by Justin Crockett
We are a musical species; songs can transport us back to a vivid place and time in our minds, it makes hippies do all sorts of Final Fantasy-ish summons at Phish concerts, we even listen to slow jams while we get our booty on. And some people listen to David Bowie. Point is, it’s a pre-wired love that exists in our human shells, and the music we love can affect and transform our moods and emotions.
“This is my ‘listening to Nate Dogg’ face.”
But there are some little-known ways that music can actually enhance, or even save, our lives. Here are some surprising examples of music doing more than just being good background music for tripping balls to.
*deep, longing sigh…*
Music Can Save a Premature Baby’s Life
While it’s already been shown that the soothing sounds of parents speaking to their preemie newborn can help with its development, little has been spoken about the therapeutic benefits of music. Recent studies are showing now, that music played around a fragile little baby in the hospital, especially live music being performed, can help relax it and encourage more normal development.
“THIS IS FOR THE KIDS!”
While setting up amps and mics in the neonatal unit is generally frowned upon, a gentle guitar and lilting singing voice can benefit a premature baby more than the constant beep of machines and grab-assing of doctors and nurses. The sound and vibrations of an instrument can encourage relaxation, help a stressed-out baby with sleep, and help them adapt to life outside of the womb.
So you could be the guitar guy in the delivery room.
Music Can Enhance Wine Taste
Ok, so maybe this isn’t a life-changing point, unless you’re an alcoholic, and then you’ve got a new reason to drink. So, you’re welcome.
A study was conducted that gave people a chance to drink lots of wine, and it was discovered that when certain types of music were played that related to the personality of the wines, the flavors intensified remarkably to the listener/wine-sloshed boozebucket.
For instance, previous research had found that when accordion music was played where alcohol was sold, French wine bitch-slapped all other nations in wine sales. If a polka-type song was being performed, German booze won out. And if a gangster rap song was playing, everyone bought a box of Wheat Thins and had a seizure(still crunching the data on that one).
So when the participants of the wine study had a Cabernet, for instance(a heavy, bold wine), and listened to a mellow song, they said “eh” and pursed their purply stained lips. But when a powerful, cocksure song was played, they rated the wine accordingly, up to 60% more in the powerful, heavy taste column. White wine was rated more “zingy and refreshing” when that type of music was played, by more than 40%. But when a “mellow and soft” song was played, the ratings plummeted. When Arbor Mist was tested against a Pantera song, God himself appeared and high-fived everybody.
Businesses Using Music to Discourage Loitering
When confronted by straggling gaggles of youths on their corners and outside their doors, businesses have long suffered from few options to deter them. Short of going outside and being the old lady with the broom in the downstairs apartment, business and store owners have had their hands tied as to what to do to keep their areas free of whippersnappers, with their gold chains, and their Winston cigarettes, and their pants.
Now, with advances in noise deterrent technology, the Jay and Silent Bobs of the world are running scared, at least as fast as their pants will allow them to run. GOD, their pants.
In Seattle, for instance, the owner of a market has been using classical music to keep jerks off her property. In the past, large crowds would converge there, and the inevitable drug dealing, fights, tomfoolery, quilt-knitting contest, etc., would occur. By blaring works from Mozart and Beethoven, just a little louder than normal places would, it makes it just annoying enough that no youngins want to converge there. Similar techniques have been deployed in Canada and other countries, using not just classical music, but also opera and country. By ear-fucking street kids in the usual places like subway platforms and storefront corners, crime has taken a noticeable drop, likely due to the fact that if a corner boy hates Sondheim, his dopamine level will plummet, causing him to find another area that will more suit his tastes. Like YOUR SISTER’S ASS!
“You got me there….sonofabitch.”
Music Can Repair the Brain and Return Lost Memories
It has long been thought that traumatic brain injuries were kind of just like Commandant Lassard in “Police Academy”: near-permanent and clunky and confusing. But new information is coming to light, showing that music can have a direct impact on repairing “loose” connections in the brain after an injury.
Traumatic brain injuries can have symptoms like memory loss, or inability to make logical and quick decisions. Troops returning home, for instance, can suffer from this. But a new study, involving 31 veterans, had each participant beat time on a drum to a song playing on an iPod. By trying to match the rhythm of what they were hearing, for up to a half hour, later they were clearly able to perform better on standard decision-making tests. So it’s baby steps, but an open path toward good brain rehab.
Singing is another musical method for rehabbing a beat-up, dented brain. Since making and listening to music involves so many senses, it also accesses different areas of the brain, such as the language and audio, uh, cortex, and the spleen? regulator? Also, like I mentioned in the intro, where a song can transport you back to a specific memory? That actually, literally, happens. In a good, healthy, fix-your-shit way. That Phil Collins song that reminds you of knuckle-blasting that special gal with the too-strong-for-a-girl chin? Well, let’s say years later you fell from a crane, and then dive-bombed a car with your head. A doctor could cue up “Sussudio”, and it could make your brain process what’s called a “music-evoking autobiographical memory”, a now-proven way to help patients with brain-fuck recall memories that were lost due to the injury itself.
“No, thank you.”