I'm a layperson with regards to all things music. I have some experience with the guitar and took a semester long music theory class in high school, but aside from that and some stuff I've heard from watching Adam Neely and Rick Beato I know nothing, I do however have perfect pitch.

I know different keys tend to take on different sounds and moods depending on the instruments used and the structure of the song, but there are certain keys that will make me feel certain ways no matter the facts about the song, performance, etc.

For instance F major always makes me feel incredibly overwhelmed and upset, to the point where it can be a trigger for depressive and intrusive thoughts no matter how I was feeling before. E minor and F minor tend to calm me down no matter what state I'm in, C minor (in classical music mostly) makes me irritated, like having an itch I can't reach etc.

Is there any psychological and/or music-theory based explanation for why this happens? A lot of my friends who are much more musically developed than I am tend to have likes and dislikes when it comes to certain keys and progressions but so far as I know I'm the only person I've met who overreacts like this. It's to the point where I'm trying to write a script that will automatically comb through the songs in my library and automatically transpose everything to keys I can stand.

  • There might be some psychology to this but there’s no music theory related to it. That’s not part of what music theory is about. Jan 13, 2019 at 3:51
  • There were feelings or moods assigned to keys before equal temperament became common, because the nature of each was detectable to a trained ear, even without perfect pitch. But equal temperament makes each key indistinguishable for a listener who only has relative pitch. Since you have perfect pitch, you might be describing a synesthetic phenomenon. That’s psychological; not musical.
    – trw
    Jan 13, 2019 at 5:01
  • Avoid to play F major and C, prefer playing e- and f- minor. Jan 13, 2019 at 6:22
  • 2
    Frank Zappa: "You have to like D minor a lot to play in our band". Spinal Tap: "D minor is the saddest of all keys". Jan 13, 2019 at 7:37
  • 1
    I'm intrigued--how would your script handle music that changes keys? For example, the first movement of Beethoven's Appassionata Sonata is in F minor overall, which would be fine, except a significant portion of it later is in F major, which I'm fairly sure you are programming your script to transpose away from.
    – Dekkadeci
    Jan 13, 2019 at 7:48

1 Answer 1


The term you have too look up is:

Characteristics of Musical Keys

There has always been a great discussion about the characteristics of scale and keys (which are the basic of chords) by different composers.f


There is objective evidence that most requiems are written in d- minor. The modi and temperature are the main factors, but also the conditioning will play a role. There‘s a great amount of subjectivity in this discussion.


Ernst Kurth was one of the first who was occupied with music psychology. „This system is approached from three perspectives and three questions: a) chordal fusion, or how it is that we sense simultaneous tones as harmonious ; b) chordal tension, or why we feel tension when hearing simultaneous tones; and c) chordal movement, or what underlying principles govern our responses to the succession of chords.“ (Daphne Tan Dissertation downloadable pdf)

for better understanding:

How does Music Affect your brain?

„Music psychology, which is a branch of musicology, aims to explain the understanding the effects of musical behavior. Many sound frequencies, called pitch, can form a melody. Melody is the part of music that is memorable and music that doesn’t have much of a melody often lacks direction.Corresponding harmonies can produce a variety of effects on a song. Harmonies can range from bright and uplifting to dark and depressing.“ https://mass001.wordpress.com/2017/04/03/the-psychology-of-musicology-the-effects-of-classical-music-on-the-brain/

  • Ya know what, maybe my notion that A flat major is the most morose of all major keys comes from A flat major pieces actually being more depressing overall. (I'm an avid classical music fan, which would amplify these trends in music in certain keys I could notice.)
    – Dekkadeci
    Jan 13, 2019 at 7:45
  • Maybe you‘re traing perfect pitch of a‘ 440 as I did some years ago. Then the bells of the cows ringing on a A flat got me crazy ... Jan 13, 2019 at 7:53
  • I wonder what the music psychology is of certain intervals, progressions, and harmponies are. Considering in a lot of classical music regardless of the key I don't feel particularly moved by any of it. But songs in minor keys with a lot 2nd, 6th, 7th intervals and sustained chords tend to hit hard. Jan 13, 2019 at 15:35

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