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Music, Mood, And Overall Well-Being

Music Can Be Used With Intention As A Tool For Wellness


The ancient Greeks called it "The Ethos of Music" (character or moral of music). Plato and Aristotle wrote about music's effects on the moods and behaviors of listeners. There were scales or modes that were thought or observed to bring out and encourage specific human emotions, states of being, and characteristics.

Without getting too deep into the structural music theory of modes and their harmonic functions, I will say that each mode does have a unique sound, harmony, structure, and place in music that is pleasing to most of our brains and does carry a distinct feeling or emotional quality. Here's an example of how one mode feels: Lydian (my favorite if I had to choose only one, with its magical, mystical, mischievous, seeking, nature and it showcases the tritone.) Lydian was considered by Plato to be "tiring and suitable for parties with a lot of drinking" (from The Republic, Book III, by Plato).

Plato and Aristotle believed that music could be used to support our various emotional states of being or set the emotional conditions for the purpose that we want to promote, and the music that draws us away from that should be avoided. All of the above is just to say that music and mood have been a topic of interest and study since antiquity.


We don't need a scientific study to tell us that music inspires emotions. There is a reason why music accompanies important life events such as weddings, funerals, graduations, and various spiritual, political, and cultural ceremonies, and is played in sports arenas, fitness centers, stores, elevators, and basically everywhere... Music speaks to us and reaches us where, when, and how words alone cannot. I have mentioned before that even plants react to sound, which only makes sense because sounds travel in waves, like light, and waves bounce off of whatever they encounter. We have all physically felt sound. When a car rolls by with its stereo blasting a pulsing bass, we can feel it reverberating in our bodies.

*side video Scientist Explains How to Levitate Objects With Sound Waves (From Wired) We all have experienced that some sounds are more pleasing, and supportive, and have gentler sound waves than other sounds, which can feel disruptive, aggravating, or disorganizing.

Can we use music as a supportive measure to help us?

The short answer is YES! Whether you are trying to study, exercise, elevate your mood, heal your body, organize your mind, meditate, relax/release stress, process sadness or grief, remember, or celebrate, there is music that can support you, in a variety of ways. There have been countless studies on different kinds of music and their effects on us both psychologically and physiologically, and their roles in our development and well-being. It's an ancient observation that is still being studied and implemented today. When conscious and aware of this, we can use this knowledge intentionally to promote and support our optimal health, purpose, and life goals. Music can be and is being used as a tool for wellness.

Below are several resources documenting music's effect on us, and how or why we might consider incorporating music into our health and wellness routines or therapies. So, next time you hit play, be conscious about your music choices — they can affect your emotional state and physical well-being. Be a conscious consumer and choose the music that not only fits your mood right now but what you want to become.

What are your "go-to" tracks for supporting your emotions and who you are becoming? Leave listening suggestions below for us all to enjoy.


From Henry Ford Health: How To Use Music To Boost Your Mood

From Psychology Today: 6 Ways Music Can Lift Your Mood; Music can help with relaxation, stress relief, and mood regulation.

From UPMC: Feeling Down? Surprising Ways Music Can Pick You Up

From SLC Health: Does Music Really Make Us Happy? How Certain Songs Can Impact Our Brain

Music & Memory Music and The Brain

From PubMed: The effects of different types of music on mood, tension, and mental clarity

R McCraty 1, B Barrios-Choplin, M Atkinson, D Tomasino

From PubMed: Cardiovascular and respiratory responses during musical mood induction

Joset A Etzel 1, Erica L Johnsen, Julie Dickerson, Daniel Tranel, Ralph Adolphs

From PubMed: Music and the heart by Stefan Koelsch1, Lutz Jäncke2

From PubMed: Coping with stress: the effectiveness of different types of music

by: Elise Labbé 1, Nicholas Schmidt, Jonathan Babin, Martha Pharr

RE: WHOLE PERFORMANCE From PubMed: Emotions induced by operatic music: psychophysiological effects of music, plot, and acting: a scientist's tribute to Maria Callas

Felicia Rodica Balteş 1, Julia Avram, Mircea Miclea, Andrei C Miu

From The National Library of Medicine: Music, health, and well-being: A review

Raymond A. R. MacDonald, BSc (Hons) PhD CPsychol AFBPS

From Oxford University Press: Music, Health, and Wellbeing by: Raymond MacDonald (ed.),

Gunter Kreutz (ed.), Laura Mitchell (ed.)

From The University of Edinburgh: The role of technology in music listening for health and wellbeing

From Editorial: The Impact of Music on Human Development and Well-Being

From PubMed: Musically induced arousal affects pain perception in females but not in males: a psychophysiological examination by Ramona Kenntner-Mabiala1, Susanne Gorges, Georg W Alpers, Andreas C Lehmann, Paul Pauli

From PubMed: The pleasures of sad music: a systematic review by Matthew E Sachs 1, Antonio Damasio 1, Assal Habibi 1

From PubMed: Relationships between musical structure and psychophysiological measures of emotion by Patrick Gomez 1, Brigitta Danuser From PubMed: Role of tempo entrainment in psychophysiological differentiation of happy and sad music? by Stéphanie Khalfa 1, Mathieu Roy, Pierre Rainville, Simone Dalla Bella, Isabelle Peretz

Some Hellenic Ideas on Music and Character

Louis Harap

The Musical Quarterly Vol. 24, No. 2 (Apr., 1938), pp. 153-168 (16 pages) Published By: Oxford University Press


MONRO London


Oxford University Press Warehouse Amen Corner, E.C. 1894 The Ethical Values of the Music Art of the Ancient Greeks: A Semiotic Essay

Carmen Cozma University "Al.I.Cuza", Iasi Janet L. Olson, Boston University

Wikipedia: Musical System of Ancient Greece


Rediscovering Ancient Greek Music: A performance reconstructs the past Music was ubiquitous in Ancient Greece. Now we can hear how it actually sounded. A short documentary directed by Mike Tomlinson.


Rhetoric The Three Means of Persuasion or Persuasion Ethos: character, moral value, or credibility.

Pathos: feeling or emotions. Logos: logic, rationality, or reasoning. *Well-crafted music encompasses all three. Between the lyric, the melody, the tempo, and the harmony, all four elements are considerations. Presentation is also a factor as seen in the video below. Ted Ed What Aristotle and Joshua Bell can teach us about persuasion - Connor Neill *side note, a lot of great music can be seen in subways and on street corners. I know several wonderful musicians who perform at big theaters and in parks alike. It is not an uncommon practice. Next time you hear a busker, this is something to consider. Merriam-Webster: Pop Rhetoric: Our Favorites; User-submitted examples of rhetorical devices in pop songs


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