Why does some music make me feel sad or give me a sense of low level dread?

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I have started listening to some of those ASMR music videos to help with concentration, to help with anxiety, or to help me relax to go to sleep. Once in a while, the music just hits me wrong, and I have to find something else to listen to or turn it off. I’m trying to figure out what works best for me. I like a lot of different kinds of music, especially piano and flute.

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4 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Probably from the frequency of the song and sometimes depends if it’s associated with a memory from the past.
I found that mostly all rock songs from the 80s and 90s lift my mood up.

Anonymous 0 Comments

One of may reasons can be attributed to the body being quite sensitive, but often consciously unaware of lower frequencies in the audio/mechanical spectrum. (below 20Hz, or 20 cycles per second). Low levels of these sounds or vibrations have been proven to have direct triggering factors, and when your brain associates these with past experiences you get the bad (or good) underlying feeling you cant quite put your finger on. In nature the best example of this is low frequencies associated with earthquakes or large oncoming climactic events – animals en-mass detect these and their then immediate behavior (which we can see) reflects this. It is quite spooky to suddenly hear the jungle go quiet, or a flock of noisy birds all shut up at once. I hope this helps a little – it is one possible answer of many good ones I suspect.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Thanks. These all make a lot of sense. Looking back, I guess I’ve been aware of this for a while because I tend to turn sound effects and music off when I’m gaming. I don’t like to hear rapid ticking, thumping, heart pulsing percussive sounds. Regardless of how fast (or slow). Instead of energizing me, it annoys me. I frequently turn down or mute volume when watching movies and shows. I view the captions instead of listening. Definitely a psychological and/or physiological response. So it isn’t just in my head, well it likely is in my head, but it’s in everyone else’s, too. 🙂 Cheers, all.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s for the same reason that you’d feel sad if your friend told you “my dog just died.” Namely, a shared *language that conveys emotional meaning.*

This is believed to be learned, cultural trait like spoken language. Meaning that we learn to associate certain chord progressions, tempos, and combinations of instruments to represent grief or sadness. For example, usually violins & orchestra and/or piano, slow tempo baseline, and minor key chord progressions ( the last part in reference to western European music traditions)

It’s known that these associations are not universal and people from other cultures with substantially different musical traditions won’t feel the same way about a given music style.

While most people aren’t consciously aware of this particular kind of representationsl language, most composers are very aware of it.

In the same way in the US we often associate a british *Brass Band March* with public celebrations, parades, and political campaigns.

In another example, Trumpets or combined brass are often used in western movies to represent the exploits of the main character.