Music is powerful; it can make you think, make you feel, make you dance, even make you fall in love. Whether you’re playing or listening, there’s a lot music can do to shift your perception and change your experience; sufficient experience with music can even change your worldview, your way of hearing and understanding the world. The wide array of experiences that come from listening to music can seem hard to categorize, so a researcher in Finland decided to make it easier. They constructed a scale to evaluate how people use music to regulate their mood, the aptly titled Music in Mood Regulation Scale (MMR).
The scale was targeted towards adolescents, who will quite often listen to music as a technique for regulating their emotions; as such, the survey for developing the scale was taken by people from 10-20 years old, with a mean range of 15.01. The scale was made to target listeners of music, specifically because not everyone plays an instrument or sings; that said, when you’re playing a piece, you usually feel it. There’s no scale for playing music to regulate mood that I’m aware of, but it feels like this scale should apply to a piece you’re playing for catharsis, as well.
The scale posits 7 different categories for the use of music in regulating emotion. The first is Entertainment, which is pretty self-explanatory; the use of music to create, prolong or enhance positive feelings. The second, Revival, is familiar to anyone who uses a jam to get pumped up before work; it’s the use of music to get energy when you’re stressed or tired. The third, Strong Sensation, is familiar to listeners and musicians alike; it’s the use of music to create an intense emotion, anything from transcendent euphoria to deep sadness. The fourth, Mental Work, is the use of music to provoke thinking, or to create a space suitable for contemplation.
The four categories discussed above all relate to using music to create new emotional states or awareness; the last three are for coping with negative emotion. The first is Diversion, which is quite simply the use of music to distract yourself from unpleasant thoughts with pleasant music. The second is Solace, the ability to find something akin to empathy for negative feelings within music, and by doing so, finding comfort and acceptance. The last is Discharge, the release of negative emotions by listening or singing along to music that expresses those same negative emotions.
This scale on iitsown doesn’t necessarily tell us anything we didn’t know about how people use music to regulate emotion, but by its development, gives us a framework through which to evaluate which listening techniques are most useful, which could allow researchers to develop studies for music therapy while all using the same basic scale. At Academy of Music, we offer in home music lessons; given the power of learning music to train both the emotional and rational mind, and the comfort learners find in their home, it’s a method we wholeheartedly endorse.