But experts are now looking into what it is about the music itself that has an effect on emotions. And in the future, they say, doctors could prescribe music to treat mood disorders such as depression, or even to help relieve pain.
The ongoing research is being carried out at Glasgow Caledonian University and led by audio engineering specialist Dr Don Knox.
"The impact of a piece of music on a person goes so much further than thinking that a fast tempo can lift a mood and a slow one can bring it down," says Dr Knox. "Music expresses emotion as a result of many factors, including tone, structure and other technical characteristics."
The tune-tapping researchers will be examining things such as rhythm patterns, melodic range, music intervals and pitch. But they will be looking at the impact of lyrics too, with the ultimate aim being the development of a model that explains music's ability to communicate emotions.
If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Some online music stores, for instance, already tag music according to whether it's happy or sad, explains Dr Knox.
True enough. So perhaps in the future, instead of antidepressants your doctor will prescribe a dose of Lily Allen?
What's your favourite happy tune? And what piece of music is guaranteed to bring your mood right down?
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