Top 6 Surprising Benefits Of Classical Music

Listening to Music

Type “classical music to” or “classical music for” into Google and you’ll see that many people already know that classical music is great for studying, falling asleep, and listening to at work. However, recent studies conducted in several countries also reveal that it is the best music genre to listen to if you want to fight various health conditions and promote mental and physical well-being. Check out these 6 surprising benefits of listening to classical music.

It can lower your blood pressure: A study out of the University of San Diego had participants perform a challenging 3 minute arithmetic task. Afterwards, they were randomly assigned to listen to one of several styles of music (classical, pop or jazz) or silence. The group that listened to classical music had significant lower post-task blood pressure levels than not only the group who listened to nothing, but also the other music genres.

Classical music can help manage pain: Music therapy has been around since the 1800s, but recent studies show that the varied pitch, melody, and rhythm in classical music can stimulate responses that relieve pain, including emotional pain. In fact, some post-anesthesia units play classical music to improve comfort and reduce pain. The music helps the person focus on the sounds rather than the physical pain. A study out of the Journal for Advanced Nursing also showed music can relieve chronic pain.

It can lead to enhanced mental alertness and memory: A study from Northumbria University asked participants to complete a series of tasks while listening to either music or silence. The group who listened to Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” (particularly “Spring”) were able to respond to their tasks faster and more accurately than the group who completed tasks in silence.

Classical music fans are more creative and at ease with themselves: An Edinburgh University study looked at over 36,000 music fans around the world. They found that classical music fans (and heavy metal listeners) were more creative and more at ease with themselves than fans of other music genres.

It may improve sleep quality: A Dutch study concluded that classical music, particularly harp, piano, and orchestral music, can moderately improve relaxation and sleep quality in adults. A Hungarian team also showed that listening to 45 minutes of classical music before bed helped students between 19 and 28, who struggled with sleep issues, fall asleep.

It enhances communication: A study from Southern Methodist University showed that people were more comfortable disclosing personal experiences when listening to classical music in the background. They concluded that the music promoted cognitive expression and an overall relaxed state of mind.

Want to experience the benefits of classical music yourself, but are not sure where to start? Check out these very listenable pieces below:

About John Williams’ The Cowboys Film Score

Cowboys John Williams

Image courtesy of Amazon.com.

With a career that has spanned over five decades, it is not surprising that John Williams scored at least one Western. What is interesting, however, is that despite being a prolific film composer with numerous notable works in his portfolio, he has scored less than five Westerns in total! One might wonder why when you hear his robust and brassy soundtrack for the 1972 movie The Cowboys.

The Cowboys starred John Wayne as an aging Montana cattle rancher who is forced to hire youngsters, who he eventually takes under his wing, to drive his herd to South Dakota. It’s a coming-of-age story that was met with mixed reviews, although it did win the Best Theatrical Motion Picture “Bronze Wrangler” award from the Western Heritage Awards. Like many old Westerns, The Cowboys also has Colorado ties. Several of its filming locations include Castle Rock, Durango, Pagosa Springs, and the Buckskin Joe Frontier Town & Railway in Canon City.

The main theme can be heard frequently throughout the film with several variations. It is a delightfully rousing theme that instantly conjures up images of galloping horses, sweeping landscapes, and all things…well…cowboy, of course. It is a distinctly Copland-esque piece that is highly-infectious and grand – everything you’d expect from a real Western saga.

You can hear the Parker Symphony orchestra performing The Cowboys Overture at our SOLD OUT concert on May 6.

 

Classical Music For Spring

Spring in Colorado taken in Greenwood Village, CO in 2012 by Shari Mathias

The first day of spring is right around the corner, although we’ve been experiencing sunny days and warmer temperatures for a couple of weeks now. Of course, Colorado weather can always take a turn (we even have snow in the forecast), but talk of all things “spring” is here to stay for a while. That got me thinking about classical music inspired by the season. From “La primavera” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to Stravinsky’s The Rite Of Spring, there’s a long list of compositions about and appropriate for this time of year. Here are just a few for your playlist:

“Spring” from The Four Seasons (Vivaldi): The Four Seasons, as the name suggests, is actually four violin concerti. Vivaldi published them along with poems that describe what imagery the music was intended to evoke. For example, the first movement asks the audience to picture that “Spring has come and joyfully the birds greet it with happy song, and the brooks, while the streams flow along with gentle murmur as the zephyrs blow.” Interestingly, the second movement features a barking dog represented by the viola section. Hear it now on YouTube

On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring (Delius): This is a great example of a tone poem – an orchestral work intended to inspire listeners to imagine scenes or experience moods often from the content of a poem, story, novel, or painting. English composer Delius wrote this as part of Two Pieces for Small Orchestra. The other piece is titled Summer Night on the River, but often these pieces are played separately. Note the cuckoo calls throughout the first theme and again at the end. Listen now here.

“Morning Mood” from Peer Gynt (Grieg): The melody of Morning Mood is by far more well-known than its title or the work from which it came. In fact, most people think of images of Scandinavia where Grieg is from instead of the intended setting which is a Moroccan desert. The piece was written as incidental music to a Henrik Ibsen play and depicts the rising sun at dawn. Listen to it here.

Appalachian Spring (Copland): Originally written as a score for a Martha Graham ballet, today it is celebrated for its tender opening notes and its distinct Americanism thanks to the incorporation of the Shaker tune “Simple Gifts”. Copland wrote the initial piece for 13 instruments but later rescored the work for full orchestra. The word “spring” in this case refers to a water source. The Hart Crane poem from which the title came literally addresses a water spring. However, the poem is figuratively about a journey to meet springtime and the ballet storyline tells of a spring celebration of American pioneers in the 19th century. Listen now on YouTube.

Vårsång (Spring Song) (Sibelius): Another tone poem, Sibelius’ Spring Song was originally composed as an orchestral improvisation for a concert in 1894. It was described as a piece full of “fresh, characterful melodies”. A year later, he reworked the piece, shortening and restructuring it and, at that time, he appended the subtitle “The Sadness of Spring”. The piece, however, can be described as more grand than sad, with an optimism not usually seen in his works. Hear it here.

Have a favorite piece we didn’t include here? Comment on our post on Facebook.