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Classical Music Influence on Brain and Mood Research Paper



Music is found in both traditional and modern societies. Its roles have not changed significantly amid changes in lifestyles and state of technology. Music serves to entertain, overcome certain emotions, express some emotions, and relax the mind.

Through music, people can change their moods from sadness to happiness without realizing it. It has positive effects in relieving stress, which suggests that it influences the brain and its processes. Music drives people’s moods so that when shifts from one state to another occur, they feel relaxed and relieved.

Through it, people can go about their daily chores energetically. This paper reports on the positive effects of music on both the brain and mood.


Different people have disparate music preferences. However, some music genres make individuals to react both emotionally and physically. Music constitutes an essential element of people’s lives. Individuals react towards music without realizing.

For instance, when one hears his or her most favorite music, he or she starts singing along or even dancing without even realizing it. This aspect suggests that music influences the brain significantly. When sad, listening to one’s favorite music can change the mood to happiness.

Depending on the genre, music shapes people’s moods accordingly. For example, listening to blues may create a romantic mood amongst its listeners. This paper discusses the effects of classical music on the brain and mood. It first establishes a theoretical background on the effects of music on the brain and mood.

Literature review

Music plays important roles in the lives of people. Historically, it was highly appreciated as it formed part of the primitive ancient civilizations’ lifestyles. Similarly, it forms part of the modern civilizations’ lives. Similar to language, music is universal in the sense that all societies and communities have differing music genres, which are powerful tools that speak louder than words (Yehuda, 2011).

Indeed, sound does not tell lies so that music possesses a legitimate authority. Many philosophers and psychologists are intrigued due to the effects of music on emotions, brain, and moods of people. Therefore, they endeavor to unveil its implication on the human body. Music can be traced at infancy stages of human development

. Yehuda (2011) posits that infants have an innate psychological behavior for music in terms of depicting awareness of it and the expression of musical behaviors. This assertion suggests that music in rooted in nature of people.

People possess predispositions for ‘musicking.’ Gilboa, Bodner, and Amir (2006) maintain that music constitutes a biological adaption, which is developed through evolution. The authors deploy concepts of music in describing initial communications between mothers and their babies, and thus it forms the annotation used by people while speaking expresses their authentic emotions (Gilboa et al., 2006).

Consequently, music constitutes a manifestation of emotional communications amongst people. Miell, MacDonald, and Hargreaves (2005) report positive impacts of music on people’s bodies by discussing its therapeutic effects in Greek myths and beliefs.

For instance, Yehuda (2011)notes that music helps in “restoring both the soul and the body to a state of equilibrium, arousing or soothing as needed, to temper excess or deficient emotion and creating the sensation of pleasure through movement” (p. 86). The Greeks also believed that music helps in inducing the catharsis, which purges the soul of emotional turmoil.

This assertion suggests that since ancient times, people have appreciated that music has the capability of penetrating souls and bodies. Various productions for human behavior underscore the existence of the perception that music produces healing effects. For instance, King George I suffered from troubles of tension handling coupled with failure of the capacity to recall.

On searching “the biblical account of King Saul, he considered Saul to have suffered the same problem” (Yehuda, 2011, p. 86). King George quickly realized that King Saul deployed a specific type of music to overcome his problems. Therefore, he directed Fredrick Handel to create a piece of music that would produce similar effects to those realized by King Saul through music. Handel composed the ‘water music’, which king George loved incredibly.

Music comprises a symbolic language, which does not refer to particular associations. Nevertheless, Miell et al. (2005) posit that its structures help in conveying certain meanings to the people’s brains.

The authors further state that music “can act as a powerful sensory stimulus, thus engaging the brain in retraining neural and behavioral functions that can be applied to non-musical context in everyday life, such as therapeutic needs” (Miell et al.,2005, p.78). This aspect suggests the likelihoods for the music to impact people’s brains and moods. This likelihood is discussed in the next section.

Impacts of music on the brain and mood

Music compliments everyday lives of all people. Individuals listen to music to make their mornings better, ensure that they relax after work in the evening, or even enhance their motivation at work. Students find music valuable during study time, while surgeons conduct their intricate procedure with glamorous background music.

This aspect implies that people deploy music as a mechanism of enhancing their moods (Janssen, Broek & Westerink, 2012). This positive effect of classical music in enhancing people’s moods has significantly become important over the last 20 years following the rapid explosion of new technologies, which have facilitated the digitization of music.

People now can listen to classical music while on their cars, doing household chores, reading, and doing almost any other activity. When reading a book, people prefer relaxing classical music. When doing hard jobs, energizing classical music is perhaps highly preferable. This aspect implies that different music genres suit different situations depending on the required specific type of mood arousal (Janssen et al., 2012).

Music influences people’s mood by affecting various factors, which promote or trigger certain moods. One of such factors is stress levels. Different people have disparate levels to which they can withstand stressing environmental conditions effectively.

Factors such as personality types, the emotional stability attributes of different people, and more importantly personal temperaments may determine this ability (Kumar & Sharma, 2011). Exposure to stressing environmental conditions has negative consequences to both psychological and physiological health of people.

Stress may have the implication of low satisfaction with life, and thus lead to incapacity for people to work both effectively and efficiently. At organizational level, stress correlates positively with burnout, which constitutes an important factor for high labor turnover (Adhia, Nagendra & Mahadevan, 2010).

In clinical settings, stress entails one of the risk factors for cancer, hypertension, and diabetes among other chronic ailments. If classical music can help to alter people’s moods, then it implies that listening to one’s favorite lyrics can help to shift the mind from environmental stressors.

Music has the capacity to reduce stress and increase it depending on the classical genres played. For example, music reminiscent of sorrows in life may increase stress associated with certain encounters in life. However, many psychological studies on impacts of music focus more on positive effects of music than negative consequences.

The goal of psychology is to produce healing effects on an individual, rather than worsening the situation. Although stress may have some positive implications on people, its management mainly concerns dealing with its negative consequences in all lifestyles.

Stress management highlights the deployment of psychotherapeutically designed techniques for reducing and keeping stress levels under check to ensure proper functioning of people’s brains in theireveryday work. Music can alter people’s attitudes.

Indeed, any psychotherapeutic technique that alters people’s attitude produces healing effects. For instance, yoga is one of the techniques for managing stress and its historical roots and principles hinge on Hinduism philosophy.

For instance, the karma yoga, which is one of Yoga types, aids in controlling stress through the development of appropriate attitudes in relation to work environment coupled with enhancing the ability to respond positively to professional anticipations for managers and employees in any organization, the industry of operation notwithstanding (Kumar & Sharma, 2011).

In workplaces, the alleviation of stress entails the use of strategies like the minimization of demands, thus raising people’s ability to deal with changing cognitive appraisals, psychological, and behavioral responses. Deploying music in managing stress constitutes a palliative approach to dealing with internal psychological process among individuals.

It has the capacity to reduce distress coupled with tension (Yehuda, 2011).As argued before, music influences people’s mood by reducing stress. Excessive stress levels beyond an individual’s stress threshold may induce common illness such as aches and pains, inflexibility, and lack of mental relaxation.

Stress truncates to uncomfortable life through the reduction of joy by conditions as insomnia and headaches coupled with backaches. These challenges constitute the symptoms of major epidemic illness like osteoporosis. Stress also correlates positively with vata derangement, which is associated with reduced instability and flexibility upon excessive rise of air related to various aspects of the body (Treven, 2010).

High levels of vita air have the implication of causing people to have mood swings due to lack of focus and rajasic mental state. Major symptoms for this condition include insomnia and anxiety. Classical music produces positive effects on these conditions by countering incidences of mood swings. To this extent, by influencing moods, classical music enables people to live happier lives.

Burnout constitutes a response to interpersonal coupled with emotional stressors within work environments. It has inefficacy, disparagement, and mental and emotional fatigue as its main aspects (Adhia et al., 2010). In particular, work-related burnout has negative implications on the effectiveness of an organization and its workers’ health.

Research in organizational management identifies burnout and discusses its complexity in affecting work relationships, which leads to organizational conflicts. In organizational settings, the relationship between stress and burnout suggests that classical music can offer holistic solutions that can foster stress elimination through influencing people’s moods (Adhia et al., 2010).

Music techniques deployed in dealing with stress entails listening, imagery, muscle relaxation, and preferred listening among others. Brain plays significant roles in relaxation. If music can result in positive effects in terms of enhancing relaxation, then it implies that it has effects on the system that controls functionalities of the body.

Yehuda (2011) supports this assertion by evidencing the psychiatric effects of classical music on prisoner patients. The author reports that the treatment for psychiatric conditions for the patients indicated significant improvements in terms of relaxations, alteration of moods, and thinking processes about one’s personality and abilities (Yehuda, 2011).

This aspect shows that music affects people’s moods, which is preceded by influencing the brain on a given stimuli, thus invoking certain mood changes. Studies conducted through survey for participants in parenting magazines in the US context evidence that people cognize the roles of music in the reduction of stress and alternation of the mood.

Yehuda (2011) posits that participants in the surveys frequently cite the capacity of music to change their moods. Despite the view that the conclusions by Yehuda (2011) depended mainly on institutions, a growing body of literature supports such findings.

He lists various researches in the fields of education, therapy, and psychology by registering positive effects of music on stress management coupled with changing moods for children and adults (Yehuda, 2011). Mood has the capability of inducing anxiety among people. Classical music acts as anxiolytic treatment strategy, which is essential in the reduction of anxieties (Janssen et al., 2012). Classical Music affects people’s mood via sympathetic resonance.

Time utilized in medical examination is highly relaxing by playing patients soothing music (Yehuda, 2011). Indeed, music has positive impacts on differing clinical settings. However, only few nursing and medical researches study the roles of music in clinical settings.

However, based on psycho-physiological literature, specific types of music reduce anxiety levels coupled with improving respiration and heart rate without negating the increment of temperature (Janssen et al., 2012). Indeed, Yehuda (2011) recommends classical music genres deployed traditionally to relax the mind and reduce anxiety experienced by students waiting to take tests in learning institutions.

This aspect implies that music can help in changing an examination mood, which helps in the elimination of fear for an examination. Such moods result from over concentration on test, which brain plays central roles in maintaining focus on the subject. Thus, since music changes an examination mood, it also suggests that it helps in shifting the focus of the brain from over-thinking on the awaiting test.

In this context, music affects the brain of not only students waiting to sit for a test, but also on anxieties in all contexts. Despite the fact that classical music has sedative effects so that its lowers anxiety, it is perhaps inconclusive to infer that people respond in the same manner to sedative classical music.

Response to music depends on factors like familiarity, training, the presently experienced mood, and the preferences for different music types. Consequently, determining the effects on music on an individual’s mood requires an understanding of neuropsychological relationship between emotional process and musical responses. This understanding can lead to the development of a thorough knowledge on implication of music on brain-mood emotional structure.

People, amid their cultural inclinations, have the capacity to identify emotions associated with specific types of music, which can change moods on top of inducing and controlling emotions. This aspect makes it possible for the music to be deployed in enhancing people’s well-being, distracting patients, lowering stress levels, and handling unpleasant symptoms.

Yehuda (2011) notes that music “seems to effectively reduce anxiety and improve mood for medical and surgical patients, especially for patients in intensive care units and those undergoing aversive procedures” (p. 90). In addition, it creates a soothing environment for people with terminal conditions as they undergo lenitive care. These aspects influence the alteration of moods since every feeling has an associated mood.

Music makes people smile, excited, dance with the rhythm, and cry. Playing classical music may bring back into life a past memory. It changes the mood instantaneously.

The main question, which has elicited diverse investigations, is on how listening to music coupled with rhythms may help people to improve their life experiences so that they can live fulfilling lives while dealing with situations such as stress and anxiety in some scenarios.

Classical music may affect people’s mode in differing ways, but the primary mechanisms involve the rhythm coupled with tone elements. When listening to classical music rhythm, one’s heart synchronizes alongside the playing music. Slow heartbeat followed by increasing diastolic pressures notifies the brain about the possibility of a bad thing or depressing experience.

Fast beats accompany excitement. “Dreamy rhythm coupled with occasional upbeats may create a mood of love or joy” (Kumar & Sharma, 2011, p. 18). Similarly, tones of classical music help in defining the mood in the context of the music, which is assimilated into the individual listening to the music.

A strong “key may signify communications that are cheerful and soothing to the brain of the listener, while low keys indicate soft lamentations coupled with sighs (O’Donnell, 2013, par. 17).These aspects influence the brain by directing the people’s psych to feel the things communicated to them.

However, determining the manner in which classical music affects the brain and the mood does not constitute a simple endeavor. Researchers across the globe heavily engage in the task of determining the applicability and validity of these discussed possible ways in which classical music may impact or cause mood changes.

For example, a research conducted by the Missouri University researchers argued that in certain situations, music has the capacity to alter the mood of the listeners and increase their happiness within a period of two weeks (O’Donnell, 2013). In the research, the participants were instructed to make attempts of feeling happier while listening to neutral music or a high upbeat music.

Listeners for upbeat tone were found happier than for neutral music. The music therapy indicated that cheerfulness could also be contributed by listening to music of the right tune and rhythm (O’Donnell, 2013). Considering the potential positive effects of classical music on the mood and the brain, the music can be adapted to influence people to behave in certain ways.

For example, one can increase his or her energy for the day chores by listening to upbeat music early in the morning as he or she prepares for work. Such music can help in awakening hormones related to just get up and get ready. By encouraging this kind of activities coupled with the brain’s response associated with it, the mood for work may increase, which also helps in fostering one’s productivity all day long.

Depression and anxiety act together to lower one’s mood. In a bid to decrease the effects of anxiety, listening to soothing music such as classical music accompanied by meditation is crucial. However, the overall outcome may also depend on the selected tune of classical music.

In this context, Janssen et al. (2012) note, “Pioneers in the field of music, tones and mood are creating more and more pieces aimed at not only speaking to the brain, but actually directing it to achieve changes you would like to feel” (p. 261). Such music arrangements produce a particular rhythm, which then the brain follows to induce a predetermined mood.

From the above augments, scholars studying the effects of music on the mood and brain contend that the impacts on music on mood and brain depend on the type and genre of the music. Amid its positive effects in managing stress and its related moods, music can also induce stress, intolerance, and anxiety (Yehuda, 2011).

Classical music can be used as a weapon or a strategy of ensuring that people behave in a particular manner. For instance, in the past, music has been used in Britain and Australia to induce a mood of intolerance. Classical music effectively compelled teenagers to walk away from a railway station when they became bored by it.

The US military also use “combination of high amplitude rock and happysmiley children’s songs that are reported to break the will of the hardest terrorist” (Yehuda, 2011, p.90). Thus, music can change reasoned decisions. Such decisions involve the use of brain in determining appropriate cause of actions.

Considering the view that different music genres have different effects on the brain and the mood, an emerging question is what music should one listen to -classical music, rock, or blues. A study conducted at Penn State University indicated that students listening to any kind of music experience joy, relaxation, optimism, and calmness (Yehuda, 2011).

While some researchers at the university recommended that students listen to soothing music like classical music, others noted that even the hardest music like rock produce positive effects on the student’s mood. However, irrespective of the genres that make one happy or emotionally energetic, there is also sad music.

Bachorik, Bangert, Loui, Larke, and Berger (2009) discuss one of the studies on the impacts of sad and happy music on people’s mood after listening to them. People listening to happy music feel happiness as an outcome while those listening to sad music feel sad afterward. The specifically worrying aspect in the research findings is that sad or happy music triggers different thoughts.

People listening to sad classical music remember mainly of bad experiences that they have encountered in their lives. Bachorik et al. (2009) reckon that they also experience challenges in successfully doing simple chores.

The mind reacts in diverse ways to both gloomy and cheerful classical melodies. In fact, few words of either kind of music have the implications on one’s mood. For instance, “listening to a very short piece of music, one can judge or interpret neutral expressions as matching either sad or happy moods” (Bachorik et al., 2009, p. 359).

Facial expression changes when listening to a specific type of classical music, which indicates the capacity of the listened music to change the mood of an individual. Classical music affects the mood and brain in terms of felt and perceived emotions. This assertion suggests that people can understand emotions associated with classical music, but they might not feel them.

This aspect may explain why some people may find sad classical music enjoyable as opposed to depressing. Opposed to the actual life situations, listening to sad classical music does not arouse a feeling of an eminent danger. Consequently, it becomes possible to perceive related moods without essentially feeling them.

The effect of classical music on the brain is outstanding. O’Donnell (2013) observes that classical music playing at 60 beats per minute activates right and the left side of the brain in a simultaneous manner. This trend helps in increasing learning coupled with information retention capacity.

The information studied sets the left-brain into action. On the other hand, the played classical music activates right part of the brain. Playing classical music instruments constitutes one of the activities aiding inactivation of the left and right sides of the brain, and O’Donnell (2013) claims that it enhances the information processing ability.


Music has had historical connections with all societies across the globe since the civilization of humanity. All cultures possess music in their traditions. Modern history evidences the influence possessed by music on societal civilization. It aided Jefferson in writing the declaration independence as he could play the violin to help in figuring around the necessary wording for some parts of the document.

Even though music comprises different genres, the available research indicates that all genres have effects on the people’s mood and brain. For instance, classical music creates a relaxation mood, anxiety, and a happy mood depending on the rhythm and the tone. Upbeats create the mood of happiness.

Low beats and low tones create the mood of sadness and sorrow. Such classical music may be referred to sad music, which this paper has argued that it reminiscences past bad feelings and experiences after listening to it. Thus, it is possible to change one’s mood by selecting the rhythm and the tone of classical music to suit the desired mood after listing to it.


Adhia, H., Nagendra, R., & Mahadevan, B. (2010). Impact of Adoption of Yoga Way Life on the Reduction of Job Burnout of Managers. The Journal for Decision Makers, 35(2), 21-33.

Bachorik, P., Bangert, M., Loui, P., Larke, K., & Berger, J. (2009). Emotion in motion: investigating the time course of emotional judgments of musical stimuli. Music Perception 26(4), 355–364.

Gilboa, A., Bodner, E., & Amir, D. (2006). Emotional communicability in improvised music: The case of music therapists. Journal of Music Therapy, 43(1), 198–225.

Janssen, J., Broek, E., & Westerink, L. (2012). Tune in to Your Emotions: Robust Personalized Affective Music Player. User Adaptation International Journal, 22(5), 255-279.

Kumar, J., & Sharma, K. (2011). Karma Yoga: A Philosophical Therapeutic Model for Stress Management. International Journal of Education and Allied Sciences, 3(1), 15-22.

Miell, D., MacDonald, R., & Hargreaves, D. (2005). Musical Communication. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

O’Donnell, L. (2013). Music and the Brain. Retrieved from www.cerebromente.org.br/n15/mente/musica.html

Treven, S. (2010). Individual methods for reducing stress in work settings. Interbeing, 4(2), 1-5.

Yehuda, N. (2011). Music and Stress. Journal of Adult Development, 18(3), 85-94.

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