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The Psychology of Music

Vaishnavi Chella

Contents Introduction Dimensions of music psychology

Musical expression Vocal Musical Instruments Dance and music

Music as therapy

Music Psychology and human behavior Music and mood swings Music as a group identity

Music and learning Conclusion Bibliography

Albert Einstein is recognized as one of the smartest men that the world has ever seen. However things werent always smooth for the genius. As a boy Einstein performed very badly in school, as a result he was expelled. On being labeled too stupid to learn Einstein almost gave up all hope. It was then that his parents bought him a violin. Albert learnt and eventually mastered the violin. Music was not only a relaxation to Einstein, it also helped him in his work. His second wife, Elsa, gives a rare glimpse of their home life in Berlin Music helps him when he is thinking about his theories. He goes to his study, comes back, strikes a few chords on the piano, jots something down, returns to his study. As he once said, I know that the most joy in my life has come to me from my violin. King George I of England, had problems with memory loss and stress management. He read from the Bible the story of King Saul and recognized that Saul had experienced the same type of problems that he was experiencing. George recognized that Saul overcame his problems by using special music and adopted the same in his life. As is evident from Einsteins life and that of several others, music has profound and far reaching psychological impacts on people. I know that it has impacted mine in a huge way. It can improve my concentration, uplift my mood and help me unwind or simply keep me company. Hence I couldnt think of a better branch of psychology to research than that which dealt with music. The more information I gathered, the more I realized how vast the field was and how one assignment may not suffice to present a study on the entire subject. However, I have tried my best to put together the broad contours of the branch of psychology called The psychology of music.

Dimensions of Music Psychology

Music psychology is a broad field, combining elements of traditional music science with applied psychology studies, cultural anthropology, and the study of cognition, among other disciplines. The field of Music Psychology has grown dramatically in the past 20 years, to emerge from being just a minor topic to one of mainstream interest within the brain sciences. Some of the specific areas of music psychology include: - music perception - responses to music - music and the brain - musical development - learning musical skills - musical performance - composition and improvisation - the role of music in our everyday lives - music therapy and conceptual framework Given that the entire subject is extremely vast, it may be useful to study music psychology under the following heads: Musical expression Music as therapy Music psychology and human behavior Music and learning

Musical Expression
According to Howard Gardner Children with strong musical intelligence have a high sensitivity to sounds, tones and music. Their sharp hearing enables them to follow a story or a lecture without the need of visual aids. Rhyming comes easily to them, as does singing, playing an instrument, and composing music. These children tend to sing or hum while busy doing other activities. Music psychology deals with the study of the psychology behind learning a song, an instrument and the relation between music and dance. Vocal training Music, unlike science is not characterized by the law Practice makes perfect A student of music may put in hours of practice, hard work and dedication. This might enable him/her to acquire technical soundness but this does not guarantee perfection. For perfection depends upon the level of musical intelligence that one might possess. And this is where the relationship between psychology and music becomes evident. Playing an instrumentPlaying an instrument is a great way to learn about problem solving, abstract reasoning, visualization, and spatial relationships. Scientists have proven that musicians actually have significant growth in the primary motor cortex, the cerebellum and corpus callosum. Pre-schoolers given keyboard instruction showed an almost 50% increase in their spatial temporal reasoning skills. Kids that take music lessons find it easier to learn fractions because they understand time signatures. Dance and musicDance without music would be impossible to imagine. Music therefore becomes an integral part of a dancers` life. This is true for any kind of dance form. In certain cultures it is the music that defines the dance movement. Examples include jazz, hip hop etc.

Music therapy

Every thought in my mind is related to music. I also enjoy delivering great music.The ragam kanakangi makes all parts of my body feel revitalised. Ragam Karagara priya helps reduce stomach pain. When I am alone at home, aarabhi and atana make me feel brave and strong. Ragam sankarabaranam makes me feel energized. Saaranga and sahana are few other ragams that help elevate my mood. - S.J. Janani, Singer and composer Elizabeth Mathai, a music therapist who has been at the Spastics Society of Tamil Nadu for 15 years, says therapists use music as a tool to bring out what he or she wants from the person. "Many children have difficulty walking or moving. I use music, especially with rhythm and beats, to make them respond. I have seen wonders happening in my class," says Elizabeth, who manages a class of 15 children with cerebral palsy. In the west, music therapy is used for occupational and motor speech disorders, adult rehabilitation, while walking on the treadmill, in the treatment of diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimers disease, in cancer patients and other related illnesses. Another area worthy of mention is the Indian study on raga therapy. As Janani mentions there are various ragams that have a positive impact on human health and well being. For instance the soothing touch inherent in the raga kalyani is acknowledged for its role in bringing down ones (high) blood pressure. The other ragas identified for similar effects are : ahirbhairav, anandabhairavi, bhairavi, bhupali, darbari, durga, kalavati, puriya, todi, etc

Music Psychology and human behavior

Music is something that's always been very close to my heart. True music has its own magic. It goes deep into the mind and touches the heart. I'm a classical singer. Singing gives me great joy because, when I sing from my heart, I get transported into a different world. It gives me immense joy! The joy courses right through me, and keeps me bright all through the day. Not just joy, music listening to good music helps me feel better. Listening to Kambodhi and Sankarabharanam cheers me up! Whenever I'm angry, listening to Yanni on the piano calms me down. The effect is almost instantaneous! A burst of emotion, soulful music from the piano, peace of mind again! These are moments when music's true beauty comes out in sheer brilliance! Sleepless nights are no longer a problem for me while listening to the soothing tunes of Neelambari and Kalyani! Music is an integral part of my life, of me. Music cheers me up, gives me joy, calms me down and gives me peace. It is something beautiful and truly, out of the world! We cannot possess music, but true music can definitely possess us! Vidhya Barathi II nd year B.A. student Music and mood swingsMusic as a science decreases the basal metabolic rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, anxiety and tension. It can act as an anti-depressant by increasing the secretion of endorphins from the nerve cells. Toning or making elongated vowel sounds for a period of five minutes a day may put one in a state of relaxation. Toning with OM for a minimum of two weeks regularly with the background of a tambura improves memory and well being.

Music can also have an equally negative impact on human behavior. Heavy metal music, lyrics of hate and despair are destructive to the brain cells.

Music as a group identityMusic has the ability to bring people together. Good examples for this phenomenon are the satsang groups where people gather and sing bhajans that help elevate their mood, members of various bands, the rasikas as they are referred to who attend carnatic music concerts during the music season in Chennai, members of a church choir etc. Hence music helps create a sense of belonging and acts as an anchor in the life of many.

Music and Learning

Music stabilizes mental, physical and emotional rhythms to attain a state of deep concentration and focus in which large amounts of content information can be processed and learned. Songs, chants, poems, and raps will improve memory of content facts and details through rhyme, rhythm, and melody. Music helps improve creativity. When a certain brainwave state is experienced and practiced over a period of time the brain will learn the state change and it will become easier to self produce the desired brainwave state at will. Music also improves self esteem, improves concentration and gives one better intellectual acumen.

This project has given the term Music a whole new dimension in my perception. It may be gathered from this study that music has a cathartic effect by acting as a mood elevator, it helps improve learning by regenerating brain cells, it can give courage and strength, it can also help cure numerous diseases. There is, it seems nothing that music cannot do. The study of Music psychology is in its infancy and there are a lot of areas which remain undiscovered under this branch of Psychology. However, if well researched and widely applied it can have very positive and far reaching consequences. This branch of psychology makes for interesting reading and would be even more interesting when applied. Hence it would be great if it could be in some way integrated into our syllabus.

Bibliography Books and newspapers

David C. Taylor, The Psychology of Singing, Aug 2008, Bibliolife M. H. Bornstein (Ed.) Psychology and its Allied Disciplines. Hillsdale: Erlbaum, 1984, 155-194. Dr.Suvarna Nalapat, Raga Chikitsa (Music therapy), Reaworthy publications,2008 Physics world, January 2005 The Times of India, Chennai High: When you heal, you begin with do-remi, August 25, 2010

http://www.behaviormusic.com/ http://www.nada.in/