Why Does Songs Touch us Emotionally?

Are there certain songs or tunes that unfailingly make you emotional, sentimental, soppy, or make you cry when you hear them? Or maybe the other way around, makes you upbeat, happy or smiling. What might be the cause of this? Is it primarily the lyrics, the melody, or is it because of certain personal situation you are experiencing?

For me, this may be because music shares countless features that are vital for sharing, conveying, and understanding sentiments and emotions. I think it’s a combination of things. We could relate music to our life experiences unintentionally.

Certain songs remind me of people and places of my past / present situations that had influence me (positively or negatively). Say, when I hear a certain song from the 1990’s, it will remind me of my childhood days, my family and friends back then. To mention a few, there’s “Get Down” by Backstreet Boys and “Macarena” by Los del Río that could make me start to giggle and get down to the dance floor, just like the old days. “Crush on You” and “I’m All About You” by Aaron Carter makes me remember of those guys I had a crush on, hahaha. How nice to reminisce all those years, I’ve inserted some of my childhood photos below.

The other day, I was listening to music while I was busy replying to emails and checking priority issues at work, there’s this song “Marry Your Daughter” by Brian McKnight that out of the blue got me slightly emotional or sentimental. Tears were starting to well up and because I felt awkward since I’m at work, I changed the music. It wasn’t like I was getting panic-stricken, but was just feeling somewhat emotional at that moment.

There are a few songs I could remember that find me like that. One, is the song I had mentioned, plus the songs “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri, “Forevermore” by Side A, “From this Moment On” by Shania Twain and most of David Pomeranz songs. Just don’t know what are on these songs why it touches me emotionally?

Does it make sense? Maybe…


About PrettyGee

Gee is a gal from Philippines who’s so girly. She is a typical blogger, a frustrated photographer, an aspiring designer, a traveler and a dreamer. Let her take you to her colorful and zesty world as she randomly unravels her feats, interests, passions, and dreams in life :-)

Posted on August 12, 2012, in Entertainment & Lifestyle, Live ♥ Laugh ♥ Love and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Music and Emotions

    The most difficult problem in answering the question of how music creates emotions is likely to be the fact that assignments of musical elements and emotions can never be defined clearly. The solution of this problem is the Theory of Musical Equilibration. It says that music can’t convey any emotion at all, but merely volitional processes, the music listener identifies with. Then in the process of identifying the volitional processes are colored with emotions. The same happens when we watch an exciting film and identify with the volitional processes of our favorite figures. Here, too, just the process of identification generates emotions.

    An example: If you perceive a major chord, you normally identify with the will “Yes, I want to…”. If you perceive a minor chord, you identify normally with the will “I don’t want any more…”. If you play the minor chord softly, you connect the will “I don’t want any more…” with a feeling of sadness. If you play the minor chord loudly, you connect the same will with a feeling of rage. You distinguish in the same way as you would distinguish, if someone would say the words “I don’t want anymore…” the first time softly and the second time loudly.
    Because this detour of emotions via volitional processes was not detected, also all music psychological and neurological experiments, to answer the question of the origin of the emotions in the music, failed.

    But how music can convey volitional processes? These volitional processes have something to do with the phenomena which early music theorists called “lead”, “leading tone” or “striving effects”. If we reverse this musical phenomena in imagination into its opposite (not the sound wants to change – but the listener identifies with a will not to change the sound) we have found the contents of will, the music listener identifies with. In practice, everything becomes a bit more complicated, so that even more sophisticated volitional processes can be represented musically.

    Further information is available via the free download of the e-book “Music and Emotion – Research on the Theory of Musical Equilibration:


    or on the online journal EUNOMIOS:


    Enjoy reading

    Bernd Willimek

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