Musics Effect On A Listeners Body

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Music is able to move the soul, and is so powerful it can send strong influences through the listener’s body and mind. As mentioned in Common Culture by Editors Michael Petracca and Madeleine Sorapure “[Music] can take us over completely – mentally, physically, emotionally” (235). Some music can calm a listener down, while some can make a listener wild. Music is used in a variety of ways. In the online article by Elizabeth Scott, M.S., Music and Your Body: How Music Affects us and Why Music Therapy Promotes Health she stated that “Research has shown that music has a profound effect on your body and psyche.” In fact, there’s a growing medical field known as Music Therapy, which uses music to heal. In the article Music Therapy also by Elizabeth Scott, M. S.. Music Therapy is defined as a “branch of health care designed to aid physical and emotional health through the use of music, either with listening, song writing, performing, exploring lyrics or other activities related to music.” Music therapy is a new alternative to traditional methods, with many positive findings. Research is finding music therapy is able to help cancer patients, children with ADD, and even hospitals are beginning to use music to help with pain management, to help ward off depression, to promote movement, to calm patients, and to ease muscle tension.

There are some downsides to music therapy. Music has been found to cause sickness. The right or wrong music can be like poison to the body. In the article “What Effects does Music Have on the Brain?” discussed how “studies have been done on plants where loud hard rock music, for instance, killed plants and soft classical music, made the plants grow faster… certain types of music over prolonged periods in certain conditions, were shown to cause seizures.”

According to the article The Effects of Music on Brain Perception by Sarah Greer music therapy did not begin to develop until World War I and World War II. Musicians would go to veteran’s hospitals to play for veterans suffering from both physical and emotional trauma from war. “Hospital doctors and nurses observed the positive psychological, physiological, cognitive, and emotional responses when veterans actively and passively engaged in music activities to relieve pain.”

Music with a strong beat can stimulate brainwaves, with faster beats bringing sharper concentration and more alert thinking, and a slow tempo promoting calm, soothing state. The change that music can bring with brainwave activity levels, allows the brain to shift speeds more easily on its own, which means that music is able to create lasting benefits to a listeners state of mind, even after one has stopped listening. Along with changes in brainwaves come alterations in other bodily functions, such as those controlled by the autonomic nervous system, breathing and heart rate. Music can bring about slower breathing, slower heart rate, and trigger “the relaxation response” (Scott) by using a slow, steady tempo, which provides the prevention of damaging effects of chronic stress, a state of ongoing physiological arousal and perceived pain. This training is called the entrainment principal, which involves “bodies that are vibrating in slightly different ways that eventually catch up with each other to vibrate simultaneously. [This is done] by first matching the music to the heartbeat, then slightly altering the music tempo so that the heart rate follows the same beat of the music.”(Greer) Music can also bring listeners to a more positive state of mind, helping reduce depression and anxiety. This may help “prevent the stress response” (Scott) and help with creativity and high levels of hopefulness. Music has been found to lower blood pressure, which can reduce the risk of strokes and other health problems over time, boost immunity, therapy for seizures, treat children with ADD, treat mental illnesses and insomnia, and premature infants and ease muscle tension.

An estimated “35 to 75 million people in the United States suffer from type of pain problem. Chronic pain is considered one of the most costly health problems in America, totally more than $50 billion each year” (Greer). With so many people living with pain, it is no surprise that research is being done on alternative pain relievers, besides the traditional “remedies”. A study was done with cancer patients who had undergone bone marrow transplants, they participated in music-assisted relaxation, the music reported reducing the pain and nausea, and furthermore the new bone marrow took hold faster, 13.5 days, than patients who received no music therapy, 15.5 days. Besides the relaxation response to help with perceived pain for patients physically and psychologically after being hospitalized; which arises from physical stress from surgery, as well as, “emotional stress due to unexpected news, unfamiliar environments and a sense of losing control” (Greer). There are three other theories about how music therapy positively affects perceived pain: “music serves as a distracter, music may give the patient a sense of control, and music causes the body to release endorphins to counteract pain” (Greer). In the song by Bob Marley Trench Town Rock he said it best with the lyrics “One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain.”

There are numerous genres of music all of which can match different needs. Heavy metal and hip-hop, are able to excite one’s nervous system, and can sometimes lead one into acting out dynamic behavior and self- expression. From artists like Elvis Presley and the Rolling Stones, rock is able to stir passion and activity, and is able to release daily tension. Rock is also capable of masking pain and covering up unpleasant noises. On the downside rock possesses the power to create dissonance, stress or even physical pain if a listener is not in the mood for energizing. Any form of South American music, such as salsa or rhumba sets a listeners heart racing, and gets them moving. It is able to relax and awaken a listener at the same time. Country engages listener’s emotions and creates comfort. Jazz, blues, and soul is uplifting and inspiring, these genres release deep joy or even deep sadness. Romantic artists such as Frederic Chopin can enhance a listener’s senses and increase a sense of sympathy and love. Religious music, such as hymns and gospel moves a listener to feel grounded in the moment, and leads to deep peace and spiritual awareness. Sacred music often helps one to transcend pain.

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