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Why We Like Sad Songs So Much

Original article in the New York Times, summarized by Clayton Durant, on LinkedIn, June 1st, 2023.

Elton John used to sing, in his 1984 hit, Sad Songs (Say So Much) the reason why we relate so much to those sad songs:

If someone else is sufferin' enough, oh, to write it down

When every single word makes sense

Then it's easier to have those songs around

The kick inside is in the line that finally gets to you

And it feels so good to hurt so bad

And suffer just enough to sing the blues

Unraveling our emotional response to sad music, Dr. Joshua Knobe, an experimental philosopher and psychologist at Yale University, has released a study that delves into why so many people connect with sad songs. Published in the Journal of Aesthetic Education, study had a few interesting insights including the fact that....

🎵 Music Consumers Feel Multidimensional Emotional Responses To Sad Music: Our reactions to sad songs are not single-layered, but instead fall into categories of grief, melancholia, and sweet sorrow, indicating the multi-dimensional aspect of emotions evoked by sad music.

🎵 Music Consumers Care More About Emotion Than Musical Technique: Participants in the study reported that emotionally deep yet technically flawed songs resonated most with the essence of music. This suggests that emotional expression holds a greater value than technical proficiency in the realm of music appreciation.

🎵 Music Consumers Feel Connected Over Sadness: The researchers found that our enjoyment of sad music may not be derived from its sadness, but rather from the sense of connection it provides. This perspective offers a fresh lens for understanding our affinity for melancholic music.

Clayton Durant is Founder and Managing Partner at CAD Management and Director of Emerging Media & Platform Strategy at MikeWorldWide


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