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Sound of Happiness! by Karen Little

Happy, bouncing dog by Karen Little of Sketch-Views

There actually is a science behind things we can do to trigger happiness, and that science is found in music theory.

Yes, singing happy lyrics might make you happy, but it's what is behind the lyrics that do the work.

According to the article, "The secret behind what makes a song happy," the cords used in music can immediately trigger feelings of happiness or sadness in the listener.

The major cords, often described as the "happy cords," are sounds created by three combined notes, such as C-, F-, and G-major. There is, however, one cord in particular that is particularly linked to happy music.

According to the Royal Society Open Science, using a data set ranking 10,222 common words as being positive or negative, they discovered that music backed by minor cords were the most negative.

Major cords, however, were associated with the most upbeat messages. The happiest sounds were produced by three notes, plus an additional note on top were the most positive of all. These were produced by three types, a Minor 7th, Major 7th, and dominant 7th, which have a higher valance than major chords.

If you don't understand how cords are constructed, let alone sound, listen to YouTube examples as listed in the links.

Music tempo also contributes to feelings of happiness, with a fast tempo of 150 beats per minute hitting a high spot. Average pop songs have a tempo of 116 beats per minute, so listening to popular music doesn't assure spontaneous joyfulness.

Dance and festival music that combine the right cords and beats put smiles on our faces and encourage our feet to get moving. Examples include Honkytonk/Ragtime Piano, Jigs and Reels, New Orleans Marches, Calliope (circus), Country Fiddle Dance, many Ukulele numbers, Whistling, March/Cadences, high-pitch Flute and Piccolo numbers, and Flamenco Guitar.

Feeling down? Listening to tunes designed to lift mood might prove to be more helpful than a stiff drink, pills, or therapy. As singing feeds into a story line, for pure "mood lifting music," consider melodies without it.

Also examine your current play list. If you are feeling blue, it's possible that your favorite genres are actually depressing your mood without you realizing it.


There is a lot of scientific information on the web about music and mood, with specific tips on how to identify and create uplifting toons. Check YouTube to hear examples of cord use and the happiest cords used in music.

To listen different genres in search of upbeat moods, search YouTube with a phrase like "Example of X music" with X referring to:

For contrast, you can also listen to music that triggers sadness. Slow New Orleans Funeral Procession music can be extremely sad, as are religious numbers that serve the same purpose. And let's not get started on Taps, which always makes me cry (as do some marching cadences).

While the video, "Is this the saddest beat ever?" might not feature the most downbeat sounds in the world, it is peppered with depressing thoughts and will definitely not inspire you to dance.

by Sketch-Views with Karen Little


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