Feelings, Music, Color: It's All Connected, Dude

music embed 1photographed by ingalls photo; set design by marie-yan morvan
You know how it goes: You hear a song and feel all sorts of feelings, evoked by everything from the rhythm and the pace to the lyrics. The same thing can happen when you see a certain color. Think you love blue and gray in your bedroom just because? Not likely. No need for Xanax — they are legit soothing.
Advertisement
University of California, Berkeley, researcher Stephen Palmer recently published a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which showed that the type of Bach music participants listened to affected which colors they chose afterward. “Faster music in the major mode, produced color choices that were more saturated, lighter, and yellower," the study concludes. "Whereas slower, minor music produced the opposite pattern — choices that were unsaturated, darker, and bluer.” The colors were chosen from the whole ROYGBIV spectrum, including red, orange, yellow, chartreuse, green, cyan, blue, and purple (all of which had four values of brightness and vividness) as well as the basics — white, black, and a few versions of gray.
“While we did not use brain scans to know exactly what neural events are occurring that made them choose certain colors for certain music more than others, it seems likely that the tempo-to-emotion link is related to patterns of motor behavior,” says Palmer. Essentially, faster tempos could be associated with more positive emotions (happiness) and slower tempos with less positive emotions (sadness). All this basically mirrors real life: “People are typically more energetic when happy — they skip and dance when ecstatic — and more lethargic when sad,” he says. Although, he notes that the real why is still very much a mystery in the scientific arena. Even though the differences in notes are often seemingly insignificant, they can drastically alter someone’s emotions.
Want to test it out? Try out our non-Bach tunes (that have emotion-evoking lyrics, too, unlike in the study) just for fun! Play any of them as you get dressed today, and point to the colors that are the most consistent with the tunes.
music embed 2photographed by ingalls photo; set design by marie-yan morvan
Don't Worry, Be Happy
Advertisement
"Somebody That I Used To Know" by Gotye
"Against All Odds" by The Postal Service
"Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers
“Darkness and blue could be associated with twilight and night, which tends to make people feel withdrawn and sad,” explains Palmer. “And the cones in our retina are least sensitive to blue light.”
Red Hot
"For Whom The Bell Tolls" by Metallica
"Killing in the Name" by Rage Against the Machine
"Bullet With Butterfly Wings" by Smashing Pumpkins
“Anger may be linked to red, because people's faces get red when they get angry (and blood rushes to their faces),” says Palmer.
Advertisement
Keep Calm and Listen On
"Ho Hey" by The Lumineers
"Spend the Night" by Deer Tick
"Cherokee" by Cat Power
“A feeling of calm is often tied to more subdued (muted) colors, probably because they are less energetic colors,” says Palmer.
Advertisement

More from Wellness

In a move so fitting that we can’t believe we haven’t seen it already, ASOS teamed up with running shoe company Saucony to create glitter running ...
Ragazzi mi state seguendo in tanti e vorrei ringraziarvi e scusarmi se non riesco a rispondere a tutti...vi proprio ho una foto che mi ricorda tutte ...
A version of this story originally appeared on Shape. When it comes to female pleasure, there's enough misinformation out there to fill a book. One of ...
When it comes to rock climbing, an all-or-nothing approach is key
What a week it’s been, stargazers. First, we were told our Zodiac signs have changed, that there's now a 13th sign, and that apparently everything we ...
No one goes through life trying to be a horrible person. But sometimes, it's a challenge to go that extra mile (or even just a few steps) out of your way...
Living with anxiety can feel like a constant battle. You have to stay alert to catch anxiety creeping up on you, and it can turn into an all-day fight to ...
(Paid Content) In this age of label-aversion, hookup apps, and social-media flirtation (nothing says romance like a DM, right?), few would disagree that ...
If you ask us, no workout is complete without a killer playlist — and running is no exception. Whether you prefer the trails or the treadmill, the right ...
This article was originally published on December 18, 2015. According to stereotypes, men are the sexually voracious cheaters and women are the ...
We're great fans of accessorizing in the bedroom. Au naturel stimulation is wonderful, but sex toys can do things that people just can't. The sex toy ...
You probably already know that Donald Trump has a record of making sexist comments. But a new ad from Hillary Clinton's campaign powerfully highlights ...
Update: Kopp's original Facebook post has been removed, and, as Shape reports, the chances of contracting an infection so severe that draining is ...
Even as the sex toy market continues to expand, there remain a few vital "firsts" for the industry to tackle. This week, with the arrival of the Buck-Off...