Coping Strategies of the Musical Kind

Wednesday 2nd September 2020

The iso-moodic principle & the mood wheel

Iso-moodic principle


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According to the principles of music therapy you can change your mood, as well as calm your body, by listening to a certain number of songs in a certain order or sequence, so as to transport you, step by step, into whichever mood you want to go to.

Iso-moodic principle is “a technique by which music is matched with the mood, then gradually altered to affect the desired mood state. This technique can also be used to affect physiological responses such as heart rate and blood pressure.” William B. Davis, Kate E. Gfeller, Michael Thaut, authors of An Introduction to Music Therapy.

To some people this idea may seem somewhat counter-intuitive. They may ask, “‘If I’m in a bad mood and I want cheering up, why would I want to play a song that is miserable? Why not play something that is happy?” To which the answer would be: playing a happy song when you are miserable will not have any meaningful effect. Only by matching your mood do you then get to alter it, step by step.

So, for example, if you wanted to move from angry to happy, you may need to find music (or a sounds) that takes you along the following pathway

Angry - Serious - Majestic - Passionate - Happy


Angry - Sentimental - Serene - Playful - Happy

In order to use this concept as a coping strategy, you will need to set up a whole host of playlists or categories that are unique to you and your moods. This may require a fair amount of trial and error. You can either start the matching process by (i) by by finding out which music/sounds resonate with your current mood at any given time or (ii) by playing lots of different types of music/sounds and finding out what mood they put you in.


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