Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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The power of music

AFP – Concert-goers often describe their experiences as moments of collective emulation. And there’s every reason to believe that this is more than just an impression.

Researchers based in Switzerland have discovered that the bodies of music lovers attending classical concerts synchronise during the performance.

Scientists at the University of Bern came to this surprising conclusion by analysing the reactions of 132 people attending public concerts in Berlin, featuring orchestral performances of symphonies by Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms and Brett Dean.

To do this, they divided them into three distinct groups and had them wear body sensors.

This experimental device revealed that the bodies of the study participants experienced the same changes during the concert. Their heart rates and breathing speeds synchronised.

The academics observed the same phenomenon with regard to their skin conductance response, which is the electrical activity recorded on the surface of the skin and reflecting the activity of the sweat glands.


Given that the experiment took place when COVID-19-related restrictions were still in force in Germany, the study authors deduced that these changes were not due to the physical proximity of the volunteers, but rather to classical music itself.

“The synchronies are therefore presumably ‘induction synchronies’ because they are unlikely to rest on interactions between the participants,” the scientists explain in their paper, published in the journal, Scientific Reports. Personality questionnaires completed by the volunteers prior to the concerts showed that the effects of this synchronisation were more pronounced in individuals who described themselves more agreeable and open.

“Thus, trusting, sociable, imaginative persons who were interested in art were more prone to become synchronised. Other personality styles reduced being in-sync (neuroticism and extraversion), which means that more nervous, insecure persons, and also outgoing extraverted people became less synchronised by the music,” the researchers state.

This study reflects the powerful effect that music can have on people of all ages.