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Music Medicine Science

Happy Music Boosts Brain's Creativity, Study Says ( 102

An anonymous reader quotes a report from New Scientist: Need inspiration? Happy background music can help get the creative juices flowing. Simone Ritter, at Radboud University in the Netherlands, and Sam Ferguson, at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, have been studying the effect of silence and different types of music on how we think. They put 155 volunteers into five groups. Four of these were each given a type of music to listen to while undergoing a series of tests, while the fifth group did the tests in silence. The tests were designed to gage two types of thinking: divergent thinking, which describes the process of generating new ideas, and convergent thinking, which is how we find the best solutions for a problem. Ritter and Ferguson found that people were more creative when listening to music they thought was positive, coming up with more unique ideas than the people who worked in silence. However, happy music -- in this instance, Antonio Vivaldi's Spring -- only boosted divergent thinking. No type of music helped convergent thinking, suggesting that it's better to solve problems in silence. The study was published in the journal PLoS One.
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Happy Music Boosts Brain's Creativity, Study Says

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  • Really? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Because Happy by Pharell makes me want to blow my brains out.

  • I prefer easy listening [] myself

  • Not for me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zifn4b ( 1040588 ) on Thursday September 07, 2017 @09:18AM (#55152791)

    When I'm coding, high energy music is what gets my creative juices flowing. There is more evidence to suggest that what is related to creativity is how much stress you are under. The closer you are are to "fight or flight response" the more resources are being taken away from the cognitive processes that give rise to creativity. I'm reminded of several John Cleese quotes on the subject:

    "If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play."
    "Nothing will stop you being creative so effectively as the fear of making a mistake."
    "Creativity is not a skill, it's a state of mind, being in the open state."

    We are not in open states when we are stressed. Perhaps for some "happy music", whatever that means, helps with getting "into the zone". Just find whatever it is that gets you in the zone and practice mindfulness about getting into that zone and staying there as long as you can.

    • And, for some of us in 1991, "Happy Music" can be Nine Inch Nails' Head like a Hole.

      • by dddux ( 3656447 )
        Agreed, NiN makes some very happy, lovely songs. Joy Division makes me happy as well. ;)
    • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 )

      Your coding is probably not taxing your problem solving skills.

    • Re:Not for me (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sumus Semper Una ( 4203225 ) on Thursday September 07, 2017 @10:41AM (#55153207)

      I definitely experience the same thing - my creativity is best triggered by high energy music

      I kind of wonder whether the real takeaway from the study is supposed to be "listening to music you like helps with creativity." I've certainly found that to be the case when I listen to punk metal (my current musical flavor of choice). And sludge metal helps me when I need to just focus on rote tasks and get into a trance "zone". But I'm sure others would find their creativity or productivity impeded by listening to those genres, so I would never suggest anyone else listen to them to help with tasks unless I know their musical preferences.

      Considering that they had people listen to sad, anxious, and calm (or anxious and calm at the same time somehow? Damnit New Scientist, this is why people use Oxford commas! []) classical music, I'm not sure you can draw conclusions outside that genre. This seems to be more about "happy classical music" having a positive effect on a greater portion of the population than other emotive flavors of classical music. But even that may not hold true for everyone. Maybe it's just that more people have a positive reaction to "happy classical music" than other kinds of classical music, but that the effect is reversed for some percentage of people.

      In short, I find the study interesting, but as usual the magazine article takes the conclusions and runs with them beyond the scope of the actual study.

      • Damnit New Scientist, this is why people use Oxford commas!

        Since you bring up English grammar, I'm going to go ahead and point out a grammatical error in your sentence above. You're missing a comma after the interjection "Damnit." Your sentence should be:

        Damnit, New Scientist, this is why people use Oxford commas!

        • I thought the rule was that you use it after a dependent clause that starts a sentence. Or after an appositive or introductory adverb. Those are the only uses for introductory commas I was aware of that might apply in this case, but if you can point out the style guide rule this breaks then I will consider modifying my grammar.

          • by Optic7 ( 688717 )

            Good question, so I spent a little while looking for the rule that applies. There are so many rules for using commas, some of which don't seem to always be included in purported lists of comma uses. This one, in particular, seems to be the one that applies to your case: []

            Separate the name of the person (or thing) you are addressing from the rest of the sentence with a comma.

            I hope this helps. It helped me get a more solid understanding of one comma use-case.

    • High energy music works for me too, but not because it raises my stress levels. First of all, I'll often be tired and high energy music helps stave this off. Secondly, I find my mind will often want a distraction. Instead of visiting web sites or playing games, the music gives my brain something it can shift focus to for a second or two before going back to the task at hand - without running the risk that a simple Wikipedia lookup will turn into hours of wasting time.

    • When I'm coding, high energy alcohol is what gets my creative juices flowing.


  • ...the trolls will have found some very creative ways to make this about the threats from feminist, liberals and BigScience(tm).
    They must be listening to some extremely happy music.

  • I listen to it most of the time when I'm coding.
  • Brought to you by Captain Obvious Research Institute.

    • by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Thursday September 07, 2017 @10:05AM (#55153029)

      I wouldn't say it's necessarily "obvious" that happy music makes you happy.

      I remember as a teenage being depressed over the break up with a girl friend, flipping through radio stations and temporarily stopping on an oldies station. The Cascades "Listen to the Rhythm of The Falling Rain" came on, arguably, a sad song.

      I sang along, and like a light switch, started feeling better. Over the years I've found certain sad songs actually cheer me up and make me happy when I'm sad. When I'm sad, happy songs irritate me.

      • If you're heartbroken, even filing your taxes can make you feel better. How about people who aren't flooded with emotions from a break-up?
  • by TimMD909 ( 260285 ) on Thursday September 07, 2017 @09:56AM (#55152971) Homepage
    Now that we know happy music makes people more productive, how will this get incorporated into the open office? I'm assuming my looping Journey "Don't Stop Believing" over and over.
  • I refuse to believe that any person can possible stand sappy "we're all so happy everything is wonderful"-type fake-positive dreck for any length of time without tearing their ears off.

  • No boss, I'm not uncreative and incompetent. I just spend too much time listening to Scandinavian death metal. I'm an addict. Don't judge me.

  • What happens if you listen to John Cage's 4:33? Do you get both benefits?

  • I'm thinking this is less about mood and more about the idea that inspiration = distraction.

    When you're trying to solve a problem - no, not the "motions" of making shit reference each other in your everyday code - but solve a fucking problem like mentally predicting constellation movements across various time lengths, you don't want light bulbs, you just want to chew very hard in a narrow way and nowhere else.

    When you DO want light bulbs (that can include code (design in particular, picking your maneuvers))

  • Does that mean I should try listening to "Barbie Girl" when I'm making industrial music? ;) Anyway, how's that supposed to work for musicians to make them more creative? It's really hard to make your own music while listening to some other music.
  • Well, this study might have a point, but what about me? I listen to music all day, when I work, when I study, when I take a shower etc. I haven't noticed any changes in my creativity though. I view music more as a distraction to be honest. The only thing which actually helps me with my creativity is when I sit still and have no other distractions. Meditation [] also helps me a lot. The only problem I have with meditation is: it allows you to control your thoughts, so I guess you become more focused over time a

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp