According to Navneet Tyagi, an experienced scientist, music can easily affect the emotions. If you ask any music enthusiast, they are quick to describe how certain songs make them feel. It seems that those who love music tend to have emotional experiences when they listen to a song that touches them. According to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley, depending how a melody makes us feel, we are likely to link those songs and emotions to specific colors. These findings cross educational and cultural barriers to show that a human’s response to music can be universal or at least very similar in many cases. According to the UC Berkeley researchers, people in the United States and in Mexico linked the same colors with classical orchestral music. It seems that despite their cultural differences, this diverse group of people imagined similar colors and emotions when they heard classical music.
The study called for a 37-color palette, which allowed individuals to make precise color decisions when they were prompted. The palette consisted of different shades of red, yellow, green, blue, and other vibrant colors. Nearly 100 men and women participated in the study, which considered both United States citizens and citizens of Guadalajara, Mexico. The participants listened to 18 classical pieces that ranged from composers like Mozart, Johannes Brahms, and Johann Sebastian Bach. The songs were also varied in their tempo, as some songs were quite upbeat and fast while others were slow and steady. The researchers played a song for the participants and then asked them to identify five specific colors that they felt best matched the music. Navneet Tyagi notes that the study sheds light on our brain’s emotional response to music.
Out of the 37 choices on the color palette, the participants consistently picked more bright and warm colors when they heard upbeat tones. The participants were more apt to choose a dark or dull color when heard more somber tones. The results suggest that when people hear music and begin to associate colors with those sounds, they are using a scale that also defines emotions. In other words, when a piece of music makes a person feel sad or tearful, they associate that feeling with dark colors to match their mood. The researchers also asked participants to choose facial expressions that matched some of the music pieces. After the participant listened to a piece of music, they were shown a series of happy and angry expressions. In a similar fashion, the participants chose happy faces to pair with upbeat music. Navneet Tyagi notes that it is interesting that the music that was more somber and slow was associated with sad-looking faces. Regardless of gender or nationality, the participants had the same emotional responses.
The researchers at UC Berkeley considered music pieces that were played in either a major key scale or a minor key scale for their study. While they gained valuable insight, they hope to study people from all over the world to see if this characterization is a universal skill. The findings insist that the cultural barriers between citizens of Mexico and the United States have no bearing on their music-to-color associations. The findings allowed researched to predict which colors people would pick depending on the song with 95 percent accuracy. These findings will be presented at the International Associate of Colour Conference at the University of Newcastle in the U.K. in a few months. The presentation will include a light show that depicts the music and color convergence for the audience to enjoy. The conference will discuss the neural circuits that register emotions and how they are affected by music.
The researchers are planning to continue these studies on citizens of Turkey where they also want to use a wider range of music pieces. The traditional music of Turkey allows the researchers to employ a wider range of scales that citizens are likely to respond to. As more and more research becomes available, science is upholding the belief that music can truly affect human emotions. In the future, Navneet Tyagi agrees that it would be interesting to study how early in life we make these characterizations. While this study only considered adult participants, researchers hope to study the effects of music on people of all ages.
Navneet Tyagi: Music Therapy Helps Patients
This study also suggests that human beings may be able to change or alter their own mood by employing musical stimuli. Many music enthusiasts claim that they use music to feel better or to reflect on unhappy thoughts. There are even studies that have helped to fund musical therapy treatment for people all over the world. The American Music Therapy Association has helped to establish the music therapy industry as a legitimized health profession. They have found a therapeutic relationship between music and the emotional, social, and cognitive needs of their patients. The treatment is also highly individualized to the patient to ensure that they receive the greatest personal benefits. This allows medical professionals to target their patient’s personal needs. With such individualized treatment, music therapists boast high success rates and happier patients.
The therapy also works to allow the patients to express themselves in a way that’s easy to communicate. As more and more research insists that depression inhibits health, music therapy is becoming a powerful tool that hospitals are utilizing to combat depression. The research is beneficial to the music therapy community. More and more private insurance companies have begun to recognize music therapy as a valuable treatment resource. According to the American Music Therapy Association, approximately 20% of their music therapists receive third party reimbursement for their treatments.
Medical professionals try to play calming music to help patients relax or fall asleep while they also play more upbeat music to motivate them in treatment. In places like rehabilitation centers or nursing homes, being able to motivate the patients is extremely beneficial. The patients are more responsive to treatment while they can also get the rest that they need each night. Navneet Tyagi agrees that music therapy treatment is valuable, as it improves the patient’s quality of life.
Navneet Tyagi is an academic and neuroscience expert that often offers insight to patients and medical professionals alike. His work has even aided professionals in treating diseases like Lou Gehrig’s, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.