[FOUNTAIN]Tunes soothe savage beasts, plants, dogsIn 1993, a U.S.-based psychological research center published a study on the effect of music on the human immune system. The volunteers, college students, listened to Kenny G’s instrumental jazz and Mozart for 15 minutes, and their blood samples were taken for analysis. Seventeen out of 18 samples indicated a noticeable decrease of cortisol, the “stress hormone.” The study suggested that music could be used to treat diseases.
Plato said that music should be controlled by the state. He argued that music had an immense influence on the formation of personality and character, and therefore the state should intervene and make sure it was used positively. Aristotle shared that view of music with Plato and said, “Those who listen to vulgar music for a long time will become vulgar themselves.” That vague idea became equipped with the armor of science in the latter half of the 20th century.
In the 1950s, the recording industry grew explosively. Now, everyone has access to his choice of music anywhere, anytime. The scientists of the 1950s tried to apply this cutting-edge industry at hospitals and psychiatrists’ offices. Studies began to suggest that music was an effective tool to soothe the mind and alleviate the pain of mental patients, the elderly, the handicapped and slow learners. This is how the field called “music therapy” was born.
Animals and plants also benefit from music therapy. A recently released CD claims to stabilize the breathing and heartbeat of pet dogs. A farming technique that plays “green music,” nursery rhymes with natural sounds of birds and winds, to create a friendly environment for vegetables and fruits was introduced ten years ago.
On May 15, the Korean National Railroad began playing a collection of 76 music pieces to prevent suicides at subway stations in the capital region. The logic of using background music might sound absurd, but let’s hope the music actually works. And on suicide prevention, I would like to suggest some music for an investment analyst I met a few days ago. Watching the falling stock market, he admitted he would like to throw himself out of the window. The “Lullaby” of Franz Schubert might help him sleep, the “New World” of Antonin Dvorak might keep his blood pressure low, and the “Hungarian Rhapsody” of Franz Liszt might relieve his stress.
by Lee Kyu-youn
The writer is a deputy city news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.