I keep talking about the positive effects of music on the physiology of our bodies – now some more scientific proof! Mamma Mia! Listening to Mozart lowers blood pressure…but ABBA has no impact!
Mozart’s Symphony No 40 in G Minor Lowered Blood Pressure
Relaxing to a soothing Mozart symphony can lower the blood pressure as much as cutting salt from the diet or exercising, a new study has shown. But for people concerned about their heart, it might be wise to stay clear of ABBA, which has no impact at all. Scientists in Germany played Mozart’s Symphony No 40 in g minor, dances by Johann Strauss, and songs by ABBA to 60 volunteers, monitoring their blood pressure before and after the experiment.
“The music of ABBA did not show any or only very small effects on blood pressure and heart rate.”~ Hans-Joachim Trappe
They found that Mozart lowered systolic blood pressure (the pressure in blood vessels when the heart beats) by 4.7 mm Hg, Strauss 3.7 mm Hg, but the Swedish pop group made no significant difference. Diastolic blood pressure (when the heart rests between beats) also fell by 2.1 mm Hg for Mozart and 2.9 mm Hg for Strauss. Previous studies have found that aerobic exercise such as cycling, running or brisk walking had a similar impact on lowering blood pressure. Reducing salt by 6 grams per day brings systolic blood pressure down by between 7 and 4 mm Hg.
ABBA Live At Wembley Arena Press Image
The lyrics in ABBA songs may have prevented the calming effect of music, say researchers. “It has been known for centuries that music has an effect on human beings. In antiquity, music was used to improve performance in athletes during the Olympic Games,” said lead author Hans-Joachim Trappe, of Ruhr University, Germany. “In our study, listening to classical music resulted in lowered blood pressure and heart rate. These drops in blood pressure were clearly expressed for the music of Mozart and Strauss. “The music of ABBA did not show any or only very small effects on blood pressure and heart rate. This may be due to emotional factors, but on the other hand, the use of spoken words may have a negative role.” The researchers concluded that to be of benefit, music must be: in a pleasant key, of skillful composition, have a consistent volume and rhythm, devoid of rousing sequences, have no lyrics, and have achieved a certain degree of fame and popularity.
Source: The research was published in the journal Deutsches Arzteblatt International.
“Music is so naturally united with us that we cannot be free from it even if we so desired” (Boethius cited by Storr)
Music’s interconnection with society can be seen throughout history. Every known culture on the earth has music. Music seems to be one of the basic actions of humans. However, early music was not handed down from generation to generation or recorded. Hence, there is no official record of “prehistoric” music. Even so, there is evidence of prehistoric music from the findings of flutes carved from bones.
The influence of music on society can be clearly seen from modern history. Music helped Thomas Jefferson write the Declaration of Independence. When he could not figure out the right wording for a certain part, he would play his violin to help him. The music helped him get the words from his brain onto the paper.
Albert Einstein is recognized as one of the smartest men who has ever lived. A little known fact about Einstein is that when he was young he did extremely poor in school. His grade school teachers told his parents to take him out of school because he was “too stupid to learn” and it would be a waste of resources for the school to invest time and energy in his education. The school suggested that his parents get Albert an easy, manual labor job as soon as they could. His mother did not think that Albert was “stupid”. Instead of following the school’s advice, Albert’s parents bought him a violin. Albert became good at the violin. Music was the key that helped Albert Einstein become one of the smartest men who has ever lived. Einstein himself says that the reason he was so smart is because he played the violin. He loved the music of Mozart and Bach the most. A friend of Einstein, G.J. Withrow, said that the way Einstein figured out his problems and equations was by improvising on the violin.
Bodily Responses to Music
In general, responses to music are able to be observed. It has been proven that music influences humans both in good and bad ways. These effects are instant and long lasting. Music is thought to link all of the emotional, spiritual, and physical elements of the universe. Music can also be used to change a person’s mood, and has been found to cause like physical responses in many people simultaneously. Music also has the ability to strengthen or weaken emotions from a particular event such as a funeral.
People perceive and respond to music in different ways. The level of musicianship of the performer and the listener as well as the manner in which a piece is performed affects the “experience” of music. An experienced and accomplished musician might hear and feel a piece of music in a totally different way than a non-musician or beginner. This is why two accounts of the same piece of music can contradict themselves.
Rhythm is also an important aspect of music to study when looking at responses to music. There are two responses to rhythm. These responses are hard to separate because they are related, and one of these responses cannot exist without the other. These responses are: (1) the actual hearing of the rhythm and (2) the physical response to the rhythm. Rhythm organizes physical movements and is very much related to the human body. For example, the body contains rhythms in the heartbeat, while walking, during breathing, etc. Another example of how rhythm orders movement is an autistic boy who could not tie his shoes. He learned how on the second try when the task of tying his shoes was put to a song. The rhythm helped organize his physical movements in time.
It cannot be proven that two people can feel the exact same thing from hearing a piece of music. For example, early missionaries to Africa thought that the nationals had bad rhythm. The missionaries said that when the nationals played on their drums it sounded like they were not beating in time. However, it was later discovered that the nationals were beating out complex polyrhythmic beats such as 2 against 3, 3 against 4, and 2 against 3 and 5, etc. These beats were too advanced for the missionaries to follow.
Responses to music are easy to be detected in the human body. Classical music from the baroque period causes the heart beat and pulse rate to relax to the beat of the music. As the body becomes relaxed and alert, the mind is able to concentrate more easily. Furthermore, baroque music decreases blood pressure and enhances the ability to learn. Music affects the amplitude and frequency of brain waves, which can be measured by an electro-encephalogram. Music also affects breathing rate and electrical resistance of the skin. It has been observed to cause the pupils to dilate, increase blood pressure, and increase the heart rate.
The Power of Music on Memory and Learning
The power of music to affect memory is quite intriguing. Mozart’s music and baroque music, with a 60 beats per minute beat pattern, activate the left and right brain. The simultaneous left and right brain action maximizes learning and retention of information. The information being studied activates the left brain while the music activates the right brain. Also, activities which engage both sides of the brain at the same time, such as playing an instrument or singing, causes the brain to be more capable of processing information.
According to The Center for New Discoveries in Learning, learning potential can be increased a minimum of five times by using this 60 beats per minute music. For example, the ancient Greeks sang their dramas because they understood how music could help them remember more easily. A renowned Bulgarian psychologist, Dr. George Lozanov, designed a way to teach foreign languages in a fraction of the normal learning time. Using his system, students could learn up to one half of the vocabulary and phrases for the whole school term (which amounts to almost 1,000 words or phrases) in one day. Along with this, the average retention rate of his students was 92%. Dr. Lozanov’s system involved using certain classical music pieces from the baroque period which have around a 60 beats per minute pattern. He has proven that foreign languages can be learned with 85-100% efficiency in only thirty days by using these baroque pieces. His students had a recall accuracy rate of almost 100% even after not reviewing the material for four years.
Johann Sebastian Bach
Georg Frederic Handel
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
In 1982, researchers from the University of North Texas performed a three-way test on postgraduate students to see if music could help in memorizing vocabulary words. The students were divided into three groups. Each group was given three tests – a pretest, a post-test, and a test a week after the first two tests. All of the tests were identical. Group 1 was read the words with Handel’s Water Music in the background. They were also asked to imagine the words. Group two was read the same words also with Handel’s Water Music in the background. Group two was not asked to imagine the words. Group three was only read the words, was not given any background music, and was also not asked to imagine the words. The results from the first two tests showed that groups one and two had much better scores than group three. The results from the third test, a week later, showed that group one performed much better than groups two or three. However, simply using music while learning does not absolutely guarantee recall but can possibly improve it. Background music in itself is not a part of the learning process, but it does enter into memory along with the information learned. Recall is better when the same music used for learning is used during recall. Also, tempo appears to be a key of music’s effect on memory.
Play Handel’s Water Music (Morning Has Broken)
One simple way students can improve test scores is by listening to certain types of music such as Mozart’s Sonata for Two Piano’s in D Major before taking a test. This type of music releases neurons in the brain which help the body to relax. The effectiveness of Mozart’s sonatas can be seen by the results from an IQ test performed on three groups of college students. The first group listened to a Mozart sonata before taking the test. The second group listened to a relaxation tape before their test. The third group did not listen to anything before the test. The first group had the highest score with an average of 119. The second group ended up with an average of 111, and the third group had the lowest score with an average of 110.
William Balach, Kelly Bowman, and Lauri Mohler, all from Pennsylvania State University, studied the effects of music genre and tempo on memory retention. They had four groups learn vocabulary words using one of four instrumental pieces – slow classical, slow jazz, fast classical, and fast jazz. Each of the four groups was divided into smaller groups for the recall test. These sub groups used either the same (i.e. slow classical, slow classical) or different (i.e. slow jazz, fast classical) pieces when taking the recall test. The results did show a dependency on the music. Recall was better when the music was the same during learning and testing. These same researchers did another test which restricted the changes in the music to just tempo (i.e. slow to fast jazz) or just genre (i.e. slow jazz to slow classical). Surprisingly, the results showed that changing the genre had no effect on recall but changing the tempo decreased recall.
Healthy and Not So Healthy Effects
Many revealing scientific experiments, studies, and research projects have been performed to try and discover the extent of the power of music. Up until 1970, most of the research done on music had to do with studying the effects of the beat of the music. It was found that slow music could slow the heartbeat and the breathing rate as well as bring down blood pressure. Faster music was found to speed up these same body measurements.
The key component of music that makes it beneficial is order. The order of the music from the baroque and classical periods causes the brain to respond in special ways. This order includes repetition and changes, certain patterns of rhythm, and pitch and mood contrasts. One key ingredient to the order of music from the baroque and classical periods is math. This is realized by the body and the human mind performs better when listening to this ordered music.
One shining example of the power of order in music is King George I of England. King George had problems with memory loss and stress management. He read from the Bible the story of King Saul and recognized that Saul had experienced the same type of problems that he was experiencing. George recognized that Saul overcame his problems by using special music. With this story in mind King George asked George Frederick Handel to write some special music for him that would help him in the same way that music helped Saul. Handel wrote his Water Music for this purpose.
Another key to the order in music is the music being the same and different. The brain works by looking at different pieces of information and deciding if they are different or the same. This is done in music of the baroque and classical periods by playing a theme and then repeating or changing the theme. The repetition is only done once. More than one repetition causes the music to become displeasing, and also causes a person to either enter a state of sub-conscious thinking or a state of anger. Dr. Ballam goes on to say that, “The human mind shuts down after three or four repetitions of a rhythm, or a melody, or a harmonic progression.” Furthermore, excessive repetition causes people to release control of their thoughts. Rhythmic repetition is used by people who are trying to push certain ethics in their music.
An Australian physician and psychiatrist, Dr. John Diamond, found a direct link between muscle strength/weakness and music. He discovered that all of the muscles in the entire body go weak when subjected to the “stopped anapestic beat” of music from hard rock musicians, including Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, Queen, The Doors, Janis Joplin, Bachman – Turner Overdrive, and The Band. Dr. Diamond found another effect of the anapestic beat. He called it a “switching” of the brain. Dr. Diamond said this switching occurs when the actual symmetry between both of the cerebral hemispheres is destroyed causing alarm in the body along with lessened work performance, learning and behavior problems in children, and a “general malaise in adults.” In addition to harmful, irregular beats in rock music, shrill frequencies prove to also be harmful to the body. Bob Larson, a Christian minister and former rock musician, remembers that in the 70’s teens would bring raw eggs to a rock concert and put them on the front of the stage. The eggs would be hard boiled by the music before the end of the concert and could be eaten. Dr. Earl W. Flosdorf and Dr. Leslie A. Chambers showed that proteins in a liquid medium were coagulated when subjected to piercing high-pitched sounds
On Animals and Plants, Too!
Tests on the effects of music on living organisms besides humans have shown that special pieces of music (including The Blue Danube) aid hens in laying more eggs. Music can also help cows to yield more milk. Researchers from Canada and the former Soviet Union found that wheat will grow faster when exposed to special ultrasonic and musical sounds. Rats were tested by psychologists to see how they would react to Bach’s music and rock music. The rats were placed into two different boxes. Rock music was played in one of the boxes while Bach’s music was played in the other box. The rats could choose to switch boxes through a tunnel that connected both boxes. Almost all of the rats chose to go into the box with the Bach music even after the type of music was switched from one box to the other.
Play Bach’s Air on The G String
Play Strauss’ The Blue Danube
Research took a new avenue when in 1968 a college student, Dorthy Retallack, started researching the effects of music on plants. She took her focus off of studying the beat and put in on studying the different sounds of music. Retallack tested the effects of music on plant growth by using music styles including classical, jazz, pop, rock, acid rock, East Indian, and country. She found that the plants grew well for almost every type of music except rock and acid rock. Jazz, classical, and Ravi Shankar turned out to be the most helpful to the plants. However, the plants tested with the rock music withered and died. The acid rock music also had negative effects on the plant growth.
One cannot deny the power of music. High school students who study music have higher grade point averages that those who don’t. These students also develop faster physically. Student listening skills are also improved through music education. The top three schools in America all place a great emphasis on music and the arts. Hungary, Japan, and the Netherlands, the top three academic countries in the world, all place a great emphasis on music education and participation in music. The top engineers from Silicon Valley are all musicians. Napoleon understood the enormous power of music. He summed it up by saying, “Give me control over he who shapes the music of a nation, and I care not who makes the laws”.
To Know More
Ballam, Michael. Music and the Mind (Documentation Related to Message). pp 1-8.
Jourdain, Robert. Music, the Brain and Ecstasy. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.,1997.
Lundin, Robert W. An Objective Psychology of Music. Malabar: Robert E. Krieger Publishing Company, 1985.
Laurence O’Donnell III is a musicist (he plays the bassoon) from Perth, Scotland. He has created a site named Music Power. This paper was produced as a result of his senior paper. Email: email@example.com
My cousin Cindy sent me a link on Facebook that is just astounding. There is actually research being done today that is producing positive results in using frequencies to shatter various micro-organisms – chief among them Cancer. I want to share the YouTube link with you so you can see for yourselves the results. Flat out impressive!
Be sure and watch it and share it – this could possibly change the face of the medical world and the way we treat disease in the very near future.
Thanks Cindy for sending this my way. If any of you readers on this website come across any other information like this please share it with me. This is a team effort!
I was listening to a news report that referenced this study published in Lancet magazine and thought I would share it with you. Also an mp3 file to listen to.
Music as an aid for postoperative recovery in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Jenny Hole, MBBS, Martin Hirsch, MBBS, Elizabeth Ball, PhD , Catherine Meads, PhD
Published Online: 12 August 2015
Music is a non-invasive, safe, and inexpensive intervention that can be delivered easily and successfully. We did a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess whether music improves recovery after surgical procedures.
We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of adult patients undergoing surgical procedures, excluding those involving the central nervous system or head and neck, published in any language. We included RCTs in which any form of music initiated before, during, or after surgery was compared with standard care or other non-drug interventions. We searched MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, and Cochrane Central. We did meta-analysis with RevMan (version 5.2), with standardised mean differences (SMD) and random-effects models, and used Stata (version 12) for meta-regression. This study is registered with PROSPERO, number CRD42013005220.
We identified 4261 titles and abstracts, and included 73 RCTs in the systematic review, with size varying between 20 and 458 participants. Choice of music, timing, and duration varied. Comparators included routine care, headphones with no music, white noise, and undisturbed bed rest. Music reduced postoperative pain (SMD −0·77 [95% CI −0·99 to −0·56]), anxiety (−0·68 [–0·95 to −0·41]), and analgesia use (−0·37 [–0·54 to −0·20]), and increased patient satisfaction (1·09 [0·51 to 1·68]), but length of stay did not differ (SMD −0·11 [–0·35 to 0·12]). Subgroup analyses showed that choice of music and timing of delivery made little difference to outcomes. Meta-regression identified no causes of heterogeneity in eight variables assessed. Music was effective even when patients were under general anaesthetic.
Music could be offered as a way to help patients reduce pain and anxiety during the postoperative period. Timing and delivery can be adapted to individual clinical settings and medical teams.
Listen to this short interview with the researcher:
I wanted to include this article from eMedExpert (online e-zine) because it has a lot of great references at the end of the article. If you are researching the effects of music, these references will be a great tool in getting you exposed to a lot of the literature that is out there supporting the use of music for so many areas of our lives – in health and well being. Much of this information I have included in previous postings, but the review is good and once again, these references are great! Enjoy.
How Music Affects Us and Promotes Health
Music is one of the few activities that involves using the whole brain. It is intrinsic to all cultures and can have surprising benefits not only for learning language, improving memory and focusing attention, but also for physical coordination and development.
Of course, music can be distracting if it’s too loud or too jarring, or if it competes for our attention with what we’re trying to do. But for the most part, exposure to many kinds of music has beneficial effects:
1: Music heals
Effective therapy for pain
Overall, music does have positive effects on pain management. Music can help reduce both the sensation and distress of both chronic pain and postoperative pain.
Listening to music can reduce chronic pain from a range of painful conditions, including osteoarthritis, disc problems and rheumatoid arthritis, by up to 21% and depression by up to 25%, according to a paper in the latest UK-based Journal of Advanced Nursing29.
Music therapy is increasingly used in hospitals to reduce the need for medication during childbirth, to decrease postoperative pain and complement the use of anesthesia during surgery30.
There are several theories about how music positively affects perceived pain:
Music serves as a distractor
Music may give the patient a sense of control
Music causes the body to release endorphins to counteract pain
Slow music relaxes person by slowing their breathing and heartbeat
Reducing blood pressure
By playing recordings of relaxing music every morning and evening, people with high blood pressure can train themselves to lower their blood pressure – and keep it low31. According to research reported at the American Society of Hypertension meeting in New Orleans, listening to just 30 minutes of classical, Celtic or raga music every day may significantly reduce high blood pressure.
Medicine for the heart
Music is good for your heart. Research shows that it is musical tempo, rather than style. Italian and British researchers32 recruited young men and women, half of whom were trained musicians. The participants slipped on head phones and listened to six styles of music, including rap and classical pieces, with random two-minute pauses. As the participants kicked back and listened, the researchers monitored their breathing, heart rates and blood pressure. The participants had faster heart and breathing rates when they listened to lively music. When the musical slowed, so did their heart and breathing rates. Some results were surprising. During the musical pauses, heart and breathing rates normalized or reached more optimal levels. Whether or not a person liked the style of music did not matter. The tempo, or pace, of the music had the greatest effect on relaxation.
Speeds Post-Stroke Recovery
A daily portion of one’s favorite pop melodies, classical music or jazz can speed recovery from debilitating strokes, according to the latest research. When stroke patients in Finland listened to music for a couple of hours each day, verbal memory and attention span improved significantly compared to patients who received no musical stimulation, or who listened only to stories read out loud, the study reports33.
Chronic headaches & migraine remedy
Music can help migraine34 and chronic headache35 sufferers reduce the intensity, frequency, and duration of the headaches.
Music boosts immunity
Music can boost the immune function. Scientists explain that a particular type of music can create a positive and profound emotional experience, which leads to secretion of immune-boosting hormones22. This helps contribute to a reduction in the factors responsible for illness. Listening to music or singing can also decrease levels of stress-related hormone cortisol. Higher levels of cortisol can lead to a decreased immune response23-24.
2: Effects of music on the brain
Music enhances intelligence, learning and IQ
The idea that music makes you smarter received considerable attention from scientists and the media. Listening to music or playing an instrument can actually make you learn better. And research confirms this.
Music has the power to enhance some kinds of higher brain function:
Reading and literacy skills11-13
Mathematical abilities16-17 Even children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder benefit in mathematics tests from listening to music beforehand.
The Mozart effect
Earlier it has been thought that listening to classical music, particularly Mozart, enhances performance on cognitive tests. However, recent findings18 show that listening to any music that is personally enjoyable has positive effects on cognition.
Music improves memory performance
The power of music to affect memory is quite intriguing. Mozart’s music and baroque music, with a 60 beats per minute beat pattern, activates the left and right brain. The simultaneous left and right brain action maximizes learning and retention of information. The information being studied activates the left brain while the music activates the right brain. Also, activities which engage both sides of the brain at the same time, such as playing an instrument or singing, cause the brain to be more capable of processing information.
Listening to music facilitates the recall of information19. Researchers have shown that certain types of music are a great “keys” for recalling memories. Information learned while listening to a particular song can often be recalled simply by “playing” the songs mentally.
Musical training has even better effect than just listening to classical music. There is clear evidence20, that children who take music lessons develop a better memory compared with children who have no musical training.
Note: For learning or memory performance, it’s important that music doesn’t have a vocal component; otherwise you’re more likely to remember the words of the background song than what you’re supposed to be recalling.
Music improves concentration and attention
Easy listening music or relaxing classics improves the duration and intensity of concentration in all age groups and ability levels. It’s not clear what type of music is better, or what kind of musical structure is necessary to help, but many studies have shown significant effects21.
3: Music improves physical performance
Music improves athletic performance
Choosing music that motivates you will make it easier to start moving, walking, dancing, or any other type of exercise that you enjoy. Music can make exercise feel more like recreation and less like work. Furthermore, music enhances athletic performance6-8! Anyone who has ever gone on a long run with their iPod or taken a particularly energetic spinning class knows that music can make the time pass more quickly.
The four central hypotheses explaining music’s facilitation of exercise performance include:
Reduction in the feeling of fatigue
Increase in levels of psychological arousal
Physiological relaxation response
Improvement in motor coordination
Music improves body movement and coordination
Music reduces muscle tension and improves body movement and coordination25-26. Music may play an important role in developing, maintaining and restoring physical functioning in the rehabilitation of persons with movement disorders.
4: Music helps to work more productively
Listening to upbeat music can be a great way to find some extra energy. Music can effectively eliminate exercise-induced fatigue9 and fatigue symptoms caused by monotonous work10.
Keep in mind that listening to too much pop and hard rock music can make you more jittery than energized. Vary what you listen to and find out what type of music is most beneficial for you. You could try classical music one day, pop the next day and jazz the third.
Music improves productivity
Many people like to listen to music while they work and I am certainly one of them. How about you? Did you know you can perform better at your work with music? Whilst there may be many reasons for wishing to listen to music in the workplace, it really improves your productivity27!
According to a report in the journal Neuroscience of Behavior and Physiology28, a person’s ability to recognize visual images, including letters and numbers, is faster when either rock or classical music is playing in the background.
5: Music calms, relaxes and helps to sleep
Relaxing music induces sleep
Relaxing classical music is safe, cheap and easy way to beat insomnia1. Many people who suffer from insomnia find that Bach music helps them. Researchers have shown that just 45 minutes of relaxing music before bedtime can make for a restful night2.
Relaxing music reduces sympathetic nervous system activity, decreases anxiety, blood pressure, heart and respiratory rate and may have positive effects on sleep via muscle relaxation and distraction from thoughts.
Music reduces stress and aids relaxation
Listening to slow, quiet classical music, is proven to reduce stress3. Countless studies have shown that music’s relaxing effects can be seen on anyone, including newborns.
One of the great benefits of music as a stress reliever is that it can be used while you do your usual deeds so that it really doesn’t take time.
How does music reduces stress?
Physical relaxation: Music can promote relaxation of tense muscles, enabling you to easily release some of the tension you carry from a stressful day.
Aids in stress relief activities: Music can help you get “into the zone” when practicing yoga, self hypnosis or guided imagery, can help you feel energized when exercising and recover after exercising, help dissolve the stress when you’re soaking in the tub.
Reduces negative emotions: Music, especially upbeat tunes, can take your mind off what stresses you, and help you feel more optimistic and positive. This helps release stress and can even help you keep from getting as stressed over life’s little frustrations in the future. Researchers discovered4 that music can decrease the amount of the cortisol, a stress-related hormone produced by the body in response to stress.
6: Music improves mood and decreases depression
Prescription for the blues
Music’s ability to “heal the soul” is the stuff of legend in every culture. Many people find that music lifts their spirits. Modern research tends to confirm music’s psychotherapeutic benefits5. Bright, cheerful music (e.g. Mozart, Vivaldi, bluegrass, Klezmer, Salsa, reggae) is the most obvious prescription for the blues.
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