In a study by the Tokyo University of the Arts and the RIKEN Brain Science Institute participants were asked to listen two pieces of sad music and one piece of happy music and then choose from 62 emotional words to describe their perception of the music and their emotional state having listened to it.
While the sad music did cause the participants to feel somewhat upset, it was more likely to conjure up romantic and inspired emotions. Participants used words like allured, wistful, nostalgic, and tender to describe their emotional state – and it is these emotions that can help us overcome any sad feelings.
Adding to their findings, one of the researchers described the sadness through art as more pleasant than emotion we experience in our daily lives. “Emotion experienced by music has no direct danger or harm unlike the emotion experienced in everyday life. Therefore, we can even enjoy unpleasant emotion such as sadness. If we suffer from unpleasant emotion evoked through daily life, sad music might be helpful to alleviate negative emotion.” All the more reason to revisit some of your old favorite melodies.
Somebody crank up ‘Eleanor Rigby’.