How Quickly Can Music Affect Your State of Mind?

William Congreve famously wrote that "music has charms to soothe a savage breast," but now science is stepping in to prove the point.

On average, it takes just nine minutes of listening to upbeat music for people to feel happier.
On average, it takes just nine minutes of listening to upbeat music for people to feel happier.

The British Academy of Sound Therapy conducted a study with 7,581 participants to learn exactly what benefits listening to music offers. Among its findings, the Academy determined that people reap the most benefits from music with a slow tempo, no lyrics, and a simple melody. The researchers found that after listening to this type of music for approximately 13 minutes, people feel more relaxed, are better able to focus, and can work more efficiently.

By contrast, it took an average of nine minutes for people to feel happy and uplifted by listening to upbeat music with a fast tempo.

The study also found that as a result of listening to music, a majority of the research subjects felt more energized (89 percent) and laughed more often (65 percent).

The science of music:

  • A 2008 study found that customers in bars that play loud music drink more alcohol (and they drink it more quickly).

  • Also in 2008, a study of 36,000 fans of either heavy metal or classical music found that they shared many traits, such as being creative, self-assured, and gentle.

  • Another study found that high-tempo music -- fast-paced pop songs, for example -- pushed people to exercise more energetically, especially in endurance activities like cycling.

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