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Inspirational Story of the Week:Classical Symphonies Can Synchronize Heart, Lungs,& Electric Impulse

An Article By The Good News Network...

The perfect synchronicity of a classical symphony has the power to similarly synchronize the movement, heart rate, breathing rate, and the electrical conductivity of skin between audience members,

The beautiful finding comes from a study of 132 people and three classical pieces: Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Op. 104 in C minor,” Brett Dean’s “Epitaphs,” and Johannes Brahms’ “Op. 111 in G major.”

Previous studies, the authors note, have shown that music may be able to induce synchronization in listeners, but there has been little investigation into whether concert audiences become synchronized.

Most synchronization in humans is caused by a direct social interaction with another person and is typically found in breathing or walking.

Professor Wolfgang Tschacher and his colleagues at the University of Bern in Switzerland observed 132 people whilst they listened to a string quintet of the three pieces whilst monitoring them in several ways.

Participants’ movement was tracked with overhead cameras and their physical responses with wearable sensors. They were also asked to fill out a questionnaire about their personality and mood.

The authors observed significant synchronization between audience members for movement, heart rate, breathing rate, and the electrical conductivity of skin (which indicates arousal of the sympathetic nervous system). The greatest level of synchronization was seen in the breathing rate.

Additionally, the personality traits of a listener were associated with their likelihood of synchronizing physical responses—those with agreeableness or openness traits were more likely to become synchronized, whilst those with neurotic or extravert traits were less likely to become synchronized.

These are four of the “Big Five” personality traits, with openness being typical of creative types, and agreeableness found in people who find tension and conflict very difficult.

The authors note that they experienced gaps in data collection due to prioritizing wearer comfort over data quality when choosing sensors, and suggest that more reliable data collection methods are necessary for future studies.

Music in general is a fascinating phenomenon. While frequencies can vary significantly between sounds, all sounds we detect in our reality fall essentially within 12 music notes, or more fractionally, on microtones between those 12.

Some of those 12 notes will at certain times blend frequencies with other notes in a non-disruptive way. “Off-pitch” or “out of tune” notes are deeply disturbing in a musical ensemble as complicated as a symphony, and humans have the ability to pick them out with ease.

With each additional musician and instrument into the ensemble, the task of ensuring all notes arrive with one another in harmony increases in difficulty, and is perhaps why attentive listeners begin to follow the music with their physiology—the necessity of all parts fitting together is imperative to an enjoyable performance.


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