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Can Music Really Change the World?

by Craig Anderton

 

It may sound hopelessly idealistic, but all of us at HC truly believe that music can change the world. During a time when society seems to be filled with complicated environmental, social, religious, and political problems, we believe music can provide the healing mojo that helps bring joy, and reduces the stress of everyday life.

 

But can music really change the world, or is this all a naive pipe dream? The answer is both more complex, and more simple, than you might think.

 

 

Plenty of studies show that music affects individuals. A paper in the UK-based Journal of Advanced Nursing describes how listening to music is useful for pain relief and treating depression. Music also decreases post-operative pain. Playing certain types of music can help decrease blood pressure, and reduce heart and breathing rates. Taiwanese researchers have found that listening to Mozart K 448 had an antiepileptic effect in children. And according to a paper published by the National Institutes of Health US National Library of Medicine, music can help in stroke recovery.

 

But the “money quote” from that paper addresses music in general: “Music is a highly complex and versatile stimulus for the brain…Regular musical activities have been shown to effectively enhance the structure and function of many brain areas, making music a potential tool also in neurological rehabilitation.”

 

Or translated into English: Music creates physical changes, too. According to a paper in Neuropsychologia, the corpus callosum—the nervous system highway between the two brain hemispheres—is significantly larger in musicians. Plenty of studies show music is good for your brain.

 

That’s fine, but can music change the world? In some ways, it already has: Music was the soundtrack of the 60s, and musicians like Bob Dylan and the Beatles affected society. And I can’t help but wonder if the “tribal” nature of EDM has something to do with everyone synching to the same beat. If music changes the individual for the better, then hopeful those individuals will also help change the world for the better.

 

But if music is food for the brain, do we want to feed it the junk food of data-compressed files, or quality audio that delivers a more pristine experience? I’d vote for the latter. So maybe while we think about improving the world, maybe we should think about improving music’s delivery medium as well. —Craig Anderton

 

 

______________________________________________ 

 Craig Anderton is Editorial Director of Harmony Central. He has played on, mixed, or produced over 20 major label releases (as well as mastered over a hundred tracks for various musicians), and written over a thousand articles for magazines like Guitar Player, Keyboard, Sound on Sound (UK), and Sound + Recording (Germany). He has also lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and three languages.

 

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unseen  |  February 16, 2016 at 2:42 pm
SUMMARY: The Medium Needs A Message (worthy of change)!
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unseen  |  February 15, 2016 at 4:16 am
Thanks for your article Craig. I really do believe that music (well it used to) develops a sense of space...not just harmony and meter. When I listen to music...part of its strength lays in the ability to include me in that space...somehow plant me in the membrane of the instrument and vibrate our very fluid body in sympathetic resonance; not so much by volume. The complexity is that the space is a stage for the content of expression. Now the key is...that expression can contain a positive or negative source. If that source is expressing hope...then I will become 'fed' with hope...we are what we eat as you mention. Listening to 'hope and truth' was very much the beginning of a change in my life. The very structure of music has changed so radically over the last 40 years of my listening life...what use to be long roads that took time to embed in my psyche are now 1 bar repetitions...equal to the whole culture being dumbed down. Music is so psychosomatic...we all know the most basic 120 bpm of old pop was the euphoria of the maternal heartbeat (ie 60)...100bpm is the shaman trance tempo...above 140 starts the adrenal response and so on. So the medium...hmmm...lets start with range...space needs power which doesnt happen with 3db of head room..what ever happened to Katz K-12? Worked really well I thought. Thanks for your input over the last...well long while. Have enjoyed so many of your articles since back in the late 80s. All the best
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