Medical Mysteries of Music

Published on March 14th, 2019 | by Alan Cross

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New study says that death metal inspires joy.

If you’re not acquainted with metal and metal culture, you might find that headline a little hard to believe. But if you know anything about metalheads, you won’t be surprised at all.

No, metal–and it doesn’t matter what flavour we’re talking about–does not inspire violence, sadness, depression, or any other harmful behavior. And fans are not desensitized to things like violence, either. Just the opposite, in fact..

The music lab at Macquarie University used a bunch of extreme metal such as this…

…as part of a psychological test and came to the following conclusion. I quote from the BBC:

“[Death metal] fans are nice people,” said Prof Bill Thompson, from the Australian university, which is based in Sydney. “They’re not going to go out and hurt someone.”

And this isn’t some quickie research project done for shits and giggles. It’s part of a decades-long look at the emotional effects of music. Another quote.

“‘Many people enjoy sad music, and that’s a bit of a paradox – why would we want to make ourselves sad’ he asked. ‘The same can be said of music with aggressive or violent themes. For us, it’s a psychological paradox – so [as scientists] we’re curious, and at the same time we recognise that violence in the media is a socially significant issue.'”

You can read more about how the study was conducted here.




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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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