The Sweet Sound of Music, and its Effect on Your Health! By Dr. Chris Demczar, DC, MS, CSCS

The Sweet Sound of Music, and its Effect on Your Health! By Dr. Chris Demczar, DC, MS, CSCS

We’ve all heard the saying, “that’s music to my ears!” Sounds can be so pleasant, and even have the opportunity to be healing for our health! Let’s dive in to how sounds; music in particular, can be healing for our bodies and our soul.

Growing up, I played the piano and was a percussionist in the school band, playing mostly mallet instruments. These included the xylophone, marimba, and vibraphone. Each looked pretty similar, but had vastly different sounds. The xylophone was sharp, piercing, and made me cringe if someone hit the bells too hard. The vibraphone and marimba were sweet, melodic, and so pleasant to listen to. So why were the sounds so different? And why did those sounds interact so differently with my body?

But what is sound, anyway? Sound is made by a vibratory force that produces a sound wave. That sound wave moves through the air, creating the sound that our brain interprets through mechanisms in our ears. The sound changes based on two factors; the wavelength and the frequency. The wavelength of the sound wave is the distance between the highpoint of one wave to the high point of the next. The frequency is the number of wavelengths that occur in one second.

We already know that sounds are healing. According to the American Musical Therapy Association, there are 75 musical therapy undergraduate and graduate programs in the United States alone! These programs offer students the opportunity to learn and find ways to influence others through the use of sounds and music. Certified Musical Therapists look to use sounds/music to help patients in a variety of ways, like mental disorders, addiction, and even pregnancy! (Piedmont Musical Therapy).

How Is It That Sounds Can Assist Healing?

Harmonics may be one explanation. The harmonics of the sound describes how certain frequencies of sound wave interact with other matter. For example, have you ever thought about the frequencies used in tuning forks? They are multiples of 64 Hz; 256 Hz, 512 Hz, and 1024 Hz. These frequencies are all multiples of 64 Hz. These correspond to the note “C” in music, and are used because they are perfect integers. Did you know that different frequencies have different purposes? The harmonic frequency of 512 Hz is best used for detecting auditory dysfunction in humans, while the 256 Hz frequency is best used to determine if a bone is fractured, since the larger wavelength will more
rigorously vibrate bone, stimulating nociceptors (pain receptors) if the bone is damaged.

Harmonics may only explain half of the equation though. Something amazing happens when a sound interacts with matter at a resonant frequency. Resonance occurs when the frequency of the sound wave is essentially the same as the natural frequency of the object the sound wave is interacting with. At this frequency, the object has a vibrational energy and produces tiny oscillations within its molecules. Have you ever tried the drinking glass experiment? Give it a try! Take a few different sized drinking glasses, and get the tops of each glass wet with water. Dip your finger into water, and then swirl your finger around on the top of the glass. Play around with the speed at which your finger moves, thus changing the frequency. At one specific speed, you should hear a sound produced from the glass. You have officially hit the resonant frequency of that specific glass. How cool!

The resonant sound of an instrument is the perfect pitch that produces the exact note that you are looking to hear. It is so enjoyable to our ears and in our minds, and this is what separates a good sound from a great sound! This is the major reason that different singers and voices are more appealing than others. The resonant sound of the song from one singer is going to be more congruent with the receptors in your individual body, making that sound more enjoyable than others.

What does this have to do with healing? The healing part comes into play when those resonant sounds are able to change the physiology of our body. There’s an order to the music we listen to, the sounds we hear. Our bodies internal clocks are hard wired to order and rhythm, and music and other sounds can provide that.

Think of the stress of being in a noisy traffic jam. Then you enter an even louder concert venue, and you are calm and relaxed as soon as the music starts. Research has shown that certain music and sounds can lower stress hormones, decrease oxygen needs, and create new neural connections in our central nervous system!

Knowing this, can you now see why we play Christian music in our office. The beat, rhythm, and sounds provide another layer of healing to add to the experience for each patient. Optimizing the communication of your nervous system through a chiropractic adjustment is enhanced in many ways during your office visit. The music playing in the background, whether conscious or subconscious to you, is just one of the things positively effecting your experience.

What are the music and sounds that bring healing to you? Let me know at [email protected], and don’t forget to make a playlist for yourself to listen to on car rides and whenever you need a little bit of extra healing in your life!