Last Saturday the first edition of Noorderslag Science was held, during a sold-out Noorderslag in Groningen, NL. Noorderslag Science is a seminar on pop music, the music industry and related topics (such as music cognition) that gives researchers an opportunity to present their work to a wide audience.
Tom ter Bogt (professor of popular music at the University of Utrecht), with whom I co-organized the event, presented work on fame and (early) death in pop music. Next to a review of the empirical work of e.g. Mark Bellis (“pop artists die younger”), he presented his own research on the question whether Gothic rock has a (bad) effect on adolescent behavior.*
Based on large dataset on adolescents’ musical taste, he found a correlation between the liking of Gothic Rock and suicidal thoughts (up to ten percent of the group interviewed). Interestingly, a similar effect was shown for several other genres as well, suggesting that music —in general— is more appreciated in this particular age period.
While the relation is correlational and not causal, it suggests that without music these episodes of depressive thought might be far more dangerous for these adolescents (since the actual suicide rate is, luckily, far below the ten percent mentioned above). A striking example of the importance of music and its comforting role, in this case —apparently— a fact of life and death.
* Mulder, J., Bogt, T.t., Raaijmakers, Q., Vollebergh, W. (2007). Music Taste Groups and Problem Behavior. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36(3), 313-324. DOI: 10.1007/s10964-006-9090-1