Sweet (and not so sweet) Music

Generally speaking, I am a classical music, choral sorta guy. Bach, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Mahler, etc. You can even throw in a little opera for variety.

But I have a secret love for hard rock and 80s music (not always the same).


AC/DC, Dire Straits, the Cars, the Bangles, Led Zeppelin, my tastes vary quite widely. I’m not huge into jazz or blues, but I’ll even go for Johnny Cash and some other country music at times.

So lately I have been listening a lot more to the darker side of my music interests (and I’m not talking about Wagner). Some of these various types of music are light and happy, but others are dark, even violent in their basic tone. Sometimes with rock music the text is secondary to the actual music (not always, I know).

So I’ve been reflecting on what has been attracting me to this kind of music. I think it’s related to my previous post, Addicted. I said in that post that the reason people suffering from depression often become addicted to various thing is because of the need to feel anything. Even if they are negative emotions, violent or angry. That feeling is better than nothing at all. At least it can often seem that way.

So this is where music comes in. I love modern music, at least certain aspects of it. (I’ll leave a discussion about the “morality” of secular music to some other blog.) So what effect does different styles of muisc have on the depressed/anxious person?

Well, it turns out that there is a whole realm of musicology that addresses this question. It’s called sentics. I’ve found very little about it online, but basically it is the study of the relationship between music and emotions. While I don’t want to oversimply, the basic point of sentics is that certain types of music are going to effect your emotions differently than others. Now your answer to this may well but DUUUHHHHH. You’re probably right.

Now while this is probably obvious, I do believe it is often overlooked. If you are listening to music that is intended to get you agitated, excited, highly stimulated, or, uh, aroused, then this kind of music may not be helpful for you. This is especially true if you suffer from anxiety, and it may have a different effect on you if you suffer from depression.

I really don’t mean this as a criticism of any particular genre of music. But one thing that depression has taught me is to be “mindful of my surroundings” (to quote the movie. Name that movie!) Noise, lights, sound, all of these things affect me in ways in which I was not aware. Music, television, crowds, they are can either drain me or energize me, depending on the day and the context.

So, dear friends, be mindful of your surroundings. No matter how much you love AC/DC, it may not be good for your frame of mind. It probably wouldn’t kill you to listen to the Brandenburg Concertos occasionally anyways….

Be at peace, friends,
-DMR

6 thoughts on “Sweet (and not so sweet) Music”

  1. I have come to similar conclusions about listening to certain songs when I am depressed (although nothing I like in the 80’s genre fits in here for me.) Sometimes a certain song seems to express unhappiness, or a longing for what is lost, that I feel; sometimes I end up “wallowing” in the enjoyment of feeling depressed.

    On that note, what do you think of this video? I think it’s a very well-done song on a tough subject.

  2. I have come to similar conclusions about listening to certain songs when I am depressed (although nothing I like in the 80’s genre fits in here for me.) Sometimes a certain song seems to express unhappiness, or a longing for what is lost, that I feel; sometimes I end up “wallowing” in the enjoyment of feeling depressed.

    On that note, what do you think of this video? I think it’s a very well-done song on a tough subject.

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