Everyone has a favorite musician. Someone who makes music that one can relate to, and can sit and listen to for hours on end. An artist’s music and sound can reach a person and be almost therapeutic to listen to.
“I like to listen to music that’s corresponding to my mood,” said Riley Reuben, a junior at Calabasas High School. “It’s therapeutic and also it just helps me let my mood flow depending on whether on I’m feeling good or bad.”
In one study, researchers from the University of South Florida observed the effects of music on 76 female participants, half of whom had diagnosed depression. The researchers played “Infernal Gallap,” an upbeat classical song by Jacques Offenbach and “Adagio for Strings,” a somber classical song by Samuel Barber. Those with depression preferred “Adiago for Strings.”
The sad music made them “feel happier and relaxed,” according to USF researchers.
In 2007, two Melbourne teens committed suicide after posting for months about their love of the alternative rock band My Chemical Romance on Myspace, according to Vice. The media started a moral panic about “emo” and “rock music,” blaming the tragedy of the corruptive lyrics, Vice reported.
Perhaps the most notorious example of this was the Columbine school shooting in 1999. The music of Marilyn Manson was blamed for causing the anger and violence of the perpetrators, according to the Huffington Post. Rumors spread that the individuals that were responsible worshiped Manson, and even wore his merchandise while committing the crime.
“Of course, speculation snowballed into making me the ‘poster boy’ for everything that is bad in the world,” Manson said in an interview with Rolling Stone. “These two idiots weren’t wearing makeup, and they weren’t dressed like me or like goths. Since Middle America has not heard of the music they did listen to (KMFDM and Rammstein, among others), the media picked something they thought was similar.”
On the contrary, music has developed into a useful type of behavioral therapy. Psychologists have used music therapy to treat anxiety and depression.
According to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy has been known to help people express themselves better. It provides an outlet for an expression for a patient’s feelings and allows them to deal with any emotional distress.
Music can reach them in a way words fail to. Mental health group, Reach Out, even advocates for those struggling with psychological issues to listen to any music they enjoy. Those who often have trouble expressing themselves, such as patients with autism, show increased social skills after therapy, showing the immense impact of music upon people.
“Listening to sad music always heightens my sad mood because it makes me think about my life and it always makes me sleepy,” senior Maddie Parshall said. “When I listen to happy music, I am more motivated to get things done. For example, I’ll listen to Christmas music and it gets me excited for the holidays.”