Music Affects Pain Perception

From a study by Kenntner-Mabiala R, Gorges S, Alpers GW, Lehmann AC, and Pauli P:

The present study investigated affective and physiological responses to changes of tempo and mode in classical music and their effects on heat pain perception. Thirty-eight healthy non-musicians (17 female) listened to sequences of 24 music stimuli which were variations of 4 pieces of classical music. Tempo (46, 60, and 95 beats/min) and mode (major and minor) were manipulated digitally, all other musical elements were held constant. Participants rated valence, arousal, happiness and sadness of the musical stimuli as well as the intensity and the unpleasantness of heat pain stimuli which were applied during music listening. Heart rate, respiratory rate and end-tidal PCO(2) were recorded. Pain ratings were highest for the fastest tempo. Also, participants’ arousal ratings, their respiratory rate and heart rate were accelerated by the fastest tempo [emphasis added]. The modulation of pain perception by the tempo of music seems to be mediated by the listener’s arousal.

In the quest to find out whether specific pieces of music might one day be prescribed to treat specific conditions, here we see that slow classical music reduces the perception of pain; fast classical music increases feeling pain. Therefore, if you suffer from pain, whether acute or chronic, slow classical music and certain kinds of art may help you bear the pain more easily. This is certainly something to think about when you are loading up your mp3 player or choosing a radio station!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Material is copyrighted and may not be rewritten, copied, or republished in any form without explicit written permission. Use the contact page to request permission.

Ready to take the next step? Find out more about private classical piano lessons, private classical singing lessons, private speaking voice lessons, or master classes, by scheduling an interview at no charge and no obligation. I respect your privacy and your email address will not be sold, rented, transferred, added to a list, etc. It will be used only to contact you for schedule changes.