How Does Music Affect The Brain?

Music affects the brain in that it is a powerful mood enhancer. It can intensify feelings, moods and emotions. If we want feelings of happiness and relaxation it is important to understand why and how music affects the brain.


How music affects the brain and body

Forty-three percent of adults suffer adverse health effects due to stress. Heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide are the six leading causes of death and are linked to stress. Other health problems caused or exacerbated by stress, include: pain, digestive problems, sleep problems, obesity, autoimmune diseases, skin conditions, and depression.

Music affects the amplitude and frequency of brain waves, serotonin levels, electrical resistance of the skin, and breathing rate. These physical and mental effects of music play a vital role in stress and depression reduction.

Baroque music for the brain and body

The era of Baroque began early in the 17th century and into the mid 18th century. Baroque music has been heavily researched over the last 30 years. This music, especially the slow 60 beats per minute adagio movements are known to accelerate learning as well as enhance both long and short-term memory. Research shows that Baroque music slows the heartbeat to a healthy rhythm and lowers blood pressure. Also, because beta (alertness/working) brain waves decrease by 6% and alpha (relaxed/reflecting) waves increase by 6%, a very powerful form of relaxation results.

Order is the key component which makes music beneficial. Order includes pitch and mood contrasts, repetition and changes, and certain patterns of rhythm. Mathematics is the key to the order of the music from the Baroque and Classical (1750 – 1828) periods. The mind and body perform better while listening to ordered music.

An old story

There is an old story about the positive effects of Baroque music. King George I of England suffered from memory loss and depression. After reading the story of King Saul from the Bible, he noted that Saul had also experienced similar problems and had overcome them through the use of a special kind of music. Hoping to surmount his problems, King George asked George Frederick Handel to write special music for him. This was the motivation behind Handel’s composition, Water Music.

Special note

Experiments on how music affects plants provide evidence that Baroque music actually increases the growth of plants, while rock music kills plants.

So what is your music doing to you?

Some selections of music to live by

1.   A. Scarlatti – Gavotte

2.   D. Scarlatti – Sonata

3.   JS Bach – Prelude from Cello Suite

4.   JS Bach – Allemande (Cello Suite 3)

5.   JS Bach – Gavotte (Cello)

6.   JS Bach – Be Thou Near Me

7.   Anon – Gavotte

8.   Anon – Trezza

9.   Anon – Allemande

10. Anon – Gigue

11. G. Brescianello – Entrée

12. G. Brescianello – Menuett

13. G. Sanz – Espagnoleta

14. G. Sanz – Rujero

15. Johann Logy – Sarabande

16. Johann Logy – Gigue

17. R. de Visee – Allemande

18. G. Platti – Allegro

19. S. de Murcia – Cancion O Tocata

20. S. Weiss – Bourree

21. Francisque – Branle

22. Count Bergen – Bourree

23. D. Kellner – Aria

24. G. Handel – Water Music

25. W. Mozart – Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major

Now that you understand how music affects the brain, I hope you will play the right tunes to help you relax when you are stressed and lift your mood when you’re feeling a bit blue. Life’s too short to waste time stressed and it’s too short to waste it on negative emotions.

Now go have fun and relax.

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