Music ‘takes nine minutes to make you happy’

Listen to music – seb_ra/iStockphoto

Music takes 13 minutes to “solve sadness” but nine to make you happy.

Researchers say they’ve figured out how long a person needs to listen to music to experience a therapeutic effect.

They believe there’s a “common dosage” found by asking 7,581 people around the world to listen to different genres of music to study how long it took them to experience a certain mood shift.

No music was provided to participants in the Music as Medicine study, but they were asked to choose their own based on the genre tested.

The British Academy of Sound Therapy study found that happiness is the quickest mood to achieve in just nine minutes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, to feel happy you should choose music with “a driving rhythm, a fast tempo and upbeat lyrical content.”

After listening to uplifting music, 65% of subjects reported being happier and laughing more, 89% had improved energy levels, and 82% felt more in control of their lives, all of which “had the effect that they were more positive about others,” the researchers explained.

Helps with relaxation

The optimal listening time for relaxation is 13 minutes, and the music should be slow tempo, simple melody and no lyrics. Reported benefits include reduced muscle tension for 79% of listeners, while 84% agreed that negative thoughts started to go away. A sense of peace and contentment and better sleep were also recorded.

13 minutes is also the magic number for concentration. While few people tend to listen to music to focus, an impressive 91% felt supported in their work when finding the right tunes. Subjects reported that their “minds became clearer, they could do their jobs better” and 89% said decision-making became easier.

And for those who use music to release sadness, 13 minutes is again optimal. For this, it is important to choose music with lyrical content that you can connect to.

The study was carried out by the British Academy of Sound and Therapy, founded in 2000, which runs training courses in the field of sound therapy and “has set the standard for sound therapy in the UK and overseas”.

Common patterns in the study

Lyz Cooper, founder of the British Academy of Sound Therapy, explained that while people’s experience of music and their mood is subjective, common patterns were found throughout the study.

She said: “A lot of the work we do at the Academy looks at how music affects brainwaves and heart rate, blood pressure and stress responses. These are all measurable things.

“Subjective data is still scientific if the sample size is large enough. Therefore, we consider this study to be scientific.

“It was important for us to do a cross-cultural study because we wanted to see how music affects people mentally, emotionally and physically, no matter where they are in the world.

“Music really transcends borders.”

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