Xylophone – Happy Music & Creativity


Happy music

I’m doing double duty this month during the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Here at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, I will share ways to increase your creativity. I’ll also be doing the challenge at Facing Cancer with Grace, where I will share posts that focus on caregiving. I hope you’ll visit me at both sites. While you’re here, sign up for my email list. Today’s post is X is for Xylophone- Happy Music and Creativity.

Recently a study was done which shows a correlation between listening to happy music and creativity.

Happy Music

By listening to happy music, study participants were able to think more creatively. To be more specific, they were able to perform divergent thinking. This got me thinking about what makes happy music, “happy?” After reading many articles ranging in perspectives from psychologists to musicians, I’ve decided that you know it when you hear it. There is a little more to it than that, though.

What makes happy music, happy, and sad music, sad?

Modes or tonality, for one thing, We had the opportunity to hear Franz Joseph Haydn’s The Seven Last Words of Christ, arranged for a string quartet at the Ordway Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota on Good Friday. It was incredibly moving. Each sonata was written to reflect one of the statements Christ said while on the cross.

Before the concert began, Mark Mazullo, Professor of musicology and piano from Macalester College gave a Fanfare lecture on the music we would be hearing. He spoke about how modes, or tonality, add a mood to the music. Generally, major modes create happy music, while minor modes give the music a more somber tone. To get this effect, there has to be a shift in the mode.

Tempo also plays a role in the mood of a musical piece. A faster tempo is more cheerful than a slow one.
One interesting thing to note about this piece is that the 6th Sonata ”It is Finished,” ends in a major mode (the cheerful mode). This signifies the redemption made possible by Christ’s death.

While I’m not sure why happy music aids creativity, I have experienced this positive effect when writing. Not only do I find writing easier while listening to upbeat songs, but I also write faster, more productively.

When I write, I stick to instrumental music because if there are words being sung, they get jumbled up in my mind with the words I am trying to write. With Streaming services like Spotify. Pandora, and Amazon Prime Music (my personal favorite), finding great music to write to has never been easier or more affordable. My favorite writing music comes from The 2 Cellos and The Piano Guys. What’s your favorite?

And for some exciting Xylophone music… The Flight of the Bumblebee!

While you’re here, sign up for my email list to get a periodic email newsletter to encourage your creativity.

What are YOUR thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

About Heather Erickson

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My books The Memory Maker’s Journal and Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, are available at Amazon.com.

I also blog about living with cancer at, Facing Cancer with Grace.

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8 comments on “Xylophone – Happy Music & Creativity

Good for you, Heather! Not one but two X posts, one of which uses ‘xyplophone’, a word I didn’t think anyone would be able to work with very effectively. And yet you did, with a fascinating and helpful post.
I tend to write in silence but will give happy instrumental music a try on your recommendation. It makes sense that it would have a positive effect.

I so believe this. Even haunting or emotional music can be uplifting when done well.

I can’t believe Flight of the Bumblebee on the xylophone. It’s blistering on a violin!

Thank you, Karen. I had forgotten that I wrote 2 posts until this morning when they both went up. I wrote the expectations one first, and then thought about xylophones and never took the first post down. I hope you enjoy writing to some music. It’s different, for sure.

Hi Jacqui. I thought that was a pretty fun piece, too. Music is such a powerful medium.

It makes sense to me that music and creativity go together. When I need extra focus power, I turn on jazz. I like up tempo music when I’m working on idea but prefer steady tempos when trying to work out hard ideas.
The View from the Top of the Ladder

Hi Su-sieee. I’m totally with you on that. I use different types of music to help my process. In fact, once when writing a very sad scene, I listened to sad music. It really helped.

I like it silent when I write…but when I’m driving I love upbeat sounding songs. Sometimes the lyrics/theme of the songs do not match the tempo/major mode though (at least when it comes to alt rock).

Hi Lee. This might sound silly, but I love sad songs when I am driving in the car, alone. I don’t get a lot of opportunities to cry about what is happening with my husband’s cancer, so those times I am alone in the car (which are rare since I’m often hauling kids around) I like to just get it all out of my system. Music helps that.

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