Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Songs That Make Me Happy

One of the early benefits of the Happiness Journal has been my realization of how much music can affect my mood. Virtually every time I feel exuberant, a particular song has been the immediate cue. Certainly there are important, underlying causes, be they chemical or sociological or what have you, but it's fascinating to know that music is the final switch that can turn on a spell of contentedness.

Here are my top happy-inducing songs of the last couple weeks:
The National, "Fake Empire"

Stars, "Ageless Beauty (the Most Serene Republic remix)"

LCD Soundsystem, "Someone Great"

Dianogah, "Indie Rock Spock Ears"

A couple of interesting and related points:
  • Unhappiness spells are rarely triggered by music. This isn't a finding from the last few weeks, because I've been pretty pleased with the world lately, but just thinking back on it, whenever I'm feeling down, it hasn't been triggered by music. In fact, usually during down periods I don't even feel like listening to music at all.
  • The effect of these songs are strong for a short while, ranging from a day to about a week, but they inevitably fade and become just another song. Even so, I'm excited about the idea of creating a Happy Mix, with all the happy-inducing songs of a certain period, to see the effect of listening to them all at once (albeit after the majority of their magic has worn off). Will it be a concentrated blast of sonic pleasure?
  • Since we're digitizing our world, the mathematical properties of every song (tempo, etc.) will one day be easily available in some giant, searchable database. (Think of the Music Genome Project.) And since my economics degree taught me (forced me?) to believe in the power of numbers and, especially, representative sampling, eventually I'll have a large enough sample of happy-inducing songs to hone in on the likely musical properties of other potentially happy-inducing songs. I guess it's the same idea as the one behind those new recommendation radio sites like Last.FM and Pandora, but with a more specific purpose.

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