Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Why do people like sad music? Listen to 6 Minute English

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Sam: Hello. This is 6 Minute English,

I'm Sam.

Neil: And I'm Neil.

Sam: Do you like sad music, Neil?

Neil: Well, when I was younger and if I had

a break-up with a girlfriend I would listen

to sad songs, songs which

reflected my mood.

Sam: And do you still listen

to those songs now?

Neil: Not so much, but I do still

like them.

Sam: Well, it seems as if there might be

a biological reason why

some of us do like sad

songs. We'll look at this topic a little more

after this week's quiz question, which is

about music videos.

The music video has been around

for a while, but in what year was MTV,

the first dedicated music video

channel, launched in the US?

Was it... A: 1981, B: 1982, or

C: 1983?

Neil: Well...

Sam: What do you think, Neil?

Neil: I'm going to guess.

Is it the early 1980s?

Sam: Well, yes. Care to be more specific?

Neil: Well... Well, it was a long time ago

- I was just a small boy. I'm going to go

for 1982.

Sam: OK, I'll have answer later

in the programme. But first,

more about sad songs. Professor

David Huron from Ohio State University

has conducted research

in this area and he discussed

it recently on a BBC World Service

radio programme - The Why Factor.

He was looking at why some

people like sad music and

other people really don't like it all,

as he says they just can't

stand it. He believes it's to do

with a hormone. A hormone is

a natural chemical in our bodies

which can have an effect on various

systems and also emotions.

Listen out for the name

of the hormone he mentions.

Professor Huron: One of the things

that we were interested in was -

what's the difference

between people who listen

to sad music and who love it,

and people who listen to sad

music and who just can't stand it.

In our research, it started pointing

towards a hormone

called prolactin. Now, prolactin,

as you might have guessed from the

name, is associated

with 'lactation' from breast-feeding.

When people cry, they also

release prolactin. And,

there are circumstances in which

prolactin seems to have

this comforting effect.

Sam: So which hormone did he mention?

Neil: He talked about the hormone

called prolactin which he said was

connected to lactation.

This is the production of milk by

mammals to feed their young.

Sam: What he noted was this

hormone can be released when people

cry and in some cases

this hormone has a comforting effect.

When something is comforting,

it makes you feel

better, it calms your emotions.

Let's listen again.

Professor Huron: One of the things

that we were interested in was -

what's the difference

between people who listen

to sad music and who love it,

and people who listen to sad

music and who just can't stand it.

In our research, it started pointing

towards a hormone

called prolactin. Now, prolactin,

as you might have guessed from

the name, is associated

with 'lactation' from breast-feeding.

When people cry, they also

release prolactin. And,

there are circumstances in which

prolactin seems to have

this comforting effect.

Sam: So, what conclusions did he make

about this hormone and how

it might be working?

Professor Huron explains.

Professor Huron: So the thought was that,

perhaps what's going on

is that the people

who are enjoying listening to sad music

are receiving some sort

of excess of prolactin,

and people who are listening to sad

music and they just find it

incredibly sad and unhelpful

and they just don't want to listen to it,

maybe they're not getting

enough prolactin

when they listen to the music.

Sam: So what is happening?

Or as Professor Huron said,

what's going on?

Neil: Well, it seems quite simple, though

I'm sure it's very complicated. People who

like sad music are maybe getting

too much prolactin or more

than is normal - he describes

this as an excess of prolactin.

And maybe people who don't like

sad music aren't getting enough.

Sam: So, the idea is that prolactin

is a hormone which we find comforting.

If our bodies release

it when we hear sad music, it gives us a

good feeling - but if prolactin

isn't released or there isn't

enough of it, we just find the sad music

sad and it doesn't help to cheer us up.

Neil: I guess so, but you know

emotions are funny things - it's

weird to think that our

feelings are caused by different

natural chemicals that run around

the body.

Sam: Absolutely! OK,

we're going to take another look at

today's vocabulary but first, the answer

to this week's quiz.

The music video has been around

for a while, but in what year

was MTV, the first

dedicated music video channel, launched

in the US? Was it... A: 1981, B: 1982

or C: 1983?

And Neil, you said...

Neil: I said it was definitely the early 80s.

Sam: Well, you're not wrong there,

but which year exactly?

Neil: '82?

Sam: Ah well, you'll need to dig out

a sad song to make you feel better

now because the

answer was 1981.

Neil: Oh dear, I can feel my

prolactin levels dropping already!

Sam: I'm sure you can't! But let's move on

to vocabulary. If you

can't stand something,

it means you really don't like it.

Neil: A hormone is one of

the body's natural chemicals.

Sam: And the hormone prolactin

is connected with lactation,

which is the production of

milk by mammals.

Neil: Something that is comforting

makes you feel better emotionally.

Sam: The phrase 'what's going on' has

a very similar meaning to

'what's happening'.

Neil: And an excess of something is

'too much or a more than normal

amount of that thing'.

Sam: Well, before you have an excess of

our company, we should wrap up.

Thanks for listening

and we hope you'll join us again soon.

As ever, don't forget that you can find

more from the BBC Learning English

team online, across social media and

on our very own app!

Bye for now!

Neil: Goodbye!

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