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.
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!
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What are YOUR thoughts?
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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.