Do sad songs make you happy?

Do sad songs make you happy?

They actually help you battle the blues, a psychology study finds. So go ahead, tune in to slow sweetness

‘Channa mereya’ from ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ is considered a tearjerker by many.

A study has found that depressed people prefer listening to sad music.

They don’t do it to increase their misery; rather, sad songs help them feel more cheerful, according to a report in Emotion, a magazine published by the American Psychological Association.

Researchers at the University of South Florida asked 76 female undergrads (half of them diagnosed with depression) to listen to various classical music clips.

Like in a 2015 survey, participants indicated they would rather listen to the sadder pieces as they made them calmer and less agitated.

Why is sad music preferred? Many reasons. Psychologists say one reason is that the music resonates with what an individual is going through.

Bengalurean music composer Vishnu Ravindran Nair agrees.

“The kind of catharsis I get from making more intense, dark music generally leaves me with an emotionally balanced life the rest of the time. I feel liberated; as if the instruments care for what I’m going through,” he says.

Girish Chandran, MNC professional, says he listens to sad songs because they console him. “It’s like they acknowledge feelings that humans can’t understand,” he says.

How does one identify these songs? In the entire wide world, there are few things are subjective as musical tastes. So how does one identify what songs to listen to when one is sad?

“It changes from person to person. I feel people go back to some soothing numbers with which they have a personal connection. Nobody goes and types ‘sad songs’ on YouTube. They just pick songs that calm them down,” says Vivian Christopher Rajan, a drummer who runs the music school Sound and Silence in Ejipura.

 He remembers how on the occasions he was sad, he listened to heavy rock music.

“I identified with those songs then and they helped me calm down. Of late, I listen to jazz as it peps me up,” he says. For Vishnu, thematically, songs about wars, grief, regret, and anomy create ‘a sense of running out of time.’ “Somehow for me, that translates into an appreciation of the time we have,” he says.

Sweet and sad in literature

P B Shelley (1792-1822), the English Romantic poet, famously wrote about the appeal of sad songs: ‘We look before and after,/And pine for what is not:/Our sincerest laughter/With some pain is fraught;/Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought. More recently, Terry Pratchett wrote about the inspiring power of sad music in the novel ‘Soul Music’ (1994): “It was sad music. But it waved its sadness like a battle flag. It said the universe had done all it could, but you were still alive.”

Why so sad?

“Individuals tend to listen to songs with sad tunes as these go with their emotions. In that mood of pathos, they get solace,” says Meenakshi Ravi, a music therapist.

Greek wisdom and human psychology

“These findings resonate with the Greek theory of catharsis. It means the purification and purgation of emotions by giving them an outlet. So by listening to sad songs, you are indulging in a cathartic release of unhappiness. There is also the human tendency to relate sounds or tunes to experiences. Sometimes this becomes so natural that we start doing it unconsciously, which is why we can’t define why some songs or tunes make us melancholic. For example, All India Radio plays slow aalaaps and sarangi and shehnai sounds when a famous personality dies. While these passages can be perceived as meditative and contemplative, but by default they get associated with sorrow. Many listeners start thinking of death and grief when they listen to slow, contemplative music.”

S R Ramakrishna

Bollywood melancholy

Quite a lot of people google for sad songs. Here are some film songs Metrolife found listed as sad: 

‘Dooriyan’ from ‘Love Aaj Kal’ also fits the bill.

Tanhayee- Dil Chahta Hai

Tadap tadap Ke - Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam

Chingari koi bhadke - Amar Prem

Jee karda - Badlapur

Sach keh raha - Rehna hai tere dil mein

Mera jeevan kora kagaz - Kora Kagaz

Kya hua tera wada - Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin

Their go-to sad songs

“I loved listening to Tanhayee from Dil Chahta Hai. The lyrics connect to me personally and I have watched the movie multiple times, which is my the song is an all-time favourite.”

Rakesh Maiya, lead actor of Kannada serial ‘Magalu Janaki’

 “My recent favourite sad song is ‘Ide Dina’ from my film ‘Kavuladaari’. The music of the song soothes me and when the song ends, I always have a smile on my face. Another favourite is ‘Kaagadada Doniyalli’ from the film ‘Kirik Party’, which is a travel-based song.”

Roshni Prakash, Sandalwood actress

 “I have a list of sad songs that I go to, but a constant favourite is ‘Onde Samane’ from ‘Gaalipata’. The song has a background of a breakup and anyone could relate to such feelings. It’s a song that connects to everyone.” 
Rishabh Shetty, director-actor

“Sad songs are like lullabies, giving us an emotional massage. They have a slow, soothing effect and metaphorically tell us that life will be fine. My favourite song is Kanne Kalaimaane from the Tamil movie ‘Moondram Pirai’. 

Vikram Sridhar, performing artiste and storyteller

“I personally would want songs that cheer me up and motivate me when I am sad. Many a time, I have listened to our band’s ‘Lakshiya Padhai’ as well as Bob Marley songs like ‘Get up, Stand Up’. Or I opt for spiritual or psychedelic music which transports you to another world. Recently, I have taken to Irish folk songs which are quite refreshing.”

Swamy Seetharaman, member of carnatic progressive rock band Agam

“I don’t usually listen to sad songs but songs which are high in lyrical value and elevate the soul, those kind of shakes me up. When you are feeling low, these tracks make a difference. One example is the title track of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Another is Anisuthide Yako Indu from Mungaru Male.

Shruti, Radio Jockey, 92.7 BIG FM

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