Only someone whose heart beats faster for classical music could construe the following as a positive statement: “[O]nly 18% of patients preferred classical music to achieve relaxation compared to 82% of patients who preferred pop or traditional music…”
The quote is from a 2013 article entitled “The Role of Music to Promote Relaxation in Intensive Care Unit Patients” that appeared in the journal Hospital Chronicles written by Polyxeni Mangoulia, a member of the faculty psychiatry at Evagelismos General Hospital in Athens, Greece, and Aikaterini Ouzounidou, the director of nursing services at the same hospital.
The article defines “relaxing music” in this way: “The characteristics of potentially sedative/relaxing music are defined by the following elements: stable tempo, stability or only gradual changes in volume, rhythm, timbre, pitch and harmony, consistent texture, predictable harmonic modulation, appropriate cadences, predictable melodic lines, repetition of material, structure and form, gentle timbres and few accents.”
That classical music was NOT considered relaxing by 82% of the patients in a Greek study is great news to anyone who works in the classical music business. What we do SHOULD NOT make people feel relaxed and drowsy! It should stimulate them! It may even irritate them! Most people won’t want it foisted on them when they are in the Intensive Care Unit!
Yes, classical music is mad, bad, and dangerously powerful. If locked away, it might produce frenzied behavior on the part of those who seek to possess it illegally. Fortunately for me, I am a licensed practitioner legally qualified to lead groups of hedonistic singers in the narcotic pleasures of singing.
I’ve just conducted a small experiment on myself, in which I’ve been able to compare the pain killing and mood-enhancing effects of leading rehearsals of classical music to the effects of oxycodone, which was prescribed for me for post-operative pain. The hands down winner: classical music. (You can trust me. I’m the son of two doctors.)
“Music has at least three effects on human behavior,” the authors write, “an emotional, exciting, or stimulating effect; a discriminative or guiding function, as when a person marches, dances, or taps in time with music; and a reinforcing or pleasurable effect.”
Musician, heal thyself: let’s banish “relaxing” classical music forever. If you are making people relaxed and drowsy, you are probably not doing much in the realm of active healing.