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'Happy music' good for soul, work

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-09-13 08:23

SYDNEY - Listening to happy music will generally improve your mood, but according to a new study released on Thursday, it can also help you function more creatively at work. The report found that creativity levels were higher for people who listened to "happy music" while completing divergent creativity tasks - tasks that have multiple possible solutions.

While compared with those who listened to silence, or tasks that require a simple "correct" answer, no difference was noted with convergent creativity.

With the emergence of technology being a driver of the current global innovation race, a greater understanding of the role of music on our creativity is important, particularly when working, says Sam Ferguson from the University of Technology Sydney, one of the authors on the study.

"If we are trying to be more creative, it is good to have a working understanding of the role of our environment - and one of the big things we can do with environment is to add, or subtract, music," he says.

For the study, four pieces of music were selected that were categorized by the different moods they are said to evoke - calm, happy, sad, anxious - with all the pieces being classical, such as British composer Gustav Holst's The Planets: Mars, or Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi's The Four Seasons.

This was done in order to be able to compare the results of the study to previous studies, but Ferguson says that he was keen to explore other forms of music, including more current music, to see what potential impact it might have on brain function.

"There are two elements to that, you want to know what modern music does - the other element is familiarity with the music, and liking the music is usually because it works better for you, and makes you happier," he says.

"That's an element that needs to be considered, and other research has shown that if you're talking about other effects that music has - familiarity and preference actually play a big role."

However, Ferguson points out that the key to using music as a creative tool may lie more solely with the individual, and stresses that not all "happy music" will make you more creative.

"There are lots of studies to suggest that some music would be more distracting than anything, so this can't be taken as a wide-ranging thing," Ferguson says. 

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