Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Melancholy music doesn’t have to feed a sadness

Pay attention to the music you turn to
Toshiyuki IMAI/All Creative Commons/Flickr

You stare out of the window, trying your very best to ignore all of the thoughts clouding your mind – the ones that have been there all week, all month and definitely present since the moment you awoke in the morning. You put on music; it plays in your ears and offers a temporary distraction from the ongoing stress. Is that music hyperactive? Is it a song you want to dance to, drive to or stroll along a sidewalk with the sun shining to? Or does that music remind you of all the weight you carry on your shoulders?

We all listen to a variety of music, but during our most trying times it’s important to recognize the music that we turn to. For myself, and others I assume, there are playlists I have refused to play because of the effect they have on my mood. In other words, it’s the music that has served as a reminder of the melancholic emotions I often handle with sensitivity; for I try to avoid worsening an already negative state of mind with sounds that only add to the chaos of my thoughts.

However, in conversations, as well as through social media, I have found that some people credit songs that reiterate their emotional states as “life-saving.”

For a long time now, I have contemplated how lyrics that describe what one is undergoing could help them in any way – how it could serve as more than a reminder of the place that one is in. I have been listening to specific songs and playlists with a careful ear, and ultimately, I have come to the realization that these kinds of songs truly can assist a person in self-improvement.

It’s surprising how long it has taken me to comprehend how music deemed “sad” or “dark” can influence a person to feel the opposite of those two emotions, especially as someone who has such music playing through their Spotify account at most, to all free periods of their days. I want to credit the delay to my understanding as a personal growth.

Songs that are full of lyrics describing melancholic subjects, such as anxiety, depression, loss, confusion and so many others can actually allow a listener to feel understood. Though hearing such lyrics does not remove the emotions already embedded within their minds, it can alter one’s mindset from “I am alone” to “Other people experience what I go through, too!” This thought, for some, is life-changing. The idea and realization of simply being understood has the ability to remove someone from their most hazardous state and allow for them to take a step back in those kinds of thoughts.

There are several hypotheses as to why listening to music categorized as “sad” can truly help a person, and I believe one of the more profound findings is that when our most challenging inner-battles are lyrically described and expressed with tones and sounds that resonate with us, we find comfort in the acceptable similarities. According to Psychology Today, these kinds of songs can “act as a tuning fork for our own situations.”

In addition, it is important to remember that music releases dopamine into our bodies, the same as other acts that generate pleasure. Therefore, depending on an individual’s level of favoring a darker song they are listening to, their bodies may release the neurotransmitter at specific peaks of the song and during their prime enjoyment of it. This, ultimately, will make one feel better, chemically, both regardless of, and/or, in addition to the density of the lyrics being sung into their ears.

Today, as all of us undergo a social-distancing lifestyle, foreign for many, we may often console ourselves with the company of music. After coming to the realization of how music full of somber lyrics can influence one in a more positive direction, I know I will be offering my playlists more time with a lot less pressure. I think it is important to pay attention to the music one plays, what they spend the most time with and what they only allow themselves to hear and indulge in every once in a while; for, music serves us in some of the most personal ways. As you listen to your favorite music, take in what is being sung and recognize what thoughts are inspired from hearing such. If a darker song comes on and you are not feeling confident enough to hear it without being even more overwhelmed, make your choice whether to skip it or to leave it on. However, remember: “sad” music can save you, too.

Makailey Cookis is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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    Steve O NeilApr 4, 2020 at 12:12 am

    As we are getting used to from you. Well written and interesting. Keep articles like this coming!