On wings of gold

11 June 2015

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Music does indeed have charms to soothe a savage breast.

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Research shows that even high-tempo rock, such as  the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Power of Equality, can lower heart rate and blood pressure.   Music with a 10-second rhythm that mirrors the patterns of the cardiovascular system has a calming effect, particularly when volunteers were played Guiseppe Verdi’s Va pensiero (Chorus of the ­Hebrew slaves).

Music is used in many situ­ations such as in surgery but the music is not properly chosen: “…it’s someone else’s idea of what’s soothing,” said Peter Sleight of the University of Oxford. His interest was piqued when he discovered Ave Maria sung in Latin had 10-second phrases that co­incided with the rhythm by which the brain regulates the heart rate.

With colleagues at a hospital in Pavia, Italy, he played in random order to 24 volunteers six different styles of music found to have similar 10-second phrases, including the Chili Peppers , Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Indian sitar ragas and the Italian club DJ Gigi D’Agostino’s You Spin Me Round.

We were surprised to find it had nothing to do with the musical performance and it worked for everyone — if they heard a 10-second rhythm, it had a calming effect.

Verdi3

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