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How music plays your emotions

The science of why you love sad music

What makes music sad, and what draws us to it?

Those are the questions that interest David Huron, a professor at The Ohio State University who studies how music evokes emotion in listeners. Huron, who worked for several years as a composer before turning to research, works in the university’s School of Music and its Center for Cognitive and Brain Sciences. His research methods include perceptual and cognitive experiments, simulation and modeling and even the body’s physiological response via the endocrine system.

Here, he talks about the qualities of sad music, its popularity with listeners and what compels us to enjoy it.