Music has the power to affect our emotions in both positive and negative ways. These effects usually come quickly, and are sometimes uncontrollable.
Research on the psychology of memory and emotion shows that events of high emotional charge stimulate the brain to take a ‘recording’ (so to speak), of all the other things that were going on at that specific moment.
Our brain connects sounds, smells, and feelings to the event that has occurred and links them together. In the event of a tragedy, if there is a specific sound or musical background, the individuals involved may find themselves experiencing the feelings associated with their tragedy every time they hear that specific sound.
This explains why certain songs create emotions and why the songs we associate with funerals and death may create sadness. These emotions sometimes even escalate to a physical response, such as sobbing.
Because the brain makes the connection between song and emotion, the same song will not affect everyone in the same way. The song that may create sadness for one, could give another person the strength they need to help them through the grieving process.
TAPS, for example, is a song commonly played by a single bugle during a military funeral. For many, this song creates a sad emotion. But for others, their brain may have linked this song to the memory of how courageous their loved one was, and the song may give them a sense of pride, or comfort.
There is something about music that evolves over time, as do emotions. When we hear a song we re-live the emotional sequence that happened when we heard it previously. When you start looking at the songs you listen to, pay attention to your emotions.
You might be surprised at how songs effect your emotions. Even more interesting is determining why a song affects you a certain way. Think of the songs you heard at the most recent funeral you attended? Is there an emotional response to any of those songs?