Music app balances emotions by turning your playlist into a therapist

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A new app acts as a therapist by creating customized playlists to help listeners care for their emotions through music.

The Emotion Equalization App surveys a person’s mood and energy to create a corresponding therapeutic playlist of consoling, relaxing, or uplifting tunes. Scientists say that music has the potential to change emotional states and can distract listeners from negative thoughts and pain.

Music has also been proven to help improve memory, performance, and mood.

“As humanity’s universal language, music can significantly impact a person’s physical and emotional state,” says Man Hei Law of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in a media release. “For example, music can help people to manage pain. We developed this app as an accessible first aid strategy for balancing emotions.”

Law adds that the app could help people who may not want to receive counseling or treatment because of feelings of shame, inadequacy, or distrust. By taking listeners on an emotional roller-coaster ride, the app aims to leave them in a more positive and focused state than where they began.

Law, a PhD student, explains that users take three self-led questionnaires in the app to measure a user’s emotional status and provide the information needed to create a playlist.

music therapist
The Emotion Equalization App surveys your mood and energy to create a corresponding therapeutic playlist. (CREDIT: Man Hei Law)

How does the app create a therapy plan?

The app gauges current emotion and long-term emotion status with a pictorial assessment tool that helps identify emotions in terms of energy level and mood. Energy level can run from high, medium, to low and mood can register as positive, neutral, or negative.

A Patient Health Questionnaire and a General Anxiety Disorder screening also help establish personalized music therapy treatments. By determining the emotional state of the user, the app creates a customized and specifically sequenced playlist of songs using one of three strategies: consoling, relaxing, or uplifting.

Law says the consoling music reflects the energy and mood of the user, while relaxing music provides a positive, low energy. Uplifting music is also positive, but more high energy.

“In our experiments, we found out that relaxing and uplifting methods can significantly move listeners from negative to more positive emotional states. Especially, when listeners are at a neutral mood, all three proposed methods can change listeners’ emotions to more positive,” Law reports.

The study author presented these findings at the 183rd meeting of the Acoustical Society of America.

South West News Service writer Stephen Beech contributed to this report.

YouTube video