The Emotional Impact of Sad Music

Music can help heighten the emotion in videos depicting sad stories or moments, amplifying their impact. From soothing piano tunes and deep violin notes to soft voiceover, PremiumBeat provides royalty free music that will stir viewer emotions.

Huron and colleagues conducted a study in which music professionals assessed 44 western instruments’ abilities to evoke sadness. Cello, viola, violin and human voices emerged as superior instruments at producing sad music.

Mood-Inducing Instruments

Music can be an incredible mood-booster by increasing levels of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine releases in response to many activities – from eating sweets and having money, to listening to happy and sad music. McGill University researchers in Canada discovered that listening to both types of songs simultaneously raises this chemical due to similar emotions associated with both. Happy songs evoke feelings of enjoyment that quickly subside; on the other hand, sadness produces stronger and longer lasting emotions that last much longer before dissipating away completely.

Music therapy has long been used as an effective way of inducing the desired mood in various studies. It can quickly change moods that may otherwise be difficult to shift through other means; while techniques like asking someone to imagine being sad are effective, but can often be uncomfortable or distressful, this method provides much easier mood induction in a controlled fashion.

One study demonstrated how listening to sophisticated instrumental music could induce either positive or negative mood states in participants, with researchers asking participants to evaluate their emotions during and after listening to musical stimuli. Researchers discovered that self-reported positive and negative mood states persisted for about 2 minutes post musical stimulus end, with SCL levels continuing to increase until returning back to baseline post music playback.

The authors found that SCL responses were linked to emotional arousal due to rhythmic patterns found in musical excerpts, similar to SCL activity. Furthermore, HR data displayed a deceleration-acceleration pattern during musical stimuli similar to what occurred with SCL activity. Researchers speculated that SCL data is more sensitive to emotional arousal as a direct measure of physiological arousal.

This research is crucial because it shows how music-induced moods tend to last longer, particularly if its pleasant qualities help induce positive rather than sad emotions. Furthermore, authors reported that positive moods induced by music were less pleasant than their negative counterparts.

The Power of Sound

Music can have an immense emotional effect due to both its musical sound and lyrics. Sad songs typically employ lower pitches and slower paces than other genres, and frequently feature lyrics that describe feelings of sorrow, depression, or despair. A popular style that invokes such sadness-inducing music is blues music which often features lyrics such as: “I’ve got the blues.”

Employing music can create an emotional connection between viewers and your content, whether that means setting a slow, melancholy tune as the background for a video, or using it to highlight specific emotions or scenes. While some find music helpful when dealing with difficult circumstances, others seek comfort in sad songs; contrast is usually best in conveying an emotion through sound; otherwise all-emotional songs become tedious quickly.

Slow, melancholy melodies often feature string sections to convey feelings of tragedy and sorrow, while more upbeat songs could incorporate brass sections for added hopefulness and optimism.

Instruments capable of variable pitch-bending offer an effective means to add contrast in music, producing micro-intervals that closely resemble those produced by human voices, making them an excellent way to produce micro-intervals that approximate human speech patterns. No surprise then that those most capable of producing variable pitch-bending were also highly rated on their capacity to express sadness; other features associated with sadness in Huron’s study such as mumbling, dark timbre or lowest pitch may simply reflect cultural associations rather than inherent capabilities of an instrument’s in this regard.

Create a playlist of royalty-free sad music can be both time consuming and costly, particularly when licensing hours of copyrighted material. Mubert’s AI platform makes this task much simpler by helping you quickly craft an appropriate mood playlist based on genre, tempo and BPM (beats per minute). Furthermore, you can enter your resting heart rate so as to ensure that it accurately represents your emotional state when selecting background music for any mood setting.

Emotional Impact

Sad music can have a powerful emotional effect on viewers. Listening to sad songs can elicit feelings of sorrow, melancholia, and melancholy from listeners as well as negative responses like anxiety, stress and depression in listeners. Tempo, melodic shape and instrument choice all impact how this music makes listeners feel.

Musically speaking, instruments with low pitches and dark tonalities tend to elicit sad emotions the best. A study conducted by Huron, Anderson, and Shanahan revealed that musical instruments’ capacity for low energy expression directly related to their ability to convey sadness emotions; their low energy expression stemming from pitch-bending, mumbling or other characteristics associated with sad emotions being modulated through various mechanisms within an instrument’s soundwaves or its tuning system.

Some people enjoy listening to sad music because it transports them back in time or space, often reminding them of past losses or creating feelings of empathy and compassion for those they’ve encountered in their life or those that they know of, leading them on an emotional journey. Because of this effect, many prefer listening to songs with meaningful lyrics and emotional context as listening is also therapeutic for many of these individuals.

Other research has demonstrated that some individuals find pleasure in listening to sad music; however, the reasons behind their enjoyment remain unclear. Some studies have linked enjoyment of sadness music with external factors like personal memories and meaningful lyrics; another found it connected with people’s ability to empathize with fictional events and expression conveyed by its composer.

Sad royalty-free music can help to set an evocative atmosphere when used in videos. While licensing hours of copyrighted music is expensive and time consuming, Mubert’s AI platform makes unique, high-fidelity compositions in just a few clicks. Creators can adjust tempo, instrumentation, timbre and other factors until they find just the right background tune for their projects – for instance the sad violin’s melancholy melody can create the exact mood they desire while piano melodies can play on viewers’ emotions or take them down memory lane.


Prolactin may play a part in why sad music can become enjoyable: this hormone works to buffer against negative emotional reactions by creating feelings of connection and safety. One study showed that participants who enjoyed listening to instrumental sad music experienced elevated levels of prolactin while having lower cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone stress markers; researchers believe this supports their theory that pleasure from sad music lies more with psychological rewards rather than physiological mechanisms like dopamine release.

Other research has demonstrated that listening to sad music increases levels of oxytocin, another chemical associated with feelings of bonding and attachment. Oxytocin acts to inhibit dopamine release by physical contact such as hugging. A study found that participants who enjoyed instrumental sad music experienced higher oxytocin levels in areas of their brain involved with processing emotional stimuli; likely due to both increases, participants reported experiencing pleasure from the combination of oxytocin and prolactin increases.

Psychological rewards from sadness-inducing musical stimuli may also trigger the release of other chemicals, including dopamine and serotonin, into your system. These neuropeptides have the power to alter mood by modulating hormone production/modulation/regulation and homeostasis regulation; as well as help maintain homeostasis regulation. Numerous factors may impact one’s current state of mind including personality traits, social environment considerations and learnt associations with particular music – this interaction of factors may produce various emotions as seen below with blue arrows representing this interaction between all these factors as illustrated below with blue arrows illustrating this interaction as depicted below with respect to specific musical pieces/moods/moods shown below.

Understanding the enjoyment of sad music requires taking an holistic view of human behavior and emotion, including the intricate interplay among biological and psychological factors. The tragedy paradox is best understood in terms of humanity’s deep seated need to maintain psychological and physiological equilibrium and relative stability over time, which explains why many emotions exist to help restore homeostasis, prevent negative valences from disturbing our equilibrium, and allow us to better appreciate negative-valence music stimuli as pleasurable stimuli.