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What is Music Psychology?

Updated: Jul 9, 2022

What is music psychology and what’s the purpose of studying music psychology? Music psychology includes the studies of the fields of psychology and musicology. The interactions between these two make music psychology a dynamic field of study and research.

The objective of music psychology is to help understand and explain what causes and influences people’s musical experiences. It includes how a person makes his/her choice in music, to how the listener perceives what they hear. The study is not only about theoretical musical concepts, but how these concepts actually impact people in the real world.

How music is created

Music psychology also studies how music is created. Before a listener or an audience can emotionally or physiologically respond to a song, the songwriter has to create it. Although song structures may not seem complicated, writing music is actually a highly psychological process that can be partially broken down and understood by scientific methods.

The work of music psychologists is not only for the purpose of understanding music from the psychological point of view. It helps us explore the human psyche. The work of music psychologists helps audio producers understand and relate to musicians and know when they are in the creative “zone.”

The use of music psychology

Empirical data is collected through countless studies collected over many years. Music psychologists study how participants interact with certain types of music and sheds light on the working of the psyche. Information unearthed from music-related research is surprisingly useful to a number of industries.

Studies from music psychology are useful not only for the fields of performance and composition but also serve areas in education, criticism, and therapy. Music is a part of every human’s life and therefore many industries have a lot to gain from applying a deeper understanding of music’s effect on the human mind.

The research includes studying how different songs and chords can impact a person’s attitude. It also probes how sound alone can shift a person’s mood from happiness to sadness. Music psychology also studies how music plays a part in human development, performance ability, and overall intelligence to creativity.

Beyond music and psychology

There might not be a direct correlation but the study of music psychology contributes to the advancement of music theory itself. It makes expressing certain patterns and musical structures easier through computational modeling. The furthering of music theory is in direct relation to the investigations of how music is perceived through a combination of form, metre, rhythm, tone, melody, and harmony.

Musical historians have long used the advancement of music psychology knowledge to gain a greater understanding of musical syntax. Systematic studies in music psychology have explored how people compose, expressed, and react to music hundreds and thousands of years ago. Historians and psychologists both dig into the minds of great composers like Beethoven and Bach, as well as the quirky psychologies of Paganini and Mozart.

Music psychology is a broad field because music has been a part of human culture for tens of thousands of years or longer. If you are interested in music either as a musician or an audio producer, you might want to find out more about music psychology.

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