Music and its Effects



I have been fascinated by the effects music can have on the person since I was a child. I have always felt there was more to music than entertainment. One of my first memories along these lines was when I was a child my mother would gather my sister and me together to clean the house. Of course we would fuss and complain 'Oh no we can’t' 'we’re too tired' etc, etc.

Mom would then turn on the phonograph and start singing “Whistle While You Work”. The next thing I knew I would be well into cleaning and having fun doing it too. I remember thinking how does she do this. Well, she knew how to use the music

Over the years music has made me laugh, cry, it has run shivers up and down my spine, it has made me stand up at rock concerts and scream at the top of my lungs, it has brought back long forgotten memories, it has set the mood for making new memories and perhaps it has done things that researchers are only now starting to be aware of.

Music is a huge topic, which is why I was so reluctant to undertake the topic, but it is so fascinating that every time I tried to delve into another subject I kept getting pulled back to the music. Some people have spent their whole lives researching music I could probably take several hours to present what I have recently learned, but I won’t. What I would like to do is perhaps to encourage you to look at music a little differently, and recognize that it can be a powerful tool to use in enhancing your life, especially if used with some knowledge.

It seems that Mozart’s use of frequency, tone and tempo is the best to stimulate the brain to perform well academically. Dr Alfredo Tomatis, one of the top music researchers today, has found that universally music can calm listeners, improve spatial perception, stimulate and charge the motivational centers of the brain. He has also found that Mozart’s violin concertos create the greatest healing effect on the body.

There is a whole lot known about brain waves and what frequency and what hertz effect the brain and the body in what ways. Although I find it fascinating it is a bit dry when trying to explain it. I will touch on it a little in the presentation but if it is something you would like to know more about, Don Campbell does a very nice job explaining it in his book “The Mozart Effect”

Music and You   

Lets start out with a few definitions. Webster’s dictionary defines sound as that which is heard, resulting from stimulation of auditory nerves by vibrations carried in the air .

Music is defined as the art and science of combining sounds in varying melody, harmony, frequency and tempo, especially so as to form a complete and expressive composition.

Sound waves basically cause changes in air pressure as they move through the air. We all know that our ears gather these waves and process them as sound information There has been extensive research done with the deaf showing that our skin is quite tactile and responsive to sound waves also. Stand in front of a good speaker and play low bass. You can actually feel the sound currents, and can see or feel that our whole body can receive sound.

Music is a combination of many things to many people. Sometimes it is emotional sometimes it is entertaining, for some it creates a sense of balance and harmony and a oneness with nature. Sometimes it can transport us to a higher plane or a meditative mood, or, sometimes it can be down right annoying. When doing a massage there are two people involved in the music, the therapist and the client. It is advantageous that the music should be a positive experience for both persons.

In the beginning you were an ear. An embryo develops rudimentary ears within a few days of impregnation, when it is just .9mm long. The sophisticated cochlea, the organ of hearing is fully developed and has reached its ultimate size only four and a half months after fertilization. Our first sensory experience in life is as a fetus, in a womb, listening to the internal maternal body sounds of muffled voices, water swishing, blood pulsing, and the winds of respiration, all to the tempo of the heart beating. These sounds that become ingrained in our neonatal subconscious are called Primordial Sounds. There has been much research using these sounds. For example newborns, who for different reasons need to be hospitalized after birth were played a lullaby tape was made which incorporated the sounds of a mothers heartbeat into the music and played in a neonatal hospital ward. There was a 95% increase in positive outcomes. The babies gained weight faster, reached milestones sooner and survived surgeries to a greater extent than previously experienced

A very interesting thing happens when recordings of people speaking are speeded up or slowed down. If these recordings are doubled in speed three times (raising the pitch by three octaves) human speech sounds like birds chirping. When raised in speed by eight times these recordings sound just like crickets. When slowed down from normal speed by three octaves they sound like dolphins and down by eight octaves the sound like the ebb and flow of the ocean. These too are considered to be Primordial Sounds.

Even more amazing, recordings made of outer space sounds as the Voyager spacecraft passed by planets of our Solar System, were made and guess what they sounded like? Yes, dolphins, choir voices, crickets and ocean waves.

These primordial sounds are being used to access a deep level of the human body inducing not only relaxation but healing as well.

There is much scientific evidence to support the notion that even everyday music effects the body. Sometimes the effect is over-stimulating, sometimes it is relaxing, sometimes it is invasive, sometimes it is just there. Whatever our response is, music produces mental and physical effects. Not always will it have the same effect but some generalizations can be made and once we understand exactly what music does, we can learn to change our sound channels as effortlessly as we would our television channels to produce the effects we want.

Music can mask unpleasant sounds and feelings. Quiet baroque music can disguise or neutralize chaotic, penetrating sounds such as those of a dentist drill, traffic or other such annoying situations

Music can slow down and equalize brain waves. Music with a pulse of about 60 beats per minuet can slow the brain waves down from producing the normal beta-waves to the slower alpha- wave range, enhancing alertness and general calmness. Examples of this kind of music are Baroque and New Age. Shamanic drumming can take the listener into the theta-wave range resulting in altered states of consciousness. If you are unfocused, or in an emotional state of mind a little Mozart music for ten or fifteen minutes can help to steady your mind and increase your mental organization. If you are being a bit too analytical, some jazz or New Age can loosen you up.

Music affects respiration. Usually, we breathe at a rate of about 30 beats per minuet. Longer deeper breathe contributes to calmness, emotional control, and better metabolism Shallow fast breathing can lead to scattered thinking, making mistakes and accidents. By listening to slower music such as Gregorian chants or New Age , we can slow the breathing and allow the mind to calm down.

Music affects the heartbeat, pulse, and blood pressure. The heart rate responds to musical frequency, tempo and volume. Thus, to a degree, the faster the music, the faster the heart beats, and the higher the blood pressure is. Music, with a beat of about 55 hertz or less, can reduce blood pressure by as much as 5 points, and reduce heart rates by 5 beats per minuet.

Music reduces muscle tension. The auditory nerve connects the inner ear with all the muscles of the body , it easy to see how muscle strength, flexibility and tone are influenced by sound and music. Research shows that lower slower music effects the lower body an higher music effect the upper body. In some recovery wards and rehab clinics music is widely used to restructure and re-pattern repetitive movements.

Music affect body temperature. You guessed it--- strong beat--- higher temperature.

Softer music--- lower temperature.

Some studies have concluded that music such as movie sound track, religious music, marching bands and drum ensembles can increase endorphin levels.

Music can change perception of time and space, strengthen memory and learning. (How did you learn your ABC’s?) It can boost productivity, enhance romance and sexuality, stimulate digestion, and foster endurance and mental well being.

Like the commercial that boasts “our company doesn’t make the product, it just makes the product better “, music enhances so much of our lives.

Music is the master coordinator of the mind body and soul. It has been used since the earliest of times. In this day and age because of our technological advances, we are able to understand it and create it as never before. I expect to see music used in healing and preventative health care in the future much as Tylenol and Echinacea is being used today.

The Gregorian Chant is excellent for quiet study and meditation and can reduce stress.

Slower Baroque music (Bach, Handel, Vivaldi and Corelli) gives a sense of stability and order creating a mentally stimulating environment for study or work.

~ Classical Music (Hayden and Mozart) can improve concentration, memory and spatial perception.

Romantic Music (Schubert, Schumann, Tchaikowsky, Chopin and Lizst) can enhance sympathy, compassion and love.

Impressionist Music (Debussy and Ravel) can unlock your creative impulses.

~ Jazz, Blues, Soul Calypso Reggae can uplift, inspire, release joy and sadness.

~ South American Music can increase the heart rate and respiration.

~ Big Band and Top 40 can promote a sense of well being.

~ Rock Music by such artist as Elvis, the Rolling Stones or Michael Jackson can release tension, mask pain and reduce the effects of other loud noise. It can also create pain, tension and stress when we are not in the mood to be energized.

~ Ambient, attitudinal, or New Age music with no dominant rhythm, as seen in the works of Seven Halpern or Brian Eno, can induce a state of relaxed alertness.

~ Heavy metal, punk rap hip hop and grunge can excite the nervous system leading to dynamic behavior and self expression.

~ Religious and sacred music, including Shamanic drumming, church hymns, gospel music, and spirituals can ground us in the moment and lead to feelings of deep peace and spiritual awareness. It can also be very useful in helping us to transcend and release pain.