With Valentine's Day approaching, there are a few classical works that stand out when celebrating the holiday Puccini's "O Mio Babbino Caro," Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Overture, and countless lied and serenades. But why do we think these works are romantic?
There's a few reasons behind our attraction to classical music for Valentine's Day. First, we need to investigate why any music could be deemed romantic.
A hypothesis from many anthropologists is that music evolved to attract a mate. Singing could have been a way to show interest and showcase talent.
Talent is a big component of it, too. A study from Sweden showed that a potential partner is more attractive if music is performed well, versus played in a poor or amateur manner.
So, playing an instrument well is a great way to be romantic, but why classical music?
A study done in Japan focused on the role of music and attraction in a sort of "speed dating" scenario. Women who listened to positive music were more likely to deem their paired partner as attractive compared to listening to silence or negative music.
Why did that happen? Researchers hypothesized it is due to a misattribution of emotions. Because the women were listening to beautiful music, they deemed their partner's physical appearance as more attractive as well. It's the same way we think food tastes better if there are pleasant sights around us, versus an unsightly scene.
The music used in the study? 19th-century solo works for piano. Yes, works by Schubert, Schumann, and even Satie can get you in the romantic spirit. But why? Researchers chose this music due to a previous study that showed classical music "can be used to prime the emotional processing of environmental scenes."
Basically, classical music really knows how to tug on our heartstrings.
So next time you want to impress a date or want your online dating profile to seem more attractive, try adding some Franz Liszt to the mix.