Mood music is what gets mp3 listeners through day

FROM pumping up the volume at the gym to singing into the hairbrush to our favourite anthems, we all use music to boost our mood at some point.

And now academics at a leading Scottish University have discovered a growing trend for music fans to create unusual track lists on their mp3 players.

Rather than simply ordering their favourite songs by artist or genre, people are creating lists to fit particular times of day or year or to provoke certain moods.

The researchers have now put the lists people create on their mp3 players into four categories, including mood and emotions.

Researchers at Heriot-Watt University discovered music lovers still put their music into traditional groupings such as traditional genre or artists.

However, the experts also found listeners created music lists in unexpected categories such as for activities they do while listening to the list, such as cooking, or for a particular time of day, or to provoke a mood.

The four categories are: genres and artists, activities, time of day or year and emotions. Nearly a quarter of the lists studies were for activities ranging from sleeping to dancing and cooking, with exercise and travel being the most popular.

The study, undertaken by Professor Adrian North and researcher Amanda Krause, found created lists for particular times of year such as spring. They also discovered a trend for creating lists of music that are designed to provoke particular moods.

Many of the playlists pertained to specific activities, demonstrating the great desire to tailor what music people hear.

Ms Krause said: "Turning on the radio might not be enough for people who want music on in the background. People want more control in what they hear. For example, some people had playlists for March containing lighter music suggestive of the warming weather."

Prof North added: "Some of these findings makes good physiological sense. In a gym we want to do a good workout and so we devise playlists containing loud music with a strong rhythm that helps us achieve that. If even tasks like cookery or travel have their own playlists then it seems that people are using music to achieve a particular mindset in a range of different situations."

Prof North and Ms Krause are keen for more people to participate in the study by visiting http://listening-research.blogspot.com to complete a short questionnaire.

The initial questionnaire was part of a larger investigation that explored the relationships between individuals' self image and their interactions with their digital music collections via the commercially predominant programme, iTunes.