How Do You Describe the Mood of a Song?

The mood of a song can be described in many ways. A song can be described as happy, sad, hopeful, lively, dark, epic, intense, and many more. You can also use Robert Thayer’s music mood classification if you want to get more granular.

Robert Thayer’s traditional model of mood

Robert Thayer, a mood researcher, and psychologist suggests that mood is kind of like a spectrum. He categorizes moods by where they lie on this scale going from energy and stress, from happy to sad and calm to energetic, respectively.

Although mood can be linear, it is not always so. Someone can feel the mood at one time or another, but the mood does not necessarily stay there for the whole mood of a song.

Generally speaking, faster tempos are connected with songs that have high energy while slower tempos, on the other hand, are associated with songs that have lower energy. Often loud or intense songs reflect anger, while softer ones suggest tenderness, sadness, or fear. Higher pitches indicate a more upbeat, carefree, and light mood within a song, while lower pitches indicate a darker, more serious, and dark mood. 

In music, harmonics create a tonal component that is a good indicator of mood which is called timbre. An Indian group of researchers has found that “timbre stimulates human energy levels without regard to rhythmic or harmonic saturation. Sound sources that have simple harmonic profiles have darker timbres and tend to soothe human emotions” – BNM Institute of Technology in Bangalore, India.

By analyzing the measurable elements of a song like its rhythm, tempo, loudness or softness, pitch, harmony, and timbre, it can be possible to categorize songs based on the expected mood for each style.

What are other examples of music moods?

A mood is the feeling that you feel when you listen to music. It isn’t always about what mood it makes you think of, but what mood it actually puts you in. Many songs have moods ranging from happy to sad and lonely to hopeful.

Lonely – The mood lonely describes a song with a sense of isolation or loneliness, and you can feel this, in a sense that, if a song instantly affects you, it makes you feel lonely and isolated.

Sad – The mood sad is one of the most common moods songs are written with, many people enjoy listening to sad music because it makes them happy to think that they aren’t alone and also inspires them to do something about their mood.

Hopeful – The mood hopeful is used in songs to express a sense of optimism and this mood usually appears during the chorus or bridge of a song. By hearing lyrics that are positive and have a sense of hope, it can also cause you to have these feelings toward life itself.

Happy – A happy mood is a feeling of content and joy and this mood is usually expressed in the lyrics and rhythm of a song. Even if the song is about something sad or moody it can still make you feel happy when listening to it because you found happiness in spite of the mood.

Mixed – The mood mixed can be described as a song with a mix of moods in it. This mood is the least common mood used when writing music. It is when an artist wants their mood to feel uncertain and complex. This mood causes the listener to have feelings that are at the same time conflicted or confused which gives them a sense of wonder and excitement.

How do music moods differ from emotions?

Although moods and emotions can both be feelings, moods are a more general feeling, whereas emotions describe the mood you feel as a result of a song. Moods describe the overall mood of a song or what mood it makes you feel on first listen, while emotions are things that the listener feels as they listen to a song over time.

A song can change your mood just as your own mood can change over time. While a mood is a temporary condition that changes over time, emotion is longer lasting and dependent on the song. Music causes us to have moods or emotions because it connects to our subconscious and the mood center of the brain.

Moods and emotions differ even more when we look at their source. Moods can be caused by a variety of things, but moods that stem from music are specifically connected to how we listen to it. 

Music also causes mood changes within our body’s biochemistry. For example, listening to faster music can cause feelings of excitement or anxiety because it speeds up your heart rate.

There are moods that are related to physical sensations like hunger. When you’re hungry, fast-paced songs can cause moods of frustration and anger because the body needs food.

These differences between moods and emotions can also be bolstered by how moods are triggered. Moods themselves differ in the mood starting point which is either internal or external. 

Internal mood triggers include physical sensations, mental processes like imagination, memory, thinking, feeling, emotion, mood feel, mood meaning. External mood triggers are influenced by outside factors including visual imagery of art or nature, sensory moods like music or smells, and mood context which includes moods that are set in social contexts.


Describing the mood of a song is not as difficult as it may seem. There are many moods that can be used to describe moods in songs and they all depend on how you interpret the mood of the song. The mood itself cannot be described, but it can be interpreted by your emotions and feelings about what mood you think the song in question is.

“Emotions” are something that the listener feels over time as he or she listens to a song. “Moods”, on the other hand, describe the overall mood of a song or what mood it makes you feel on first listen. Moods can be caused by many different things, but moods attributed to specific songs are connected to how we listen to it.

While some songs may leave a lasting emotional effect, these emotions also shift over time and can be caused by a variety of things. Mood changes that stem from a song itself, however, come from the chemical reactions in the brain that occur when listening to music. An example of this is how music can cause feelings of excitement or anxiety because it speeds up your heart rate.