Most effective is slow classical, including Beethoven’s 9th symphony Adagio, Franz Schubert’s Ave Maria and Va Pensiero by Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi.
Music has always been believed to have the power to calm down even the most savage monsters. It seems that music may have more than just soothing as it can also be helpful in lowering blood pressure.
Music Can Control Blood Pressure
A research found that listening to music with a repetitive rhythm of 10 seconds reduced heart rate and thus lowered blood pressure. This 10-second composition was also prevalent in music, especially in pieces by the composer Verdi and possibly mimicked the body’s own natural rhythm of the rise and fall of blood pressure which take roughly about ten seconds.
The researchers examined studies over 20 years, which documented the result of different musical genres on blood pressure and heart rate. They tested the theories on two groups: one of students and the other of musicians using six different music types in random order. The students were musically untrained.
The researchers measured the participants’ cardiovascular responses such as blood pressure and pulse rate while they were listening to the music through headphones. It was seen that those with musical training had stronger responses but all participants regardless of personal taste registered similar cardiovascular responses.
The music found to be most effective was slow classical, including Beethoven’s 9th symphony Adagio, Franz Schubert’s Ave Maria and Va Pensiero by Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi. In the case of Ave Maria, listening to the Latin version was more beneficial as compared to the translations. The pace of the music was altered in the translated versions hence changing the interval of 10 seconds and is not as soothing as the original.
An interesting observation made during the study was that listening to Indian classical Ragas could also induce the same effects as slow classical music.
In contrast, Pop, rock and other classical music did not have the same impact. In fact in the case of rock music, heart rate was found to increase leading to a rise in blood pressure. A Red Hot Chili Pepper song included in the study raised both heart rate and blood pressure.
It was found that the listeners’ personal musical preference did not make any difference, as soothing music was more likely to have a calming effect even if the listeners were fans of faster beats. Accordingly music therapy used to calm individuals doesn’t require being tailor-made for an individual.
According to Oxford University cardiologist, Professor Peter Sleight, who led the study, music therapy has already been employed commercially as a therapeutic tool but this has not yet been subjected to controlled studies looking into its effectiveness.
“Our research has provided understanding as to how music, particularly certain rhythms can affect you heart and blood vessels. Further studies are needed to reduce the skepticism of the therapeutic role of music,” he added.
Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, explained that as stress played a role in cardiovascular disease, the calming effect produced by music could have potential as therapy.
Pearson also said, “However as Prof. Sleight pointed out, more robust evidence is needed before we can see cardiologists prescribing 30 minutes of Vivaldi a day.”
The findings were presented before the British Cardiovascular Society’s Annual Conference held from 8th to 10th June, 2015, in Manchester. Following the presentation there was a performance by the Welsh Society Choir.