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SOAS-University of London International Foundation Courses and English language Studies English Language and Academic Studies


Spring term 2012

How and why does music have power to affect a person`s emotional state?

Yuta Sato

The power of music It is hard to imagine anything more that exemplifies the fundamental and ubiquitous expression of life than music, from the childhood memories of singing with joy in the classroom, to a spring night listening to the sound of music coming from the radio. As Plato memorably exclaimed rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul (, undated). The power of music need not merely be just for entertainment purposes as worthy as this is, but also to show its unique ability to affect our cognitive states on many levels. This paper considers the history of music and focuses upon several aspects such as how music has the capacity to lift and inspires souls, and can actually heal people. To begin with, music is a vibration of compressed air traveling forward. For instance, imagine ripples in a pond. When a stone is dropped into a pond, it elicit a constant flow of waves which moves backwards and forwards. Sound waves react in a similar way with sound vibrations reverberating and diminishing back into the silence from which the sound arose. As an example, a study conducted by the Swedish scientist Hans Jenny demonstrated that the effect of sound created different patterns in sand in an experiment involving a pane of glass and layer of sand. She placed sand over thin glass plates and created various patterns in the sand in response to musical vibrations (Mannes,2011). The higher sound resulted in more complex pattern of music whereas lower sound formed simple shapes. Music is said to be the universal language and the origin of the prehistory of the music has been in existence for 50,000 years according to the data collected by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The first music may have been invented in Africa and then evolved to become both fundamental and pervasive to all people of at the world. (Wallin,2000)

Music has primal power. The original prehistory of music has been seen go back as far back as the birth of our universe. Some of the earliest known musical instruments such as crane bone flutes from Jihusite in China where humans lived from 200 to 5700 B.C. produced a tonal scale. Another discovery by Aricheologists in Slovenia recently, extracted a flute that has been fashioned from the femur (thigh bone)of a bear by the Neanderthals. These archaic flutes from 36,000 years ago more than twice as old as cave paintings in Lacal France and they still can create a remarkable sound and aesthetic melody. Music can trigger our emotions in some profound ways. Music, in general terms, is a flow of sound vibrations that stimulates our body/mind experience. The sound of music pervades the body, leaving with us a deep feeling of intimacy. These psychological findings can be scientifically demonstrated and show various inner-gesture responses to music. For instance a higher adrenaline level, increased heartbeat, and tearful emotions are often result of immersing your self in a musical composition(Justlin and Sloboa, 2010). The melody of legendary artists and contemporary artists have captivated people`s emotions. Elvis is regarded as one of the most influential figure in the history of contemporary pop music. Elvis Presley earned his name as the king of rock and roll in the 20th century. People loved Elvis for his charisma, kindness, handsome demeanor which he embraced throughout his career (Guralnic, 1994) Most importantly, the combination of sound and style that he portrayed challenged the social and racial barriers of the time and soothed the shackles of the past as he introduced a new wave of sound into people souls. In addition to the captivating Elvis, Another musical phenomenon emerged from Liverpool in the United Kingdom The Beatles. Their enchanting melodies were one of the most inspirational cultural forces of the

twentieth-century. Originally, the Beatles approach to making music was unique. It was a mixture of both American rock and roll and R&B. Both these where the core of their musical inspirations. They always focused upon the their aim and authenticity. The Beatles lyrics were written based on universally agreed-upon common language. Often their language was the colloquial language of the streets and every day communications(Rodrigues&Shea,2007).And as such, their quality of their music was not only enriched but also it reached out to many audiences across the world. Music has ability to bond people together. In Japan, Mr. Children is one of the renowned rock bands. On 8 July 2003, a sold out crowd of 45,000 fans came to their concert in Osaka. Immediately, there was a delightful interaction between the audience and the band. As the audience sang with the band, there was an instinctive bond between the crowd and the band. This strong bond provided aesthetic beauty of the song in which can only be portrayed through the music. Inspiring and the rejuvenating effect of music can be seen with soilders marching into the battle. The soldiers would march and sing a song with simple rhythm and melody. This universal tradition would inspire them with determination and resolve and has a historical precedent. Similarly, fans of a football team would chant their favorite soul stirring anthems with the intention of inspiring both their team and themselves(Clarke & Clarke,2011). Historically speaking, music can widely be seen to have a transforming effect on humanity. The another example is the pied piper of Hamelin. This story exemplifies the mesmerizing effect of music. The Pied Pieper was recruited by the town, his duty being to lure away rats with his magical flute. Such was the power of those notes that both rats and child alike were instinctively enchanted by the hypnotic sound of his

instrument(shute,2009). Music influenced the course of history during the anti-Vietnam war. Folk-song movement can be seen in the early in the 1960s by well known artists such as Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. They contributed relatively small but dedicated audiences. Songs like the Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol by Bob Dylan , and Birmingham Sunday were portrayed the losses of people`s freedom of speech. Most famous song was by Body Dylan in the wind demonstrated the African americans were forbidden from social norms and seeked the day of equal rights between white and black people. ( Moreover, one of the most memorable songs had impact in the 1968. The escalation of protest commenced when the half of million troops were drafted to Vietnam war. This often was the era for the youth protestants. Youth protested against dictatorship. The song written by Joe MacDonald. the lyrics were you can be first one on your block to have your body come home in a box(

A fundamental of music can be noticed in the common variations of movement. In many pieces of music walking, and running are exemplified by rhythm that mimics those activities. The average walking step, especially when organized as a march, is 120 steps to the minute. The natural walking rate and rhythm of a group of people walking along can , for example, be heard in the rhythm of piece of music. Beethoven`s symphony not.9 main theme, finale at 112 suggesting a comfortable walking rate. most marches are set to tempo. keep in mid that if the tempos set to 120, the basic pulse is actually given by the first and third beats. And the normal resting human heart rate is 60 to 80(Snyder,2000). Other studies showed that a faster tempo raised heart rate regardless of the

genre of music such as pop, hip-hop, classical or Indian ragas. Scientists emphasize that we can assume that various music has the various effects on us. For example not all music we listen to will be relaxing. Heavy metal or hard rock or hip pop can actually raise heart rates. Music is linked with universe and connected to our life. The origin of musical movement in space was first introduced by Greek philosopher Pythagoras. Pythagoras believed that music is connected with movements of the sun, moon, and planets. The totality of all of the spaces between planets was equal to six wholes tones. Thus, spheres were believed to be related to the whole-number ratios of musical intervals. Then, Plato and Aristole further built on the wisdom of Pythogras that the whole of heaven is a musical scale and a number. Recent study, incidentally, conducted by NASA experiments confirmed that planets do make sound waves as they move and their gravitational fields pulls (Mannes,2011). NASA experimented using voyager space probes and extracted the electronic magnetic vibrations of planets and recorded them within the human hearing range of twenty to twenty thousand cycles. The whole earth has a hum, (sound vibrations) As does and every object have a natural frequency to vibrate. Jewish and Christian communities are renowned for communicating spiritual truths in soul rousing displays of vocal devotion to god. Similarly, Hindus sang devotional songs called kirtans in their worship. As do Ethiopians in their devotional music. The story of Ehiopia`s Sain Yared is a classic myth symbolizing the power of healing through music. Yared sang to the emperor and when the emperor`s spear pirced Yared`s foot, Yard felt no pain. The bible describes David playing his harp to ease king Saul`s physical and mental suffering(Till,2010). Recently, although music in the field of medicine is relatively new,

scientists are convinced that music will be utilized as a prescription in the near future. In the past, ancestors regarded that music is for healing. For instance, Ghanaian healers use a belief system that incorporated music to ease pain. Music can be an effective tool to cure diseases, In modern hospitals, the use of musical treatment has been implemented to ease pain and reduce the amount of anesthesia needed for the surgery. In England, patients listened to classical music while undergoing local anesthesia recovered more rapidly and reported fewer side effects after the cure. In Canada, patients with chronic severe headaches experienced reduced need for medication after they listened to concert music for over a six month period (Mannes,2011). UMass memorial Health care, harp music is often prescribed in place of tranqulizer for cancer patient. In Texas, women reportedly needed less anethsia during child birth when listening to music. At Cleveland Clnic, studies show that when surgical patients listened to recorded music, it decreased their post surgical pain four fold. Live- music therapy decreased anxiety 56.73 percent for chemotherapy patients, while those without therapy saw an increase in anxiety of 11 percent. More recently, it has been discovered that a small part of the brain is responsible for musical and emotional memory. The study conducted by Micheal Thaut indicated that when we listen a song, we do not only remember the pattern of a song but also recognize the temporal structure of the song. Connie Tomaino at the institution of music and Neurologic Function worked with an elderly women who clearly had little memory left for most details for her life. Nevertheless, when Connie played a melody from an old Italian song from her accordion, the women immediately played the song back on an electronic keyboard. She was accurately able to play the notes from the keyboard. As according to Tomanio, who states the correlation between musical power and the brain- music is able bring memory back to life.

The Cleveland Clinic has conducted studies looking at how music changes heart rate and blood pressure. One study examined how heart rate and blood pressure change relative to tempo. Subjects listened to music sample of different tempos but with the same pitch. The results showed that heart rate went down no matter the tempo. Normally, when you breathe in, Your heart rate goes up, and when you breathe out your heart rate goes down. This is called heart rate variabity. In a study in which people listened to soothing harp music, their heart rates consistently went down. But their systolic blood pressure went up then down again. When the music paused. What happened was that a rhythmicity in the heartbeat varied with the music. The heart beat sped up with the music and slowed down with the music. There has been breakthrough research in a field called social neuroscience that has shown the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC is the brain region for sel-referential activity. This particular area is function for our sense of self feel emotion, think and infer what others are thinking. Medial prefrontal cortex is the last area of the brain to atrophy Alzheimer`s disease. Peter Janta, cognitive neuroscientist, experimented how much musical tonality is mapped in the prefrontal cortex. In doing so he used fMRI brain imaging to test subjects` responses to music that stiumulte strong autobiographical memories. As a result, Janta discovered that what seems to happen is that a piece of familiar music serves as a sound track for mental movie that starts playing in our heads. Thus, Janta theorized that MPFC is commanding center for our emotions, memory, and non musical memory.

In conclusion, although music is young field of study, it is an integral part of humanity. This essay has argued that the sensibility and art of music serve more than just purely for entertainment purposes. The music has profound impact on our imagination, our spirit, our culture, our history, our

medicine and physiology. The element of music include rhythm, tone and movement. It can trigger our emotional core. It has ability to consolidate people into a group to demonstrate against dictatorship. It can form an identity show the common emotional qualities that people belong. It can effectively cure and ease diseases.

Reference No author . Febuary 2012) Mannes, R. & Patel, D.A.(2011) The Power of Music New York:Walker publishing company.

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