.

According to Amy Waterman, M.A., R.P. ‘Emotional intelligence is tapping into a resource that allows you to tap into your personal power and use that energy to help yourself overcome setbacks or make progress toward your goals’. Waterman believes that emotional intelligence is the key to unlock the power of music and make it accessible to everyone.

The Emotion Factor refers to an amazing study that took place at the University of Minnesota. It is called “The Effect of Musical Enthusiasm on listeners: An Emotional Intelligence Study.” The researchers found that, “audience response was highly correlated with emotional intelligence”, especially when the listeners were working alone. This means that music may affect the way listeners respond to a situation, even without the conscious knowledge that they are feeling emotions. This suggests that music may be able to help us better manage our emotions so that we can successfully navigate through everyday life.

In addition to Waterman and her coworkers, there are many other researchers who have delved into this exciting field of music and emotion research. Among those who have contributed to this special issue include Dr. Jack Scott, Dr. Edward F. Krystal, Dr. John Norcross, Dr. Ronald Klatz and Dr. Michael J. Lavoich. Each of these contributors has written a couple of articles that are included in this special issue. All of them offer valuable insights and suggestions about how music and emotions can be used in our daily lives.

Music and Emotions bylined “Music and Emotions” is a comprehensive textbook that covers this important topic in depth. chapters include: Introduction to Music and Emotions, A Review of the Literature, The Role of Music and Emotions, Music and Self-Report, The Developing Self-Repression Skills, Emotion Management, Applied Behavior Analysis, Applied Social Psychology, Interventions for Children, Manifold Methods, Meta-analysis, and Review of Research on Emotion and Music Education. There is also a resource box at the end of each chapter that provides a number of suggested resources and a personal statement by the author. This book has attracted both scholars and professionals in the music and arts industry. The editors and reviewers hope that readers will find this text very helpful in their own study of music and emotions.