Using music to improve your mood is a perfectly valid use of songs. In fact, music has been used to uplift humans since the beginning of human history. Music uplifts the spirit and increases energy among individuals and groups. Getting the right kind of music to improve your mood is the tricky part, since everyone has different tastes and mental states. Something that raises your mood might depress someone else, or bore them to tears.
For instance, if someone is depressed, a “happy song” could either lift up their spirits or just make them angry. At the same time, a “sad song” or “depressing song” might drive them further into despair, or inspire that person, because they connect with the words and tunes of someone else out there in the world who felt the same emotions. So “music and moods” are by no means universal. With that in mind, I’ll suggest types of music that might improve your mood.
Improving Your Mood With Nostalgic Music
There are ways of improving your mood with nostalgic music. Let’s start with the song which made you happy before. Go back to a happy time of your life. Maybe you were enjoying a carefree time with your friends or had just “fallen in love” for the first time. Maybe you were experiencing the first freedoms of your teenage years, or it was your first semester at college. Everyone will have a different experience, but remember the songs you were listening to at that time. Once you remember the songs that bring back good feelings and good memories, start collecting those songs.
Even if you don’t have the money to buy downloads or rebuy every great CD you once had, go to Youtube and look up the song you enjoyed. Listen to the song and watch the video that goes with that song. That will take you back into the good times you had. You can even follow the links to similar tunes from that period in your life, maybe even hit songs you forgot existed. Do this when you’re feeling down, or make a tape of such songs.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that old songs bring with them a lot of nostalgia. Even songs I didn’t particularly like at the time evoke memories of another time and place. Since many people look back at their childhood as “simpler” or “more carefree”, you can escape for a few moments a day with a warm memory from the past.
Of course, nostalgia only goes so far. Many people don’t want to hide in the songs of the past, but find new and fresh songs that will improve their moods. I imagine that someone asking how they can use music to improve their mood is looking for new songs that will spark new, positive emotions, so let’s stop dwelling in the past and get into the kind of music which might improve your moods.
Experiencing New Tunes To Improve Mood
A couple of representative radio stations which play chill music are “Chill Out Lounge” and “Groove Salad on SomaFM”. Some of the most-played chill acts on these stations are Air, Thievery Corporation, Fila Brazillia, Boards of Canada, Lemon Jelly, Afterlife and Groove Armada, though the playlists are full of creative chill tunes from obscure bands and Djs around the world.
Classical Music – Don’t let your preconceived notions keep you from enjoying classical music. Everyone will find the type of classic songs they’ll enjoy, if they sift through enough of them. That’s the trick, of course. Whatever the case, you should at least give uplifting classical music a try, and don’t let anyone tell you you’re being pretentious or elitist learning to enjoy classical music. I’m no expert about classical music, though I have enjoyed certain composers over the years.
Mozart is calm and elegant, so that’s a great place to start listening to classical music. Vivaldi also tends towards elegance, though you’ll find a little Italian passion in this former monk’s music, occasionally. If drama, emotion and romance raise your spirits, try Beethoven. Franz Schubert came just after Beethoven, and therefore is rooted firmly in the romantic period, though his melodies are first rate and beautiful, and tend to put me in a good mood. Brahms and Wagner add to the scope and drama of the classical period, though listeners to Wagner will need more patience. If you like romantic piano music, Franz Lizst is a good place to start. For those who enjoy darker tunes and unorthodox piano arrangements, Frederic Chopin might be a good place to start.
Tchaikovksy often raises my mood, though I think a lot of his music is supposed to do the opposite, I think (maybe I’m wired backwards). 20th century classical music tends to be a little more jarring and atonal, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it as a body of music to improve your mood. If you want to go back in time, many people enjoy Baroque music most of all, because of the extraordinary variety it encompasses and its “quaint”, often anachronistic, complicated melodies. Try Johann Sebastian Bach and if you enjoy listening to “interesting patterns of sound”, because you can follow the intricate melodies and wonder at the mind of a man who could imagine such complexity.
This is just scratching the surface, of course. Don’t be ashamed to try out opera recordings composed by Verdi or Bizet, to see if these relax you and improve your mood. Give Spanish classical guitar songs a try. You might find them relaxing or frustrating, but if you prefer more intimate arrangements, Spanish guitar music might be for you. If neither guitar songs or opera scores are for you, try out the other classical music arrangements and see which work for you. I’m a novice collector, so if you want an obscure genius work, you’re barking up the wrong tree, but maybe you can start down the path to uplifting classical songs from the short list above.
Salsa Music – I love salsa music and it generally puts me in a good mood. Give salsa music a listen and see if it does the same for you. Salsa music comes from Cuba originally, and it is an interesting fusion of several rich musical traditions.
Because Cuba was colonized by the Spanish Empire, Cuba’s musicians became familiar with the European musical forms, and were heavily influenced by Spanish versions of European classical music and instrumentation. Because Spain’s colonists brought African slaves to the island during the colonial period, Cuban music is heavily influenced by the drums and beats of the displaced West African slaves.
And because Cuba was an American protectorate from the end of the Spanish-American War (1898) to the rise of Fidel Castro to power (1959), Cuba was influenced by American music of the early 20th century, especially jazz.
Put all that together with the natural talents of the Cuban people and Cuban salsa is a vibrant, often upbeat, technically-sound brand of music which is known to lift the spirits of those who listen to it. Give salsa music a try. It might be just different enough to bring something new into your life.
Trance Music – Trance is electronic music with roots in the symphonic and new age sounds, but they are fast and high-energy mixes.
Trance music is what I listen to when I work out. It’s high energy keeps me going through workouts, and it’s become something I associate with “pep me ups”. If you like electronic music, ambient sounds, a sizable number of instrumentals and a good portion of the singing done by females, you’ll enjoy trance music. The combination of energy and beauty might improve your mood.
You’ll find some forms of trance music among the rave music sub-genres. (“House” electronic songs are based more on soul or funk.) These would include “hard trance” and “goa trance”. Since individual DJ’s often mix genres and remix songs, it’s easy to overstate the distinctions in the various electronic and rave music genres. I would like to try house music to see if it has the same effect on me as trance music, and I’ll report back when I do.
Music Genres I Can Use To Lift My Mood
Ultimately, just about any music can be used to lift your mood. Some people will find even the most violent-sounding and aggressive music lifts their spirits. Maybe metal or hip hop puts you in a good mood, because these songs get your juices flowing. Or maybe new age music, which would cause some people to fall asleep or just roll their eyes, puts you in a good mood. That’s just how people in this world are different.
The Sensual Impact Of Music
From the beginning, music was meant to have not only an emotional, but a sensual impact.
Someone much smarter than me has pointed out before that our five senses are actually just three senses. Sight is one sense, of course. Taste and smell are really just one sense, which I think most people would understand when they think about it for a second. But the one that most people miss is that touch and hearing are really the same sense.
That is, hearing is just the ability of our ears to discern sound vibrations touching our body (ear drums). That’s important when you start to consider music. Music literally touches our bodies, so listening to music isn’t just an intellectual process. Music literally makes you feel good, because music vibrations are bouncing off your body as you listen.
That’s why the sounds of music are so much more important to me than musical lyrics. To me, it’s the sound that makes music so different than most other forms of art. If I want a good story, I can read a book. If I want to hear words put in a pleasing fashion, I can read poetry out loud. So it’s the sound of music that sets it apart, and it’s the sensual soundwaves associated with music (and not the intellectual connection we have to the lyrics) which is going to improve our mood.
I’m making a generalization, of course. I have a good friend who loves the stories that songs tells. You give him a musician with a six-string and a few funny lyrics and he’s instantly in a better mood. That’s every bit as legitimate of a reason for listening to music. It’s just not how music affects me.
The point being, music has different effects on people. I’m arguing, though, that if you want music to put you in a good mood quickly, you’re probably better off finding the most pleasing sounds and most interesting patterns of sounds, and the above genres of music are what I personally have found to be the best music.
Try New Music Until Something Works
What works for me may not work for you, though. If the music you’re listening to isn’t putting you into a good mood — and that’s what you’re looking for in your music — then keeping trying new songs and new musical genres until you find one that does. Don’t box yourself in to the music genres you’ve listened to until now, or the ones that your friends seem to listen to. Everyone is different.
Think about it. We’re living in a golden age of music availability. More music is available for us to conveniently listen to than at any other time in history, so we might as well use the music we have available to improve our mood or entertain ourselves as we see fit. Enjoy.