Music the emotional, social, intellectual, and physical aspects of

Music is one of the few things that has remained constant through the centuries this world has existed. Not only does music provide entertainment, it also has several effects linked to it. Music allows emotions of happiness and sadness to arise. From those emotions, physical effects, negative or positive, can occur. Music has a profound effect on the emotional, social, intellectual, and physical aspects of a person. Emotions are easily affected by outside forces. Music can provoke emotions of sadness, grief, joy, and even ecstasy. There are several different aspects of music that change how a song is interpreted. From these interpretations come emotions. Among them is the tempo, which is the speed of the song. If a song is sad, the tempo is often slower. If a song is meant to be happy, the tempo is quick and light. If the intention of a song is to bring about fear, it is either extremely slow and eerie or quick and adrenaline pumping. Another factor of interpretation is the key it is in. A key is, “a particular scale or system of tones” ( There are 24 different keys that are separated into two categories. These categories are major and minor. The major are made up of more sharps, and the minor of more flats. The major key is used to express feelings of joy and happiness. The minor key however, is used to express feelings of sadness, depression, and regret. When the two are awkwardly combined, the key of the music changes to neither minor or major, and is referred to as a dissonance. A dissonance is defined as, “a simultaneous combination of tones conventionally accepted as being in a state of unrest and needing completion” ( When a passage of music uses a dissonance, the ultimate goal is to create fear and confusion.The memories associated with a specific song can also influence the emotions that arise (Vaidya 1). An event that occurred in the past could be associated with the music because it was played during that event, the lyrics relate, or a different connection is made. The personality of a person could also change the effects of the music (Vaidya 1). The life that is lived determines the personality traits one might have. One person might enjoy rock music, while another enjoys classical. Since everyone lives a different life, the genres of music listened to are obviously not the same. Rock music could be relaxing to the person who grew up listening solely to rock while another might find rock irritating and relaxes to classical music. Although one can relax to rock music, studies have shown that classical music has more positive effects than any other genre (O’Donnell 1).Because music has such a strong hold on human emotions, music therapy was eventually introduced. The area of science that deals with the physical effects of music is called music therapy. Music therapy is, “the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program” (AMTAc par. 1). The American Music Therapy Association writes that music therapy intervention can help explore feelings and self-esteem, make positive emotional changes, help with communication, improve problem solving skills, social interaction, and bring about positive behavioral changes. Music therapists know that music can help emotional, physical, social, communication, and cognitive needs (AMTAc par. 4).After the September 11th terrorist attacks, a new project entitled, “The New York City Music Therapy Relief Project”, was put into effect. The American Music Therapy Association started this project with support from many other places. In essence, this program helped young children and adults, living in New York City, cope with the aftermath of the attacks. The music therapy interventions lasted around 8 months with 33 music therapists assisting in the 7,000 music therapy interventions (AMTAd par. 4). Music can assist in solving several different problems including the roller-coaster of emotions following a crisis. In this project alone, thousands of people were helped using music therapy. Susan Shurin, an M.D., said, “music therapy enables people to sometimes put words together in ways that are hard for them to do otherwise. …The music seems to get through to the patient and in many ways it enables the patient to get through to us which may be very hard to do with any other modality” (AMTAd par. 10). Music provides an outlet so that feelings can be expressed, words can be spoken, and hearts can be mended. Music can also be used to lessen behavioral problems in children with disabilities and also children who are not disabled. Part C in Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was established in 1986. It states that every child with a disability must receive “Early Intervention” (Dowe 1). An early intervention implies that each child must attend therapy sessions of their choice while still a young child. Their beliefs are that by attending therapy at a younger age, problems will be fixed quickly and also more efficiently. Several therapies are deemed acceptable. Music theory was recently added to that list of acceptable therapies. Music therapy is used to increase self-esteem, make mood changes, and boost communications levels (AMTAc par. 4). Because their behavior changes, they are better able to connect, communicate, and interact with other children. The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) relates, “music is a form of sensory stimulation, which provokes responses due to the familiarity, predictability, and feelings of security associated with it” (AMTAb par. 2). By allowing a person to immerse themselves in music, they will relax and feel more comfortable with those around them. When they feel comfortable enough, they will be able to share their feelings and what might be troubling them. They will open up so that the music therapist can help them. Music is a medium that allows the therapist to connect with the patient in ways that could otherwise not be achieved.There are often children with speech impediments who struggle to be heard. Music has the unique ability of connecting with the brain so that the focus moves from on their speech to on the music. King George VI had a stammer. He visited several speech therapists, though none seemed to help him. It was when he went to Lionel Logue that he finally started progressing. Rosemary Hayhow, a speech therapist for The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, expounds, “Logue would play music to the King through headphones while he was reading, so that he couldn’t hear himself and become self-conscious, something known today as ‘masking'” (qtd. by Farndale par. 21). Although it might have seemed like the music was blocking his concentration, it was really making him focus on the music instead of his speech. The music “masked” his voice and made the stammer disappear altogether. Speech therapists also tell their patients to “sing” what they are trying to say (Farndale par.20). From using the melody of a song, the beat is more noticeable, it’s stronger. The melody of a song is more predictable making it so words can flow easier.The brain is affected by music. Although there is not a specific region that is used solely for music, several parts of different regions of the brain are active when listening to music (Weir par. 4). However, different genres of music affect the brain in different ways. Dr. John Diamond, a physician and psychiatrist, found a direct connection between muscle and the brain. When a patient listens to hard rock musicians – Led Zeppelin, Queen, Janis Joplin – the muscles in the entire body become weak. The brain also “switches”. This happens when, “the actual symmetry between both of the cerebral hemispheres is destroyed causing alarm in the body along with lessened work performance, learning and behavior problems in children, and a ‘general malaise in adults'” (O’Donnell 1). The brain is physically and permanently changed after listening to rock music, or music similar to it. On the other hand, classical music can positively affect concentration, physical problems, and the brain.In the 1950’s, Eugene Canby tested wheat. Each wheat plot listened to violin music by J.S. Bach. He discovered that “yields increased by 66%” (Wicke par. 7). Another experiment occurred in 1968 after Dorothy Retallack researched the effects of music on plants. Each plant was put in a different room and different music genres were played for several hours per day (O’Donnell 1). Popular genres were selected: “classical, jazz, pop, rock, acid rock, East Indian, and country” (O’Donnell 1, Wicke par. 8). Each genre of music had a positive effect with the exception of rock and acid rock. The plants listening to classical and jazz music were positively affected the most. They grew the most and were the healthiest. The rock and acid rock plants were negatively affected. “They had long stems and sparse leaf growth, some bending away from the source; after 19 days, most of these plants had died” (Wicke par. 9). The results from the plant experiment can also be said for humans. Alfred Tomatis, a French ear specialist confirmed that “the same frequencies and musical styles Retallack demonstrated to be beneficial for plants were also beneficial for humans” (Wicke par. 10). The music that was beneficial to the plants is music that produces feeling of relaxation, calmness, and attentiveness. These same feeling are created in humans. Music can be a strong tool for learning and eventual memorization. Children can connect music to shapes, numbers, state names, etc. We all recall singing the ABC’s to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. Learning it to a tune was easier because the information was divided into chunks. Instead of memorizing the ABC’s as a whole, each letter is being memorized with a corresponding note (USP par. 3). If a child is interested in what they are learning, they will be better able to remember what they have learned. Therapists state, “music is a form of sensory stimulation that provokes responses due to the familiarity, predictability and feelings security associated with it” (AMTAc par. 2). If the music can somehow connect with them so that they are interested in it, they will be able to retain the information better and longer. Research has shown that “music captures and helps maintain attention” (AMTAa par. 5). By taking the first initial step in capturing attention with music, the chances are higher that the attention will be maintained and the information learned will be retained for longer. Music affects the body in several physical ways. When listening to slow, calming music, breathing and heart rates drop making it easier to fall asleep (“Lullabies” par. 1). Music that is faster and louder can increase breathing and heart rates making the listener more awake and attentive. Music has the ability to relieve pain and reduce stress. Because of this, music can “address patient needs related to respiration, chronic pain, physical rehabilitation, diabetes, headaches, cardiac conditions, surgery, and obstetrics, among others” (AMTAb par. 2). When listening to music, the focus is on the music. In a person is in pain is listening to music; the focus on pain will disappear and instead immerse itself in the music (Fratianne 47-53). In the middle ages, physical effects were reaped using music as a therapeutic tool. Musicians were highly affected by music. Their whole soul was involved in music, every thought pertained to music. Berlioz, a composer, wrote,Music causes a strange commotion of my circulation; my heart beats violently; tears usually announce the end of the paroxysm and are sometimes followed by muscular trembling, shaking of the limbs, swelling of the feet and hands. . . I see no more; I scarcely hear; giddiness and almost fainting follow (qtd. by Savill par. 2). Each listener will have some kind of physical effect whether it is as simple as tapping a foot or as drastic as increasing heart rates. The physical effects can be lifesaving or life-threatening. Fast music could increase the heart rate; and for someone with heart conditions it could be life-threatening. However, slow music has a marvelous effect of calming and soothing. In the same situation, playing soft, slow music could decrease heart rates and release pressure on the heart making it easier for the patient to breathe. Music can be used to assist in several situations. Background music is commonly played while performing surgeries. This serves a dual purpose; the music soothes the surgeon making him relax and perform the surgery to the best of his abilities, while it also calms the patient and make them feel like everything is going to be okay. Similarly, when a person experiences a stroke, disco music is commonly used to remind the brain on how to make rapid music and waltz style music is often used to get fluid movements (“The Fourth” par. 4). Works CitedAMTA, . “Music Therapy and Individuals with Diagnoses on the Autism Spectrum.” American Music Therapy Association. AMTA, 2006. Web. 10 Jan 2012. .AMTA, . “Music Therapy and Medicine.” American Music Therapy Association. N.p., 2006. Web. 11 Jan 2012. .AMTA, . “American Music Therapy Association.” Music Therapy and Mental Health. N.p., 2006. Web. 12 Jan 2012. .AMTA, . “Music Therapy in Response to Crisis and Trauma.” American Music Therapy Association. AMTA, 2006. Web. 8 Jan 2012. .Darrow, Alice-Ann. “Early Childhood Special Music Education.” General Music Today 24.2 (2011): 28-30. ERIC. Web. 9 Jan. 2012.”The Fourth Essential of Life.” The Physical Effects of Music. N.p., n.d. 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