Music plays a very important role in our culture. We use it everywhere – during celebrations like weddings, during prayer, at funerals, and as background music during day to day activities like jogging, studying, etc. Science has determined that as humans, we are the only species to actually comprehend music to the fullest degree. While some higher primates, dogs, horses, and other animals have shown a crude understanding of music, they can’t quite wrap their head around concepts like rhythm, tempo, melodies, and timing and therefore don’t perceive music the way we do.
Out of the many things we derive from music, one important one is relaxation. For centuries, music has been used by humans all across the globe as a way to relax and destress. That is the reason why lullabies put children to sleep or slow tempo music help people meditate or upbeat music uplifts your mood. Facts like these and more have proven it over and over again that music has a profound effect on one’s emotions and the body. While we’ve always known that music helps with relaxation, now the science is out on why that might be so.
What does the science say?
There’s plenty of scientific research studying links between music and its positive effect on our health. A study conducted by McGill University, Quebec, says that listening to music not only helps people in de-stressing, it also boosts their immunity! The study further explains that music helps in reducing the stress hormone ‘cortisol’ in our bloodstream. And it increases the production of immunoglobulin A which is responsible to fight off harmful bacteria and germs. Unbelievable, right? Who would have thought that listening to Micheal Jackson can actually heal the world! Many other similar studies have shown that music helps reduce anxiety, slowing our pulse and heart rate and lowering blood pressure. In short, it is an amazing stress-management technique.
What kind of music helps?
Just like how people have food preferences, depending on our individual taste preferences, music too is taste oriented. Although it is widely accepted that sounds of nature have a soothing effect. So for example, you may find the sound of rain or water stream relaxing, similarly chirping bird sounds help slow down our mind and release stressful thoughts. In fact, a lot of people play forest sounds, comprising a mix of rustling leaves, ocean waves and thunderstorm sounds, to meditate better.
Interestingly, it has been observed that the human mind associates certain feelings and emotions with certain tones and scales in music. In Western Classical Music, there are major scales and minor scales. Usually, major scales evoke happier, brighter emotions whereas minor scales are often employed to set sad, melancholic moods. While this is not always strictly true, these scales are often used cleverly to evoke certain feelings. For instance, the chords C major and G major induce happy feelings in people. They are used in the famous nursery rhyme – Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. Whereas A major and C major are often used in pop and rock music They are used in the song Tomorrow Never Knows by The Beatles. Similarly, other chords like E-flat major or F sharp induce more of a tragic or sad feeling, prominently observed in the background score of The Lord of The Rings films.
So now you know why music is such an integral part of so many cultures across the world. Not only is it one of humanity’s greatest creative achievements, but it also has such amazing therapeutic effects on us. It can influence our moods and emotions, help us relax and perhaps even boost our immunity! Do you listen to music to take the edge off? Tell us in the comment section!
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