Music Teacher's Helper Blog

On How Music Conveys Hope

It is known that music has the power to send different messages and express many human emotions but it’s uncommon to really go deep into which emotions, how and why these emotions are carried by the sounds of music, in this case it’s interesting to think about one of the strongest feelings of people, hope.

The Line

If we think of music as a line, there are various tipes of lines, if you think of a straight line, it’s a music with very few or slight crescendos, and it tends to keep the same pace, this usually conveys more sadness, melancholy or it can be a minimalistic approach. However if you think of a line that goes up and down throughout the coposition, it means there are moments in which sounds express strong emotions, there is the climb where you feel tension, there is a release at the top and then it relaxes. Usually hope can be found on it’s way up of this line.

This climb can be anxious, exciting or just a fast explosion to get to a higher state. If a song is to convey hope, the climb has to show it’s going to a good place, to an explosion of sounds that will move your body and soul, but how is this achieved?

The Climb (Towards a feeling of hope)

For example in classical music there is “The Marriage of Figaro” from Mozart which is one his most loved and known compositions. This piece of music starts on a climb and then shines a little, it keeps climbing, it explodes and then relaxes, just to continue climbing, there is no negative tension, the only tension is waiting for that great thing that is about to happen.

The Rock band Queen was able to do this climb in an incredible way, with songs such as “Somebody to love”. This song is on an endless climb the same way as “The Marriage of Figaro”.

The rock band Muse is also able to make compositions that allow this feeling to naturally appear in the person who listens.

“Here I go again” is another great example, which follows the line of ballads that work between melancholy and hope, but the climb is still present.

The reason why there are many examples in rock about hopeful music is because rock has very intense highs, and this is not something you can find for example in jazz or hip hop.

Science of Hope

Despite music having such a strong impact on people, music doesn’t affect everyone the same way, in other words, if a person who is not hopeful at all in life, he or she may not receive the same impact of music than a slightly hopeful person.

Within the field of positive psychology, hope has been shown to be related to individuals’ ways of coping with success and failure. The present study examined the effect of music and dispositional hope on state hope, after experiencing failure. Sixty participants filled out a dispositional hope questionnaire, and completed a computer task for which they received false failure feedback. Thirty participants listened to positive music following the task, while 30 participants did not receive the music stimulus.

The effect of positive music and dispositional hope on state hope and affect.
Naomi Ziv, Anat Ben Chaim, Oren Itamar

But science isn’t everything, even more so in art.

A Sense of Breakthrough

There is a sense of action and passion in these compositions that convey hope, it’s as if it inspired the will to act despite the odds, and this is a very powerful feeling since many things in life are about failing and trying again, or how they say, falling and getting back up. This is very true and hopeful music helps with this “getting up” part in a way that it’s hard to explain, but it just gets under your skin.


Of course hope, in this case, came from a hopeful musician, but not everyone is hopeful all the time, that’s why art it’s so important for people, it leaves a trace, it allows for that hope to be timeless and in some cases touch many people, so even if people are not hopeful all the time, we know that there is music out there that exist as proof that there is hope.


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