Music and lyric characteristics of popular Dutch funeral songs

Waldie E Hanser*, Ruth E Mark, Ad J J M Vingerhoets

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
77 Downloads (Pure)


This study compared the characteristics of 150 songs (Dutch lyrics, N = 47, English lyrics, N = 103), popular at Dutch funerals, to an equal number of non-funeral songs. The variables explored included those linked with the music (valence, energy, danceability, acousticness, key, and tempo); and lyrics, namely: linguistics-related (first-person singular/plural, second-person pronouns; past, present, future tense; expressed emotion (positive, negative words, and the discrete emotional categories anger, anxiety, sadness); and category words (those relating to family, friends, death, religion). Funeral music was lower in valence, energy, and danceability and higher in acousticness than non-funeral music. Furthermore, English funeral music lyrics contained more second-person pronouns and were more future-focused than comparison songs. Funeral lyrics were not particularly negative, but English texts contained more words relating to sadness. In conclusion, funeral music differs in severable notable respects from general popular songs that may reflect the special purpose of this music.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalOmega: Journal of Death and Dying
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2023


  • LIWC
  • SAD
  • funeral music
  • linguistic analysis
  • linguistic inquiry and word count
  • lyrics
  • music characteristics


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