Music and moods

Daniel Magalit

Music has been known to evoke emotion in people, but can it also alter one’s mood? Sacramento State students and staff may have the answer and an explanation.

“Yes, songs can definitely change moods, I like to listen to Nujabes (a Japanese hip-hop DJ and producer) to relax and Anthrax (an American thrash-metal band) to pump me up,” said Karisa Waters, a third year ethnic studies major.

It could be possible that one’s mood at any given time can determine the song choice instead.

“Depending on my mood I might have a song for it. The volume of my music reflects my mood as well. If I’m blasting it you can bet I’m having a really good day,” said Tyler Williams, a senior organizational communications major.

The thought of mood affecting music choice instead of the other way around, is an intriguing one, though it seems it can go either way.

Most songs are made up of two main components, lyrics and melody. It is possible that each plays a major role in the song’s ability to affect one’s mood but for some, one could be more effective than the other.

Williams said both the lyrics and the beat have the ability to affect his mood but often times the melody has a bigger impact.

Waters agrees the melody can be more powerful. She began to describe a memory that the song, “I Hope I think of Bike Riding When I’m Dying” by Neat Beats (trip-hop) caused her to recall.

“The title itself made me think of my childhood memories of bike riding, then the melody was just so beautiful, like the sweet moments of falling and getting back up again after taking the training wheels off,” Waters said.

If a song is powerful enough to bring back memories of good times, it might also help ease anxiety and depression.

“In counseling, calming music is sometimes used to help people focus their attention and slow their thoughts so that they can focus on the current moment. This technique can help to reduce anxiety in some situations,” said Katie Hodgson, a counseling service staff member at The Well.

It is unclear whether a specific genre or song type can help with things like sadness or anxiety, and in actuality it could just depend on the individual.

“Rhythmic music is sometimes used to facilitate meditation, which is a practice known for its ability to calm and bring clarity of thought to those who practice it,” Hodgson said.

Rhythm could also be a factor in determining a song’s effect on one’s mood, whether it be an up-tempo rap song or a slow, melodic R&B track. What matters is the individual and person’s reaction to the song.

“A song that always lifts me up when I’m feeling insecure is the classic ‘I Am Not My Hair’ by India Arie. Listening to her generally always lifts my spirits and reminds me that things are going to be quite alright,” Waters said.

Though music has the ability to also make one sad or angry, it is more of a mood booster. When the right song comes on at the right time, it can heavily affect the listener.

“I was skating by the river and ‘It Was A Good Day” by Ice Cube comes on shuffle. It was a Friday and I couldn’t complain. It made me feel mellowed out and happy,” Williams said.