No, we’re not talking about minerals – heavy metal music, as well as music in the emo, hardcore, punk, and screamo genres may actually be beneficial to your health.
If you like that sort of thing, that is.
A study from the University of Queensland in Australia looked at the emotional responses of volunteers when exposed to “extreme” genres of music like the ones listed above.
What they found was the volunteers, all of whom were already fans of these musical genres, experienced a wide range of positive feelings, including happiness, calmness, and a sense of being inspired.
Fighting The Stereotype
It’s a common perception that individuals who listen to these genres of music are generally angry, and that the music reflects a negative emotional state in the listener.
But according to the study, which was published in the journal Frontiers In Human Neuroscience, regular listeners of heavy metal and associated types of music actually felt better for it – even after a 15-minute “anger induction” where they were prompted to recall unhappy personal experiences(1).
This shows that head-banging music doesn’t necessarily amplify negative emotions – in fact, it can actively fight them.
A Healthy Way Of Processing Anger
The study concluded that:
“The findings indicate that extreme music did not make angry participants angrier; rather, it appeared to match their physiological arousal and result in an increase in positive emotions. Listening to extreme music may represent a healthy way of processing anger for these listeners.”
Listeners, the researchers believe, tend to gravitate towards music that matches their current level of agitation or stress, using the energy and rhythm of the music to help them process their feelings.
“We found the music regulated sadness and enhanced positive emotions,” said one of the researchers on the study in a recent press release.
“When experiencing anger, extreme music fans liked to listen to music that could match their anger. The music helped them explore the full gamut of emotion they felt, but also left them feeling more active and inspired.”
“Results showed levels of hostility, irritability and stress decreased after the music was introduced, and the most significant change reported was the level of inspiration they felt.”(2)
The researchers also found that when angry participants were allowed to pick songs from their playlist, they chose songs with themes including anger, aggression, isolation, and sadness – yet “participants reported they used music to enhance their happiness, immerse themselves in feelings of love and enhance their well-being.”
Learning To Love Unusual Music Genres
If you’re not a fan of heavy metal or other extreme musical genres, there’s still hope – studies show that our love of specific musical genres is learned over time, rather than being innate.
One study of 66 volunteers with a range of musical training concluded that “musical harmony can be learnt and it is a matter of training the brain to hear the sounds… so if you thought that the music of some exotic culture (or Jazz) sounded like the wailing of cats, it’s simply because you haven’t learnt to listen by their rules.”(3)
In other words, if you don’t get the appeal of screamo or punk music, you could just need to learn more about the genres – and then you’ll be well on your way to using them to effectively manage stress.[mks_toggle title=”sources” state=”close “]