Music to my ears


Here’s a pleasant story from the BBC.  Music affects positively both physical and mental health.  I don’t suppose this will surprise anyone who thinks about it too much as I know it is certainly the case for me (well, as far as mood is concerned anyway – I never really considered the effect on physical health!).

Particularly the research from Pavia University near Milan tested the volunteers’ responses to classical music.

Every musical crescendo – a gradual volume increase – “aroused” the body and led to narrowing of blood vessels under the skin, increased blood pressure and heart rate and increased respiratory rates.

Conversely, the decrescendos – gradual volume decreases – caused relaxation, which slowed heart rate and lowered blood pressure.

image Euromagic at Flickr

It might be time to readjust some of the playlists on my Ipod. I wonder if the same is the case for more contemporary music – not that a strong dose of Puccini and Beethoven is anything other than positive.

Scienceblog publishes a few more of the details about the study which is printed in Circulation : Journal of  the American Heart Association and summarises the conclusions as follows.

  • Every crescendo led to increased narrowing of blood vessels under the skin, increased blood pressure and heart rate and increased respiration amplitude. In each music track the extent of the effect was proportional to the change in music profile.

  • During the silent pause, changes decreased, with blood vessels under the skin dilating and marked reductions in heart rate and blood pressure. Unlike with music, silence reduced heart rate and other variables, indicating relaxation.
  • Music phrases around 10 seconds long, like those used in “Va Pensiero” and “Libiam Nei Lieti Calici,” synchronized inherent cardiovascular rhythm, thus modulating cardiovascular control.


Music, as the article explains, has already been shown to reduce stress, boost athletic performance and increase resistance to pain and is and can be used through different therapeutic means.

As for me, I don’t doubt it for a moment. I wonder if Singstar ABBA will ever be used as a therapeutic tool.. I know it makes me feel better!

4 thoughts on “Music to my ears

  1. Interesting post cb. Music is often used as part of the self management toolkit by people with bipolar who are experienced enough to pick up early signs of mood changes. For example, if a person is going into a ‘low’ phase, upbeat, faster, very rhythmic music can help lift the mood, whereas if a ‘high’ is starting, the opposite, very soft, gentle slower music can help lower the mood.
    It doesn’t always help, but is generally more effective than the ‘warm bath with candles’ advice so beloved by many (if not all) cpns!

  2. I find that music helps me in my low moods and I do try to put some upbeat songs on..I love singing – I had some lessons a few years ago with a music teacher friend and found it actually it can be a good way to practice breathing. Sometimes wish more mental health therapies could involve music (for inpatients ).

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