In My Feels – Music for When I Feel SAD

Sometimes it can be hard to identify certain feelings, let alone experience them! But did you know that listening to music is a great way to experience our emotions fully?

“Where words fail, music speaks.”

— Hans Christian Andersen

Music offers a safe space to explore joy, sadness, excitement, anger, contentment, fear, and everything in between without judgment. Music can paint an even richer and more comprehensive picture of how we perceive emotions by using sounds rather than words to describe feelings.

Think of music as a friend accompanying you on a ride at a theme park. Sometimes the ride looks fun; sometimes, it seems terrifying. But no ride lasts forever, and often, you learn something about yourself from the experience.

In this series, we will explore emotions and use music as our guide.

Music for When I Feel SAD

When was the last time something made you feel sad?

When situations that cause sadness appear, our first instinct is often to try to fix it, as though sadness is a problem that needs to be solved, which makes sense! The idea of something making you feel sad can be a scary thought.

As hard as it can be to sit with “bad” emotions like sadness, all emotions offer an opportunity to teach us about ourselves and how to cope when challenging situations come up. It’s like journaling without writing anything down.

Feeling sad can take on many different shades, such as…

  • Gloomy
  • Heavyhearted
  • Disappointed
  • Somber
  • Unhappy
  • Discouraged

The next time you find yourself experiencing sadness, rather than turning away, why not try offering this unwelcome emotion the space to present itself with the loving guidance of music?

Nocturne, “Memories of my country” by Teresa Carreño

Known as the “Valkyrie of the piano,” Venezuelan pianist and composer Teresa Carreño was one of the most virtuosic musicians of her time. Though she was born in Caracas, Carreño spent most of her life in the U.S. and Europe. Given the title of this piece for piano, we can imagine the composer’s sentimental memories of her homeland. Perhaps Carreño was experiencing homesickness when she wrote this song and chose to illustrate what few memories remained of Venezuela through this music.

“Nimrod” from Enigma Variations by Edward Elgar

English composer Edward Elgar wrote “Nimrod” as a tribute to his dear friend and music publisher, August Jaeger. The story goes that Jaeger supported Elgar through a period of depression and helped lift the composer out of his melancholy. You can certainly sense the weight of such an experience in the music, as well as the sense of hope offered to the listener at the end to take forward with them.

“Opening” from Glassworks by Philip Glass

Glassworks represents a musical practice called minimalism, in which a composer will use limited musical elements to create a piece. Typical aspects of minimalism include repetitive patterns and easy-to-digest harmonies. The resulting sounds are often meditative and soothing. You may find the repetitive predictability of the opening movement of Glassworks by American composer Philip Glass comforting, like receiving a hug from a good friend. The nearly eight minutes of music provide ample space to explore your sadness with kindness.

“Ingeborg’s Lament” from Fritiof Suite by Elfrida Andrée

“Ingeborg’s Lament” is the second movement from Swedish composer Elfrida Andrée’s Fritiof Suite. The material for this orchestral suite was drawn from an earlier opera by Andrée. The composer based the music on Fritiof’s Saga, a love story from Old Norse mythology. In this story, the hero, Fritiof, and the heroine, Ingeborg, are forbidden from marrying due to the jealousy and resentment of Ingeborg’s family. Do you sense the heroine’s anguish in this piece?

“Lament of the Nymph” by Claudio Monteverdi

A lament, or a passionate expression of sorrow, has long been a source of inspiration for musicians and composers. 17th-century Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi wrote one of his most famous madrigals to evoke just that. Despite being 400 years old, “Lament of the Nymph” still resonates with listeners due to its poignancy. In this madrigal, a nymph expresses her sad tale of loss while two background singers offer compassion and sympathy.

You can revisit all these pieces, plus a few extras, on our Spotify playlist – Music for When I Feel SAD.