Consolation through music: A survey study


Even though music is widely used as a source of solace, the question as to how and why music offers consolation remains largely unexplored. The aims of the present study are as follows: (a) to compare listening to music versus other self-soothing behaviors, (b) to explore when music is used as a means for solace, (c) to identify aspects of music that are important for providing solace, and (d) to explore behavior while listening to consoling music. Participants completed an internet survey distributed through the websites of Dutch National Radio 2 and Radio 4 (N = 445). The survey consisted of the Geneva Emotion and Music Scale (GEMS), the solace-scale from the Music in Mood Regulation questionnaire (MMR), questions concerning means of solace, situations requiring comfort, song aspects, and feelings and activities during music listening. The main findings indicate that: (1) music is the most important source of consolation compared with other soothing behaviors, (2) situations in which people have experienced loss and sadness are the primary situations in which music offers solace, (3) consoling music induces a feeling of being moved and a mixture of both positive and sad emotions; the most important aspects of a song for soothing purposes are the music itself and the lyrics, and (4) music for comfort is listened to predominately in solitude, as the sole activity. On the basis of these findings, a characterization of listening to consoling music is compiled. Behavior and song aspects are discussed in terms of how and why they are helpful in providing solace.



consolation, music


Hanser, W. E. et al. (2016) Consolation through music: A survey study. Musicae Scientiae, 20 (1), pp. 122-137


Research Institute