AbstractAnxiety is an emotional problemthat is crippling our society in various ways. Hence, music has been proven tobe able to help calm minds and ease their tension. Using past researches onmusic therapy and different genres of music, this study is conducted to findout whether classical music is better at contributing to ease anxiety than popmusic even though both genres of music have been proven to be useful in solvingpart of this social dilemma.
As such, two lists of questionnaires and two kindsof music clips were prepared and 40 participants were involved in the survey-cum-experiment.A significant difference was discovered as the results were collected, provingthat classical music is better at improving positive moods and decreasingnegative moods whereas pop music has an inconsistent impact on the participantsmaking the participants feel “confused”, “unsteady” and “worried”. This meansthat classical music is consistent in stabilizing an individual’s mood andanxiety, as the participants feel “in control” rather than feeling disturbedand prone to have a panic attack anytime soon. In short, this review is adeeper study into different genres of music and their effects on a person’sanxiety levels, whether they might have a positive or negative outcome on thisissue. 1.0 Introduction1.1 Background of studyMusic is globally known to everyonethat has the ability to hear and listen.
Dating back into the ancient timeswhere music can be heard only within royal families, philosophers, and then inceremonies and festivals, there are so many different genres of music present whichare used for various occasions and functions. Some of the famous music periodsare Baroque, Classical, and Romantic period. Until today, these musical piecesare still passed on to the next generations to cherish and enjoy.Present knowledge and researchabout music shows a wide range of benefits and disadvantages as well.
Studieshave shown that people who listen to calm and serene music such as infamousclassical pieces of Mozart and Haydn, are able to relax and increaseproductivity performances in workplaces for adults, in classes for students.Furthermore, music with meaningful and deep lyrics are able to help ease aperson’s mind and move on from the dark memories in his or her life. On theother hand, listening to music with explicit lyrics with references to drugsand sex are the negative side of modern music, causing much riots within thesociety and worldwide.Numerous studies have beenconducted to prove that different genres of music are able to affect a persondifferently and more specifically, their anxiety levels might vary from eachsong they listen to. Anxiety is nothing peculiar in Malaysia, as every 3 out of10 adults aged 16 years and above is prone to have mental health issues, andanxiety is one of them, including social phobia, post-traumatic stressdisorder, OCD and many others more.
Many at times, music is able to help bringa positive effect to decrease anxiety levels, whereas there are music whichmight increase an individual’s anxiety levels with negative feelings.Meanwhile, there are opinions that all music genres have the same impact onanxiety levels, indifferent from one and the other.1.2Statement of ProblemApart from the studies conducted onwhether music in general helps to decrease anxiety levels, there is an urgentneed to determine whether different genres of music would have differenteffects on an individual’s anxiety level and would the results be similarwithout any changes, or would they differ. Random music are played in various locationsbut they did not thoroughly inspect whether these music are suitable or notbeing played in locations like shopping malls which are usually crowded andcauses crowd anxiety among individuals.1.
3Purpose of studyMalaysians are exposed to many anxioussituations whether or not it is environmental factored or biological factored,and there is little to no cure to this issue. Some examples of anxiety-triggeringsituations are like OCDs, crowded places, or even examination periods. It isvery serious as anxiety can lead to other mental health issues like depressionand may cause indescribable results like suicidal thoughts just because theyfeel odd and misplaced during certain times. Hence, many developed countrieshave tried to use music as a cure, finding out if there is a suitable genre foreach kind of anxious situations. 1.4Research Questions1.
Would different genres of music have differenteffects on anxiety levels?2. What is the best genre of music to reduce or easeanxiety? 1.5Significance of Study Itis important that this study be conducted because anxiety is not something tobe taken lightly of and it is aggravated whenever someone neglects this problemor simply think that it is not something of significant. In fact, this study isconducted among college students as a beginning contribution in aiding theproblem. This research is conducted in hope that Sunway University Collegewould recognize music therapy as a legitimate healing process and include thecontents of this subject into the syllabus of the pre-university courses. Thisstudy is important that students would indulge in music to help ease anxietyand to prevent them from choosing a wrong genre for anxious situations whichmight result in severe mental disturbance and feeling of annoyance. 2.0Literature Review 2.
1 Music and emotionIt is undeniable that music is ableto bring out emotions and this is proven in many past researches. Music hasbeen proven to be a form of therapy for all to find peace and relaxation.Amongst them, Zentner, Grandjean & Scherer (2008), has proved that thereare powerful emotional effects of music that can effect infants as young as 4months of age. In their research, they have stated the differences betweenemotions as perceived in the music, emotions as induced by the music, and alsoeveryday emotions without music.
With participants of undergraduate psychologystudents at the University of Geneva presented with five music genres consistingof classical, jazz, pop and rock, Latin American, and techno. Since the genresare ranged as such, the tempo, articulation and lyrical content of a particularsong or music piece is also very important in determining what kind of emotionsare prone to be produced or can be reported from. Furthermore, Rea, MacDonald& Carnes (2010) quoted “people may listen to a certain genre of music toseek a more positive mood, the listener may seek understanding from musicsimilar to their mood, or they may listen to music they know will enhance theirmisery” (p. 1). According to McCraty, Choplin, Atkinson & Tomasino (1998),music has the ability to facilitate anaesthesia during pregnancy and labor,reducing stress and discomfort related to surgery or dental procedures, andeven heart attacks recovery.
In addition, different genres of music havedifferent effects on hormones and even the autonomic nervous system. All inall, there is a range of emotions caused by music from positive to negative,from lively and energetic, calm and collected, to sad and gloomy. Moreover,they have stated that a preferred genre would most probably evoke positiveemotions. Walworth (2003) attempted to discover the many influences music has onhuman body and as a result, music has effected an individual in themeasurements of physiological, affective, behavioural and psychologicalchanges.
She also argued that “when selecting music for patients and clients,the preference of the patient/ client needs to be considered” (p. 4). Hence, itis no doubt that music is able to effect a person’s mood positively andnegatively with a wide range of music genres available. 2.1.1 Classical music and emotionClassical music is a genre wherethe musical pieces are without any lyrical content and are composed andperformed by professional musicians. Rea et al.
(2010) made a hypothesis thatclassical would report more positive moods, and they used W.A.Mozart’s ViolinConcerto No. 5 in A, 2nd Movement, apiece of 10 minutes length. After the experiment, participants reportedemotions like steadiness, relaxation and calmness which are positive feelings.Zentner et al. (2008) stated that certain emotions appeared to be felt ratherthan perceived for classical music.
The range of classical music was narroweddown because they were afraid that baroque and modern classical music “wouldlead to excessively heterogeneous categories of reference” (p. 498). McCraty etal. (1998) have stated that classical music has been used in many occasionsproving that it can reduce anxiety and depression. In general, classical musichas a great reduction on negative emotions’ scale albeit it is not quiteenjoyable for the teenage subgroup hence classical music did not have much effectin this particular subgroup. Walworth (2003) further emphasized that music slowin tempo and without lyrics are the best to reduce anxiety and increaserelaxation. In her research, she referred to Elliot (1994) stating that even ifan anxiety patient does not choose a preferred music, light instrumentalclassical music is able to reduce anxiety.2.
1.2Rock music and emotionRock music is a genre of pop musicand has vocals and electric instruments in them. Hill (n.
d.) has stated in hisjournal article that some genres of music causes mostly negative impact such asviolence and aggressiveness. Most of these songs contain explicit context likesex, money, drugs, rape, gender degrading and much more. For the researchabove, these music are separated into Mae (soft rock), Manson (hard rock) and acontrol group which does not listen to any kind of music while filling in theself-evaluation test. As a result, Mae was able to produce a positive responsetowards stress and pressure, whereas Manson produced a stressful environmentcontributing to negative emotions like anger and anxiety. Additionally, thevolunteers in the test absolutely did not enjoy hard rock as they mostlycontain explicit and undesired lyrics and rapping. Rea et al. (2010) on theother hand have made a positive correlation between energetic and rhythmicmusical preferences and reports of relaxation.
Overall, they concluded thatpop/rock music would bring about positive emotions like comfortableness anddecrease in tension, worry and confusion. 2.1.3 Jazz music and emotion Famousfor blue notes, syncopation, improvisation, jazz music is a genre that requiresintense technical skills and musical knowledge from the musicians.
McPherson,Gonzalez, Rankin & Limb (2014) argued that musical emotions cannot simplybe explained with simplistic correlations such as a major key would cause ahappy feeling whereas a minor key would do the opposite. Focusing on thelistening surveys, there was a slight greater different for positiveimprovisations than negative and ambiguous improvisations. Zentner et al.(2008) has stated that complex and reflective emotions were mostly experiencedby classical and jazz music listeners, finding a peaceful and relaxed scenario.Jazz is a slightly lesser heterogeneous genre as compared to classical, forjazz pieces are made mostly of improvisation of blue scales. 2.2Preference of genre versus preference of song on anxiety Walworth(2003) carried out an experiment to investigate whether a particular genre or aparticular song preferred by the subjects would have a better outcome on theirexperimentally induced anxiety levels. With the thought of a music genre beingtoo broad in mind, the results were surprising as there is no differencebetween the 2 experimented groups at all.
In short, there is little to nodifference between preferred genre of music and preferred song selection as thesong would surely fit into the genre categorized in.2.3Music genre and anxiety levelsAs music is able to both positivelyand negatively affect an individual’s mood, a statement indicating thatclassical music genre is sure to improve a person’s emotions, stability andsense of relaxation and serenity. McCraty et al. (1998) was determined in theirresearch that classical music has the strength to reduce the negative scales intheir questionnaire, choosing Mozart’s Six German Dances (Nos.
1-3), K 509, andPiano Concerto in D minor, K 466; 1st movement as to represent thesaid genre. On the other hand, rock music and pop music has mixed results towardsanxiety. Hill (n.d.
) in his research separated soft rock and hard rock, andalong with Rea et al. (2010) in their research proving that heavy metallisteners for their experiment conducted showed them mentally strained and didnot show any positive feelings of pleasantness. For jazz music genre, theresearch conducted by McPherson et al.
(2014) resulted in an unclearconclusion. It is stated in their research that the improvisations are sorandom yet distinct with each other, and any kind of emotions whether it ispositive, negative or neutral are able to be reported when listeners listen tojazz music. However, they did prove that there is no correlation between majorkeys producing positive feelings and minor keys causing uneasiness towardstheir subjects. Therefore, only classical music and rock music, separated intosoft and hard, are chosen for the current research on finding out whetherdifferent genres of music would have different effects on an individual’sanxiety levels after listening to the song chosen or music piece selected,after giving the subjects a situation, more specifically a crowded placescenario and a traffic jam scenario to help raise anxiety levels. 3.
0Methods3.1DesignTwo self-evaluation surveys wouldbe created to measure anxiety levels of the subjects on the current researchand after listening to the music given. The surveys would be conducted onlineby the researcher consisting of questions such as “I dislike crowded places”and “I am not fond of shopping malls on weekends”, whereas the 2ndsurvey is taken from STAI Form Y-1 developed by Spielberger (1983) where a listof questionnaires is to be answered by the subjects after listening to themusic given, either a classical genre or pop genre. One of the songs selected wouldbe given to the subject to listen, and then fill up the 2nd surveyafter that.
All the questions are converted into Google Forms and sent via URLlink. The results are then collected and analysed.3.2ParticipantsThe participants are Sunway Collegestudents (SFP, AUSMAT, MUFY, CIMP, A-Levels and CAT/CFAB) aged between 17 to 20years old. There are 2 groups in this experiment, consisting of 5 males and 5females each group, a total of 20subjects to avoid any partiality. This groupof subjects are chosen because this experiment is conducted in Sunway Collegeand they are the most accessible to the researcher. 3.3InstrumentsPre-test anxietyquestionnaire (Google Form)Post-testanxiety questionnaire (STAI Form Y-1 via Google Form)Music pieceschosen:Classical genre: Lágrimaby Francisco TárregaPop genre: Complicatedby Avril Lavigne 4.
0Results and Discussion Table 4.1 Theanalysis of the entire sample will be reported first, followed by the analysesof the first group and second group of the final part of the experiment. For this experiment, the targetedpopulation were teenagers aged between 17 years old and 20 years old becausemost teenagers are exposed to music every day, through the radio, mp3 players,television, and the internet like Spotify and JOOX. Because of that, they arethe best to be experimented with since they are already exposed to music intheir everyday lives. The following results do contradict one of the pastresearch by McCraty et al.
(1998), because this age group of participants wereaffected by classical music and the response did proved the hypothesis thatclassical music is better than pop music in easing anxiety and helps a personrelax. Table 4.2 After the data is collected, theresults for the first part of the experiment is as shown in Table 4.1,recording how severely anxious can the participants be in the listed situationsin the questionnaire. According to the data, there is more than 50% ofparticipants out of 40 pre-university students in Sunway University Collegethat states that they are mildly anxious to extremely anxious in thosesituations, such as “First day in Sunway University College”. There is morethan 50% of them who scored 3 to 5 which means that only a few percentage isnot anxious in those situations, approximately five to ten percent (about 6participants) stating so. This shows that most of the participants in thisexperiment is quite anxious easily and they have slight anxiety disorder.
For the second part of theexperiment, participants of Group 1 (classical music clip) are reported to bepositively affected, almost all positive feelings have an average of 3.5 scoreand above out of 4 whereas negative feelings have 1.35 and below as listed inTable 4.
2. Classical music has been proven in many other researches that itreduces anxiety (McCraty et al., 1998).
On the other hand, participants ofGroup 2 (popular music clip) have a 3.45 score maximum for positive feelings,whereas negative feelings are as high as 1.9. Although both types of music wereproven to increase comfortableness, relaxation and calmness, decrease oftension, worry, and confusion (Rea et al., 2010), there is a distinctdifference between the results analysed.
On average, after listening toclassical music, participants have 3.655 score, a very close figure to 4 albeit4 is impossible. The standard deviation of these scores are 0.0879 which meansthat they are not dispersed at all.
However, listening to pop music,participants of Group 2 have an average of 2.635 score, and a 0.2811 standarddeviation a little bit more than Group 1 only. If score 3.45 (Q20) was takenout of the data for Group 2, the standard deviation would only be 0.
0762 whichmeans that data 3.45 might be an outlier. Table 4.
2 Figure 4.3 It can be seen in Figure 4.3 that both groups havebetter scores on the positive feelings than negative feelings. The range of thecombined groups for positive feelings is 2.4 to 3.85. When the participantslisten to the music clips there is an obvious positive outcome for most ofthem, which is why the graph is such.
As the scale is 1 to 4, score 1 meansthat they do not feel those particular feelings which is why negative feelings(Red and Yellow lines) are closer to 1. However, the distinct difference of thetwo lines of negative feelings can be seen. Listening to classical music can beso soothing and relaxing that the participants do not even feel anything butpositivity in the minds, such as calmness and steadiness which is why thescores have only a maximum of 1.35/4 for Group 1. AsWalworth (2003) stated that music that is slow in tempo and without lyrics are the best to help ease anxiety and make a personrelax, this is quite the reason why classical music had a higher positive scoreand a lower negative score as compared to pop music. On a side note, it ispossible that since classical music does not have percussions included, thesounds and noises from those instruments are not present to have anyinterruption on the relaxation of the mind but all pop music have percussionsand electronic sounds nowadays. 5.
0ConclusionThis study was able to prove thatclassical music is better at relieving anxiety in anxious situations thanpopular music, giving more stability, calmness, comfortableness, and lessconfusion, worries and uneasiness. However, limitations were present in thisstudy, namely this study was conducted on a small subgroup of the society agedbetween 17 to 20 years old. It may or may not be the same if the sample spacewas broaden to other generations too. The level of anxiety in the samescenarios might not be the same as well because the study was not conducted onthem. Additionally, the music clips were only 3 minutes long each and if theduration was changed, the findings of a different study might not be the sameas the current research. Hence, deeper and further study should be conductedupon this area because music is already proven to be helpful in stressful andanxious scenarios and classical music is better than pop music in doing so, butthere are more genres of music that were not included in this study and thosegenres should be looked into and made into another study as well to find thebest solution in reducing anxiety in our everyday lives. Perhaps the next genreof music to be looked into should be EDM (Electronic Dance Music), seeing asEDM is already an influence in every song on the radio in this century. Certainly, this topic is study is just asinteresting as it seems and the findings of the future research will never bein vain because it will definitely contribute in dealing with the issue stated.
6.0ReferencesRea, C., MacDonald, P., & Carnes, G. (2010).
Listening to classical, pop, and metal music: An investigation of mood. EmporiaState Research Studies, Vol. 46, no.1, 1-3.
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, Choplin, B. B.,Atkinson, M., & Tomasino, D. (1998). The effects of different types ofmusic on mood, tension, and mental clarity. Alternative therapies inhealth and medicine, Vol. 4, no.
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(2014). The Role of Emotion in MusicalImprovisation: An Analysis of Structural Features. PLoS One 9,e105144. Walworth, D. D. (2003). The effectof preferred music genre selection versus preferred song selection onexperimentally induced anxiety levels.
Journal of Music Therapy, Vol.XL. (1), 2-14. Zentner, M., Grandjean, D., &Scherer, K. R. (2008).
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