It's not surprising that music helps elicit the emotions necessary to cope with a negative situation. We know that music has interesting effects on the brain. It may seem counter-intuitive, but sad music can actually make you feel better.
Photo by Mike Higgott
A recent paper published in PLoS ONE suggests that sad, slow-tempo, music could elicit nostalgia, peacefulness and tenderness. Researchers surveyed close to 800 participants on their feelings after listening to sad music, and found that most people actually feel consoled when they hear it, especially during periods of other emotional distress. Participants also felt that sad music inspired their imaginations, and made them feel nostalgic for days gone by. In fact, most of the study's participants reported that listening to sad music, even during times of distress, made them feel better, not worse.
Sad music can also help regulate negative moods and emotions. The researchers followed up their survey on sad music with another on happier music, and found that unlike listening to sad music, those feelings of empathy and consolation didn't manifest. Another study published in Psychology of Music corroborates this, and suggests that adolescents use music to regulate their moods.