Crying to Happy Music

I’ve been scratching my head because I have observed individuals cry to happy music. The following are two examples:

Why do individuals cry to music that sounds happy? I wonder, what could they be remembering? What led to the emotional impact? Were they so happy that they cried? Or, were they sad that they were once so happy? I really don’t know! What do you think?

If I were to have made a “Top 15 Energizing Songs to Play for a Group of Persons with Dementia” list, I would have probably included the above songs. It isn’t a bad idea to play happy music that people may weep to. I don’t doubt that it’s a good cry and not a bad cry. In addition, the majority of individuals would dance to this music. However, this makes me hesitant to make such a list of songs. Also, in a group setting, not all individuals are always in the mood for “In the Mood” (I couldn’t resist! I had to!), or for energizing music.

I return to what article piqued my interest in research, an article about music-evoked nostalgia (Barrett et al., 2010). I’m thinking of the mixed emotions of happiness and sadness in music listening. There are also a host of fascinating articles about the conundrum of why we might enjoy listening to sad music (I only included the articles that had the most impact on my research) (Kawakami, Furukawa, & Okanoya, 2014; Vuoskoski & Eerola, 2012). I thought this might be an interesting spin.


Barrett, F. S., Grimm, K. J., Robins, R. W., Wildschut, T., Sedikides, C., Janata, P. (2010).  Music-evoked nostalgia: Affect, memory, and personality. Emotion, 10(3), 390-403.  doi: 10.1037/a0019006

Kawakami, A., Furukawa, K., & Okanoya, K. (2014).  Music evokes vicarious emotions in listeners.  Frontiers in Psychology, 5(431), 1-7.  doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00431

Vuoskoski, J. K., & Eerola, T. (2012).  Can sad music really make you sad?  Indirect measures of affective states induced by music and autobiographical memories.  Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 6(3), 204-213.  doi: 10.1037/a0026937

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