Music exists and has changed enormously from time to time, regardless of the century and the location. It can be considered as in different forms which scattered around the world among races. According to the definition from the Cambridge English Dictionary, music in noun means an arrangement of sounds which made by voices, computers, instruments or consolidation of them, for giving pleasure to those who listen. The word ‘Music’ in English is derived from the ancient Greek word μουσική, which means the art of the goddess muse. Apart from random sounds or noises, music delivers imagination and hope through hearts and love. It is a symbol, that expresses what people think and it is purposeful and connotative.
Music becomes the utmost importance for us nowadays. In Audio Monitor US 2018, a joint study of American music habits, Music Biz and AudienceNet surveyed 3,000 consumers aged 16 and over in the United States. The study found out that, on average, Americans spend 151 minutes a day listening to music. As we spent nearly 3 hours per day listening to music, which took a huge part of our life, how does music affect our lives actually? It is in a good or a bad way?
Music plays a role in benefits us mentally. Listening to music help reduces stress, which would bring great benefits to health, as stress can increase the risk of heart disease, obesity, depression, gastrointestinal problems, asthma, or aggravate the patient’s condition. The death rate of work stress may be higher than the mortality rate of diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and influenza. From the study ‘The Effect of Music on the Human Stress Response’, participants which are sixty healthy female volunteers, on average 25 years old, were randomly assigned to one of three different conditions before receiving the standardized psychosocial stress tests: 1) Relaxation music (‘Miserere’, Allegri), 2) The sound of rippled water, and 3) the rest without acoustic stimulation. Salivary cortisol and salivary alpha-amylase, heart rate, respiratory sinus arrhythmia, subjective stress perception, and anxiety were repeatedly evaluated in all subjects. The study result showed that music listening impacted the psychobiological stress system. Listening to music before a standardized stressor predominantly affected the autonomic nervous system (in terms of a faster recovery) and to a lesser degree the endocrine and psychological stress response. Listening to relaxed concerts before the stress task affects the biological stress response domain differently while listening to relaxing music before stressors do not reduce endocrine stress, but tends to increase it. In addition, music listening helps the autonomous nervous system(ANS) recover more effectively from stressors. while ANS is a complex group of neurons that mediate internal homeostasis without conscious intervention or voluntary control. The cells of the ANS dominate all of the viscera and locally affect their activity as well as mediate global changes in the metabolic state of the organism. ANS maintains blood pressure, regulates breathing rate, affects digestion, urinates, and modulates sexual arousal.
Moreover, sound therapies have long been considered a good way to relieve stress. Music is used to help people improve their happiness and improve their physical condition for centuries. The latest research by British neuroscientists, Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson from Mindlab International lists a list of songs that are most helpful in decompression. The researchers recruited the subjects and let them wear sensors. To let the subjects feel the pressure, the researchers asked them to solve complex puzzles in a very limited time. While solving the puzzle, the subject will hear different music. Next, the researchers used sensors to observe changes in the physical and mental state of the subject, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate, after listening to music. Dr. David collected 10 songs that were most helpful in decompression and he said that the most effective song had found this time was Weightless, which reduced the subject’s anxiety by 65%. As Lyz Cooper, founder of the British Academy of Sound Therapy said: ‘This song contains a constant rhythm, starting at 60 times per minute and gradually slowing down to around 50. At the time of listening, your heart rate gradually reached this point. This is a phenomenon called ‘entrainment.’, a decrease in heart rate leads to a decrease in blood pressure. Cooper said that the gap between the notes ‘has been selected to create a feeling of excitement and comfort. There is no repeating melody, which can completely shut down your brain because you no longer try to predict what will happen next.’ This song was actually created to reduce stress and this is a collaboration between the band and a group of sound therapists.
On the other hand, Listening to music can create peak emotions and increase the amount of dopamine, a specific neurotransmitter produced in the brain that helps control the brain’s reward and recreation centers. A study in the Music Therapy magazine shows that using songs can increase the emotional understanding of children. The purpose of the study was to determine the effectiveness of background music and lyrics in understanding emotional behavior in autistic children. Results showed that all participants had a significant improvement in their understanding of the four emotions selected, children with autism in this study responded positively to music, so the treatment conditions using background music and lyrics were more effective than the two control conditions without music. These results reveal that background music and lyrics are effective interventions to enhance emotional understanding and behavior in children with autism, and it indicates that participants can perceive the emotions expressed in music. In addition, the lyrics convey information about emotions and may improve participants’ emotional understanding. According to the parent’s report, participants also found that the two musical conditions were more enjoyable than the oral control of the contact control conditions alone. These findings prove that music can be an important tool for teaching emotional understanding in children with autism.
Furthermore, another study ‘Effects of music and music therapy on mood in neurological patients’ shown that music-based activities can represent effective and non-side-effect interventions for reducing mental and behavioral disorders associated with neurological disorders, and also for promoting functional recovery. Specifically, the most important outcomes of psychological interventions in music can be identified in areas that are more closely related to emotions, especially those that reduce depression and anxiety, as well as improved emotional expression, communication, and interpersonal skills. From a neurochemical point of view, we know that music can activate edge and marginal structures, such as the amygdala, hippocampus, nucleus accumbens, etc., which play an abnormal role in patients with high depression. Finally, from a rehabilitation perspective, making music can involve and influence the operation and regulation of the sporting area. This effect seems to be related to pleasure, which can positively affect emotions and thus affect the healing process.
Music could also affect our physical health. Music training has proven to improve a variety of different skills, such as memory and space learning. In addition, language skills such as language memory, literacy, and verbal intelligence have proven to benefit from music training. The memory could be improved from listening to music, from the study ‘The cognitive effects of listening to background music on older adults: processing speed improves with upbeat music, while memory seems to benefit from both upbeat and downbeat music’, music found that the performance of the processing speed task was improved when music was played in the background. Background concerts affect different memory performance, unlike the processing speed task, in the case of plot and semantic memory tasks, both ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ background music conditions cause significant performance advantages over silent and white noise conditions. Thus, this study showed the possibility that any type of background music can promote memory performance.
Besides, improving music memory training through music is not directly related to the skills needed to develop a particular career, but learning a musical instrument can teach students how to learn more effectively. In a study of 40 low-income Chicago newcomers, people involved in school music courses were found to be more responsive to sound stimuli than sports clubs. Music training is also associated with improving language skills and overall brain development. Moreover, learning an instrument can further increase young people’s computing and literacy skills.
Another study ‘Music training alters the course of adolescent auditory development aims to assess the effects of adolescent neurodevelopment and certain forms of experience (such as music training) on this process. The results show that both groups, the music-trained team, and Junior Reserve Officer Training team, have improved in all language tasks, including creating new words by removing syllables or unit sounds from spoken words, etc., as expected during the development of this period. However, the music-trained team’s phonological awareness tasks have improved even more. For those who participate in music training, the brain area responsible for auditory processing is evolving compared to those areas where military training is conducted. People who have been trained in music also show a time course of accelerating adult cortical development. Therefore, the results show that participation in music training can accelerate brain development, which is conducive to literacy skills.
The areas of the brain that support and retrieve memories can also serve as a hub for connecting familiar music, memory, and emotions. A 2009 study by Petr Janata of the University of California found that when we experience emotionally important episodic memories that are emotionally triggered by songs we are familiar with in the past, part of the brain ‘connects music and memory.’ In other words, the music we are familiar with can allow people to regain deep and meaningful memories from their past. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself through the formation of life connections and can be influenced by the harmony of music and the brain. ‘What seems to happen is that a familiar piece of music can be used as a soundtrack for a spiritual film that begins to play in our minds. It recalls the memory of someone or somewhere, and you may suddenly see that person’s face in your mind. ‘Janata said. ‘Now we can see the connection between these two things – music and memory.’
Falling is a serious medical problem, especially for people over the age of 65; in fact, one in every three elderly people suffers at least one fall in a year. According to Harvard Health Publishing ‘Music and health’, A 2011 study showed music could give a hand. The subjects were 134 men and women aged 65 and over who were at risk of falling, but did not have serious neurological and orthopedic problems, limiting walking. Half of the volunteers were randomly assigned to a program to train them to walk and perform various musical moves promptly while others continued their daily activities. At the end of six months, ‘Dancers’ showed better gait and balance than their peers – and their declines were also reduced by 54%. Similar music exercise programs seem to improve the mobility of patients with Parkinson’s disease.
‘Music and health’ also shown strokes could help with music in a 2008 study, 60 patients participated, they received standard stroke care; in addition, one-third of the patients were randomly assigned to listen to at least one hour of music per day, another third to audiobooks, and the last group did not receive auditory stimulation. After three months, the speech memory of the music audience increased by 60%, compared with 18% for the audiobook group and 29% for those who did not receive auditory stimulation. In addition, the ability of music listeners to perform and control mental operations – a concentration-focused skill – increased by 17%, while other patients did not improve at all.
Music brings people together. Whether which important moments in our lives, music seems to make us closer to each other and help us to be together as a community. For example, when you attend a concert or music festival, you are not worried about who is standing by your side. Listen to music, feel the lyrics flowing through your body and ignite each bone. No matter who you are, you can get your own story from the song, and share it with others. No one is worried about the background, culture, ethnicity, or how they identify themselves; most people who attend concerts and music festivals cannot judge others. They have just enjoyed themselves with the crowd and danced to the music.
However, it got prove of listening to music with others is better. From Greater Good Magazine, studies have shown that researchers who perform music have higher pain thresholds than listening to music alone. Listening to music and singing together directly affects the neurochemicals in the brain, many of which play a role in intimacy and connectivity. And it could be particularly effective by releasing endorphins. As music performance produces greater positive emotions, one way to suggest that people feel closer together when playing music together is through endorphin release. In addition, people sit side by side and tend to coordinate better with music. Research by Scott Wiltermuth and Chip Heath at Stanford University shows that ‘listening to music and coordinating their musical moves can work better together and be more generous with others when participating in economic games’.
Music is a power that cannot be seen. It affects how do we think, how do we feel, even how do we learn and recover. Music also unites us, it is a universal language that awakens emotions and unique feelings. Sometimes, even if we hear someone singing in an unknown language, we can still feel what they want to express, even if we don’t know what the lyrics mean. Get well use of music, it could be a tool for us to maintain a good mood, providing a pleasant atmosphere for study or working. For those who are disabled with diseases, music is not a medicine to cure sickness, it could only be given additional help while during proper treatment. Glad to have music, we could have a better life, ‘If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think of music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.’ (Albert Einstein, Quoted in interview by G.S. Viereck, October 26, 1929. Reprinted in ‘Glimpses of the Great'(1930).) Music affects our lives in a different aspect, and I do see music as my life either.
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