How Classical Music Has a Therapeutic Effect on the Human Body

A music instrument being played in ancient China.

The ancients believed that the 5-tone musical system (the palace, the merchant, the horn, the sign, and the feather) had a corresponding connection with the five internal organs (spleen, lung, liver, heart, and kidneys). (Image: via The Epoch Times)

The music that you listen to has an effect on your health. Positive sounds from soft music have healing powers that harmonize the body and mind. This is especially true of classical music.

An American woman, Edith Zook, at 83 years old suffered from an irregular heartbeat that caused her to faint suddenly. On January 15, 2006, Zook underwent cardiac surgery in Urbana, Illinois. During the surgery, a harpist played Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major using this classical music for adjuvant treatment. Zook’s doctor, Abraham Kocheril, had discovered that the music from the vibration frequency of the harp can effectively adjust the rhythm of the heartbeat. Sure enough, Zook’s heart rate dropped and became regular.

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Some patients who do not respond to all kinds of different stimulation are found to respond well to music. This is because the sensitivity of the body’s nerves toward music and pain are the same, hence, doctors use music to alleviate the pain of childbirth and dental treatments, and they also use it to eliminate the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of cancer treatment.

Studies have confirmed that music therapy can help to improve the heart rhythm of premature babies, improve their diet and sleep, as well as help patients with strokes and brain damage restore their language abilities.
Studies have confirmed that music therapy can help to improve the heart rhythm of premature babies, improve their diet and sleep, as well as help patients with strokes and brain damage restore their language abilities. (Image: via The Epoch Times)

All these are in line with the Chinese ancients’ understanding of music. The ancients realized that traditional music has the power to purify the soul, adjust the body and mind, as well as maintain health and cure sickness.

Chinese classical music was used for healing

The original Chinese character “药” (which means medicine) was actually the Chinese character “草” (meaning grass) added to the top of the Chinese character “乐” (meaning music), symbolizing that music can heal like grass, which is the medicine.

Chinese music uses the 5-tone musical system — the palace, merchant, horn, levy, and feather — which are equivalent to the do-re-me-sol-la of Western music. These correspond to the five internal organs of the human body — the spleen, lung, liver, heart, and kidneys. These, in turn, correspond to the “five emotions” — thinking, sadness, anger, joy, and fear.

The five-tone musical system can adjust the five internal organs through the five emotions. For example, the merchant tone clears the lungs; listening to the merchant tone helps to prevent colds and improves respiratory health. At the same time, the lungs control sadness, and any sorrow will injure the lungs. So listening to music composed around the merchant tone will improve one’s mood, which is very beneficial.

When talking specifically about Chinese classical music, positive effects have been observed in people who practice it or listen to it.
When talking specifically about Chinese classical music, positive effects have been observed in people who practice it or listen to it. (Image: IQRemix from Canada via Flickr)

However, not all music is good for your health. Modern music — such as heavy metal music, hip hop, and punk music — is found not to be helpful to human health and is, in fact, detrimental. Russian medical scientist Vladimir N. Anisimov surveyed 8,775 musicians in 2014 and found that rock musicians have the shortest lifespan, with men and women averaging 43.6 years and 37.6 years respectively. On the other hand, among the five occupations that have lifespans up to 90 years old, four of them were taken up by classical musicians — namely, harpists, composers, violinists, and cellists.

Research at the University of California at Berkeley also confirmed that people who engaged in or listened to heavy metal and hip-hop music have the shortest lifespans among their American counterparts.

Translated by Chua BC and edited by Helen

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