Feeling Like Crying When Listening to Music: Exploring Musical and Contextual Features

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Paul Silvia, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: Feeling like crying is a common response to music. Recent work suggests two forms of aesthetic crying: an awe-inspired, positive kind and a distressed, sad kind. Besides their emotional tone, what differentiates these experiences? The present research examined the context and subjective musical content of aesthetic crying. A sample of 961 adults described the emotional tone, musical features, and social and environmental contexts of a feeling like crying experience. Awe experiences more often involved religious or classical music that was complex and beautiful, and people were often with others and hearing the music live. Sad experiences more often involved popular genres (e.g., Pop, Soul or R&B, Country) that were cold and unpleasant, and people often noted that the music reminded them of someone or that they already felt like crying before listening to the music. The distinctions between these two kinds of experiences suggest that current theories of aesthetic crying could be fruitfully expanded.

Additional Information

Empirical Studies of the Arts, 37(2), 119-137
Language: English
Date: 2019
feeling like crying, music, awe, personality

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