Music's Affects on the Human Body

     Music does many things for the human body including, masking unpleasant sounds and feelings, slowing down and equalizing brain waves, affecting respiration, affecting the heartbeat, pulse rate, and blood pressure, reducing muscle tension and improving body movement and coordination, affecting the body temperature, regulating stress-related hormones, boosting the immune function, changing our perception of space and time, strengthening our memory and learning, boosting productivity, enhancing romance and sexuality, stimulating digestion, fostering endurance, enhancing unconscious receptivity to symbolism, and generating a sense of safety and well-being. The next few paragraphs will address each way that music has an affect on our body so one can get a more full understanding of how something like music can affect our bodies in such a large way. (Campbell Index)

     Music masks unpleasant sounds and feelings in many ways. A simple example of how this is done is when you take a trip to the dentist. If you're going to get a root canal or something else that would involve a drill, you usually don't want to get it done because most people are terrified of drills, and the sound of the drill. And we all know the music the dentist plays in the office. We all dread it. But what we don't know is that it is this music that can most of the time disguise or even balance out the sounds of the dentist's drill. But what the music doesn't necessarily do is calm you down while you're in the waiting room waiting for the moment you go into that room, sit in the chair, and have the doctor start to drill away on your teeth. (Campbell 64)

     Music can slow down and equalize brain waves. There are 4 kinds of waves that the brain has. Beta waves, Alpha waves, Theta waves, and Delta waves. All of these waves are measured in hertz. Beta waves range from 14-20 hertz, Alpha waves range from 9 to 13 hertz, Theta waves from 4 to 7 hertz, and Delta from .5-3 hertz. When we focus on daily activities, or experience emotions that are strong, that's when Beta waves occur. Calmness and having a heightened awareness are part of the Alpha waves, and if you're in meditation, sleeping, or in an inspiring mood where you're very creative, that's when you're using theta waves, and when you're in deep sleep, and deep meditation, that's when delta waves are used. The slower the brain waves, the more relaxed, contended, and peaceful we feel. Common household music, medium paced music, generally has a pulse of about 60 beats per minute, which in turn can shift from the beta waves to the alpha waves. This is in certain types of music like Baroque, and New Age type music. This will increase alertness and things of that sort. If you're listening to a Shamanic drumbeat, your waves may drop into the theta range, which would in turn, alert your state of consciousness. Because a Shamanic drumbeat alters your hearing, because it's so different than other types of music. Different types of music, alert different waves, which then react differently, which makes you react differently. “If you are daydreaming or find yourself in an emotional, unfocused mood, a little Mozart or Baroque music in the background for ten to fifteen minutes can help to steady your conscious awareness and increase your mental organization.” There isn't any bias or opposing viewpoints on this part, mainly because it's all proven fact. One can't argue with what has already been proven, because it's right. Scientists now know that the brain reacts differently to different types of music. (Campbell 65,66)

     Music affects respiration, there's no doubt about it. Everyday breathing is rhythmic. When one breathes deep, and at a slow rate, this helps calmness, and lets you have a better control of emotions, you can think deeper, and speeds up your metabolism. If one breathes fast, quick, and shallow, it leads to that person having shallow scattered thinking, and you'll have more of a tendency to make mistakes in what you're doing while you're breathing so hard. (Campbell 66).

     The music you listen to affects the way you breathe and react to the music. If you react by dancing and banging your head around, you're usually listening to fast paced music, which will then speed up your breathing. (Campbell 67) Bias in this is that this doesn't happen for everybody. Some people listen to fast music and relax to it. I am one of those people. But that doesn't mean that the music still doesn't have an affect on my breathing. It really just depends on the music you listen to and who you are.

     Music affects the heartbeat, pulse rate, and blood pressure. It's pretty obvious how this works. From the previous paragraph where the breathing was affected, it's nearly the same thing. The heartbeat responds to sound and music just as we would. It picks up on the frequency, tempo, volume, and it tends to speed up according to the pace of the music. It's not necessarily going to go with the beat, but it will slow down or speed up to a fast or slow song, but only within a certain range. Because the heart can only go so fast or so slow and still be safe, and it sure wouldn't kill itself. Just like the breathing rates in the last paragraph, the slower heartbeat makes it so the mind is calm, it reduces stress and tension, and helps the body heal itself. There are studies on this particular statement, but nearly all the studies are the same. Two groups do one thing, one is exposed to either silence or a neutral music, and the other to the music you're trying to prove something for, and it comes out positive for the hard rock, or the elevator music, or whatever music one may have tested. The heartbeat, affects the pulse rate, because they're related, so that's how it affects the pulse rate. Music can change the blood pressure also. “Dr. Shirley Thompson, an associated professor of epidemiology at the University of South Carolina School of Public Health, reports that excessive noise may raise blood pressure by as much as 10 percent.” It's not likely that all the types of music you listen to will raise your blood pressure until it's unhealthy, these are just minor changes that don't really mean anything; it just shows what music can do to our body. (Campbell 67)

     Music reduces muscle tension and improves body movement and coordination. There was a study conducted in Colorado State University in 1991. twenty-four undergraduate women had to swing their arms and hit a target with an object on completion of the downswing. They played music during this and the researchers found that when the women coordinated their movements and swings with the beat, instead of going at their own rate, they had more control over their muscles, and it also enhanced their mood and motivation. (Campbell 69)

     Music affects the body temperature. For a very common example, think of a creaking screen door, or fingernails on a chalkboard, and how those noises send chills up your spine and give you Goosebumps and often make you shiver. All sounds and music can put out an influence on our body temperature and make our body adapt to changes in heat and cold. “Transcendent music can flood us with warmth. Loud music with a strong beat can rise our body heat a few degrees, while soft music with a weak beat can lower it. Music does this by influencing blood circulation, pulse rate, breathing, and sweating.” (Campbell 71)

     Music can regulate stress-related hormones. The level of stress hormones in the blood declines significantly in those listening to relaxing, ambient music report anesthesiologists. Sometimes this music can overcome the need for medication. People with hard stress related jobs often times go to music for relaxation. (Campbell 72)
     Music and sound can boost the immune function. Current research in immunology suggests that an insufficient amount oxygen in the blood may be a major cause of immune deficiency. Music comes into this problem simply. Music, can actually oxygenate the cells. “Buddha Gerace, a voice researcher in Lake Montezuma, Arizona, has developed vocal exercises that can increase the lymphatic circulation to as high as three times the normal rate. In fifty years of teaching voice, Gerace has witnessed many remarkable changes, and he credits his exercises with helping actor Henry Fonda boost his immune function and recover from vocal trouble during the Broadway production of Mister Roberts.” (Campbell 73)

     Music changes our perception of space. Music can do all kinds of wonderful things for us. It's a wonder why most people don't realize that music helps them that much. Some people listen to music all day, all the time, and they just think its music. It does something for them. That's what they say. But more people should fully understand that music might be the reason they haven't been sick in a year, or why they have such a low blood pressure for the way they eat.(Campbell 73)


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sic's Affects on the Human Body