The dictionary defines music as “the arrangement of sounds made by the instruments or voices in a way that is pleasant or exciting”. But in fact music is a much more complicated notion. Music isn’t a combination of pleasant sounds only. It is the art that reflects life. Moreover, it reflects ideas and emotions using no words. People all over the world are equally moved by the beauty of Tchaikovsky’s music, whereas “Seventh Symphony” by Shostakovitch is understandable to all those who know about the unprecedented heroism of Russian people during the Great Patriotic War.
Certainly the appreciation and understanding of real music comes in time and very much depends on the person’s education and intelligence. It’s especially true with such musical genres as symphony, concerto, chamber music, opera and ballet. All these enchanting melodies need patience, concentration and peace of mind.
However, young people nowadays gravitate towards new rhythms. It is probably the result of changing times and influence of mass media. Pretty much like the immortal creations of Mozart and Handel pop music unites the teenagers all over the world. Moreover, it makes them feel a part of global family.
I must say that the society has become much more tolerant to hard rock, heavy metal and rap music.
Nowadays it’s almost impossible to escape from music, even if we want to. It thunders out of every high street shop, hisses horribly through other people’s stereos on public transport, lulls you in hotel lobbies restaurants, and blasts out of wound-down car and van windows.
But, although we all can now have music wherever we go, very few of us have any real idea of the effect music has on the human system. For many years it has been assumed that musical tastes are subjective – that one person will like jazz while another prefers classical.
But recent research in America and Australia has shown
that appreciation of music is not a matter of individual taste. Certain types of music will have a particular effect on us, regardless of whether we ‘like’ them or not. For instance, some music will help us feel relaxed and peaceful, whereas other types may be stimulating to the brain, encouraging curiosity and alertness. Some music promotes loving feelings; other sounds whip up hate, jealousy, and violence.
As a result, music in being used in hospitals, and doctors have found that twenty minutes of soothing music is often far more effective than tranquilizers or sleeping pills. For example, after a recent operation Fiona Richmond, 15, was allowed to listen in baroque music because it was good for her.
According to researcher Susan Burghardt, all music can be divided into three types, and each one has profound effects on the body and mind. The first is low-energetic music, the sort that makes you feel bad. Most rock music falls into this category. In fact it has been discovered that rock music makes people feel hate instead of love. The work of some classical composers, such as Debussy and Schonberg, has also been found to be harmful.
The next category is high-energy music. This makes you feel better and it can help to normalize heart rate. J. S. Bach is exceptionally high energy.
The third category is prayerful music. This is the most healing of all. Much of the classical music written before 1600 falls into this category.
It seems that most Jazz and Country and Western is simply neutral, having neither a healing nor harming effect.
Scientific work on the healing power of music started with plant research in the 1970s.