A new study by a Big Ten school has shown music to elevate and intensify the emotions of college students. Whether a listener’s preference is hard rock or classical, a recent Penn State study has shown college students are likely to report more positive emotions or intensified positive emotions when they have been listening to music.

The students who participated in the study experienced an increase in positive emotions as well as a drop in frequency of negative emotions each time they listened to any kind of music at all.

“College can be very stressful. Music of whatever kind has an underlying structure and can realign … a sense of continuity and organization to the universe, making a person feel that things will get better,” said Mimmi Fulmer, professor of voice and associate director of opera for the University of Wisconsin. “Music organizes time in a certain way that helps comfort listeners. Listeners can feel such structure and organization, can estimate about how long the piece will last, and gain a sense that things have a perceivable logic.”

In the past, music research has proven music to be more powerful than a nap to achieve calmness and relaxation, relieve devastating depression and even assist stroke victims or Down’s syndrome patients with communication.

Other recent reports, such as one publicized by the BBC, claim that music not only affects moods, but also helps students score better on tests. This theory is known as the Mozart effect, and, according to the BBC report, the study demonstrated that after listening to 10 minutes of an upbeat Mozart tune before a test, students’ test scores increased.

“Music, in general, is enjoyable — people like listening to sounds that are pleasing to the ears,” said UW junior Nick Ammerman, trumpet player in the UW Marching Band.

Ammerman also noted the importance of music at Badger football games, where it is often used to “get the crowd pumped up and motivate the team.”

Whether it’s warming up the crowd at a UW sporting event, enhancing that last minute cram session, or providing a romantic evening of opera, Fulmer knows the power of music cannot be underestimated.

“There is a sense of continuity. Musicians in the past have gone through things, but they made it through, and the music still has life. It’s as if the music is saying that things might be bad now, but they’ll get better,” Fulmer said. “Familiar music, especially, can make people feel better not only because of the underlying structure, but also because it’s comfortable and stable. Music’s underlying pulse can give you stability, like a heartbeat.”