What Music Affects Your Mood?


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An endless amount of research has been conducted on the effect music has on mood.

And while there’s still some debate as to exactly what goes on when tears start streaming down our faces at the first note of Enya’s “Only Time,” most researchers agree on a few things, mainly that we can use music to:

1.  Change emotions

2. Release emotions 

3. Match our current emotions 

4. Enjoy or comfort ourselves 

5. Relieve stress

This helps explain the variety of playlists currently stored on my iPod.

For example, there’s the playlist to motivate me to “Get Up and Run” for my morning exercise, “Relaxing Songs” for moments when I’m feeling a wee bit stressed, and “Classical Brain Busters” for when I’m writing and want to feel studious.

The number of ways to classify songs under a catchy playlist title is endless for an organizational nut like myself.

But if you’ve ever set out to create a playlist for a specific life situation, like when you’re in love or going through a divorce, you know that things can get way more complicated than finding a song that matches the beat of your feet hitting the pavement on your morning run.

For example, if you’re putting together a playlist for your break-up, what kind of mood do you want to create? Do you want mostly angry songs? Sad songs? Songs that make you feel like you can conquer the world?

This is the dilemma I found myself in as I set out to create a playlist for my trip to Brazil.

Did I want the music to be relaxing? Thought provoking? Inspiring?

At first, I thought I should play it safe and stick with inspiring songs, like “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay. After all, I didn’t want to include songs that might trigger the emotions I was so desperately trying to overcome (….fear!).

But after asking for your feedback in an email and on Facebook, I realized that when it comes to music there are way more categories and genres of songs, and way more emotions that can be evoked and moods that can be created, than I could have ever imagined!

So I decided to include a variety of songs, all of which had different effects on my mood. I’ve never heard of many of the suggestions I received, which is awesome!

After many hours of listening to all of the amazing songs sent my way, here it is: My “Brazilian Travels” playlist:

1. “Paradise” – Coldplay

2. “Challa” – A.R. Rahman

3. “Lost” – Coldplay + Jay-Z

4. “I Gotta Feeling” – Black Eyed Peas

5. “Dog Days Are Over” – Florence + The Machine

6. “Not Afraid” – Eminem

7. “Bitter Sweet Symphony” – The Verve

8. “Home” – Phillip Phillips

9. “I Will Wait” – Mumford & Sons

10. “Ai Se Eu Te Pego” – Michel Telo

11. “Somewhere in the Middle” Opaline by Dishwalla 

12. “They” – Jem

13. “Us” – Regina Spektor

14. “Airplanes” – B.o.B. Featuring Hayley Williams

15. “All the Right Moves” – One Republic

16. “Human” – The Killers

17. “Mul Mantra” – Snatam Kaur

18. “The World Has Turned And Left Me Here” – Weezer

19. “This is Your Life” – The Killers

20. “Lied2” – Andrea Bocelli

21. “Travels” – Pat Metheny

22. “Turtle Back Hill” – Max Lasser 

23. “Breathe Me” – Sia

24. “Praise You” – Fatboy Slim

25. “Viva La Vida” – Coldplay (I couldn’t resist!)

Thank you to all those that contributed!

Tell me in the comments below: What’s on your go-to playlist, and how does it affect your mood?

Here’s a great summary of some of the research on our emotional responses to music.

Photo by RelaxingMusic via Flickr

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Tamara January 15, 2013 at 8:04 pm

I use Pandora to create playlists based on a couple of artists that I like. It’s pretty easy to “not like” any song that they come up with that doesn’t work and that eliminates it from the mix forever. I have a playlist based on the “Mamas and the Papas” when I do my aerobic exercise because it tends to be upbeat and lots of great oldies. I, of course, have a station based on Enya. I have a station based on Karunesh for a more foreign flare. I have stations based on John Fahey and Leo Kotke for guitar, and on and on. I have many, many stations…some totally instrumentals that I listen to while I work. BUT, in fact, there are many times I just like quiet to hear my own thoughts, to hear the birds sing, to hear the wind chimes in the breeze. I find it best to have it quiet when I’m trying to understand an emotion or reaction to something that I don’t understand. Just listen to my own mind and think things through without distraction.


Victoria Gigante January 15, 2013 at 8:15 pm

Awesome. I haven’t used Pandora much. I’ll have to check it out. I totally agree with you regarding silence. Nothing beats the sound of silence sometimes. Oh, and I definitely have an Enya playlist as well. Don’t we all… 🙂 Thank you for sharing!


Carlo May 7, 2014 at 10:06 pm

I listen to Our God by Chris Tomlin whenever I want something done. It could be a blog post (which I have none as of the moment. hehe) or anything from my job.

It fills my body with all the positive energy that I need, and helps me ignore all the noise.


Victoria Gigante May 8, 2014 at 7:09 am

That’s awesome, Carlo. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

Peace + Calm,


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