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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Nuts and Bolts: Beat Generations. Mozart versus ABBA.

We all know that music affects us. It soothes many a savage breast, and it also sometimes persuades us to waggle ourselves about in the strange way we call dancing.

But how can you quantify this effect?

A study led by Hans-Joachim Trappe, of Ruhr University, The Cardio-Vascular Effect of Musical Genres. has measured the effect of the music of Johann Strauss the younger, WA Mozart, and the pop group ABBA on the blood pressure.

And the result?

Mozart and Strauss both lower the blood pressure, Mozart rather more than Strauss.

The music of ABBA doesn't alter the blood pressure at all.

Ah, you will say, but which pieces by Mozart, etc did the study use?

The study used about half an hour's music by each artist.

Mozart: Symphony No 40.

Strauss: Wiener Blut, Annen-Polka, Morgenblatter, Eljen a Magyar, An der schönen blauen Danube.

ABBA: Thank you for the Music, The Winner Takes It All, Fernando, One of Us, Angel Eyes, The Day Before You Came, So Long.

Interestingly, the musical tastes of the people studied didn't seem to have any effect at all on the results.

That's what happened. The study, surprisingly, also speculates as to why. They suggest that repetition, catchiness, pleasantness, skill of composition, few changes in volume or rhythm, unsurprising harmonies, familiarity of the genre, and the absence of spoken words (spoken words are processed in a different part of the brain from music, and this, it is suggested, may interfere with the effect of the music) all help with lowering the blood pressure.

So now I want to know what happens when you compare the Mozart 40th Symphony with the last act of Don Giovanni, for instance.

But mostly, I'm finding it very strange indeed to think that Mozart, who dies so long ago, can still literally change the action of my heart.

Word To Use Today: symphony. This word comes from the Latin symphōnia, concord or concert, from the Greek sun, together, and phōnē, sound.

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