Katydid's Site Index

Class on music therapy.

Music Article 1
Mood Music How music affects the way we feel by Kimberly Husband
From the exhortations of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" to the mournful strains of a funeral dirge, music has the power to send spirits soaring or bring them crashing down. A lullaby can soothe a child to sleep, while a fight song can inspire greater efforts on the field of play — or of battle. What is it about these arrangements of sound that can change the way we feel?

The Physical response the Body
Many studies have been done on the effects of music on mood, and whole professions, like music therapy, have grown out of the results. Researchers agree that listening to music results in physical changes in the body.
The body responds to different music in different ways, often attempting to synchronize its internal environment with external stimuli — that is, speeding up or slowing down to match what's going on around it.
Some music is sedative while other music is stimulative. Sedative music has a regular beat without syncopation, is not percussive and features strings and woodwinds rather than brass and percussion. It is predictable in rhythm, form and melody. Sedative music can produce a relaxation response in the listener. Heart rate and breathing may slow; cardiac output improves, muscle tension lessens and blood pressure decreases. The listener may feel less pain or anxiety, and the brain may even release endorphins.
Stimulative music, on the other hand, speeds up physical responses. Heart rate and respiration increase in response to faster tempos and more percussive beats. The listener has to work harder to track more complex rhythms or melodies.

The Brain
Dr. Anne Blood, a post-doctoral fellow at McGill University at Montreal Neurological Institute, has studied the brain's reaction to pleasant and unpleasant music. In a study published April 1999 in the journal Nature Neuroscience, she measured blood flow in the brains of subjects who listened to music of varying degrees of pleasantness (consonance or harmony) and unpleasantness (dissonance or disharmony). Blood found that more brain activity occurred in the frontal lobes as subjects heard pleasant music, while more activity occurred in the temporal lobes during unpleasant music. And are these measures of neural activity levels accurate predictors of subjects' moods?
Nothing more than feelings

"Scientists aren't sure," says Blood. "It's really hard to say why different types of music cause different emotions." Knowing which areas of the brain are active doesn't predict a person's emotional state, she says, because several different areas of the brain are known to be involved in governing emotion. Blood points out that due to individuals' subjective interpretation of stimuli, brain activity that means high arousal for one person can mean less agitation for another.

Emotion is highly subjective, adds Dr. Barbara Wheeler, director of the music therapy program at the University of Louisville's School of Music. Each listener labels his or her own response to a piece of music with a feeling largely based upon the associations the individual has with that piece. A favorite song from childhood, even a ballad, might bring back pleasant memories for one person, while a beautiful operatic passage bores another. "You can't play one universally ‘happy' song that makes everyone happy," says Wheeler. "We have some control over how music affects our own moods, but we can't predict for others."

The Pavarotti Prescription
Regardless of exactly how it works, music does affect the way we feel, and we can choose our tuneful tonics accordingly. Music therapists like Dr. Wheeler, for instance, play soothing music for patients who need to reduce their stress levels and provide percussion instruments for those who want to vent excess energy.

So next time you're feeling out of sorts, be your own music therapist. If you want to beat a case of the blues, put on Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" with its soaring choruses and grand crescendos building to a breathless finale. For something soothing, try Pachelbel's Canon, which features lulling variations on a theme. To lift lethargy, go with a relentless Sousa march like "Stars and Stripes Forever." Need a good cry? Put on Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor." If you're wound up tighter than a drum — grab one! If you're feeling out of tune, don't despair. A dose of doo-wop may be all you need.

From the January-February, 2001, issue of Today's Health & Wellness magazine. 

Music Article 2: The Mozart effect
 According to musician and researcher Don Campbell, author of The Mozart Effect, music may provide all the help you need to be smarter, healthier and happier. Listening attentively to music can lower your blood pressure, sharpen your memory and increase your I.Q. Active listening, which stimulates several areas of the brain at once, can increase learning capacity and retention, activate creativity and even decrease anxiety.

He favors Mozart because the composer's music is well organized and emotionally consistent. One of Campbell's studies showed that college students who listened to Mozart's Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major scored higher on subsequent I.Q. tests than did students who heard a relaxation tape or nothing. However, music that is highly dense or "cluttered" with loud low sounds, such as high-volume heavy metal, says Campbell, can cause the body to reduce its sensation level.

Campbell's book The Mozart Effect for Children includes guided listening exercises for parents and children to do together. Whether or not you believe in the "transformative power of music," spending time enjoying it can certainly do no harm. The fun you have might even produce some positive effects.
 
~From the January-February, 2001, issue of Today's Health & Wellness magazine. 

Remember to harm none!!!!

Click for the Site Index