by Luisa Taliento


«Exciting music heals the sad soul, sad music heals the excited soul» said Aristotle, who had already realised the liberating power of music. And now it has been proved by research and scientific studies.

One such study was conducted by Jacob Jolij, a cognitive neuroscientist from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, who developed the Feel Good Formula, an equation to calculate which pieces of music are more likely to make us feel good and enhance our wellbeing. Although music appreciation is highly personal and depends on sociocultural factors, there are some features of songs, such as positive lyrics, the key and a tempo of 140-150 beats per minute, which give energy, confidence and subconsciously make people happier. These “pick-me-up songs” appear to be more effective than others at stimulating endorphins and specific parts of the brain. The neuroscientist analysed musical hits from the past fifty years and compiled a top ten of the most positive songs of all time. They include Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen, I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor, Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys and Dancing Queen by Abba. Dr Jacob Jolij uploaded these songs to Spotify and they are now used therapeutically, as they stimulate the neurovegetative system, produce endorphins and have a positive effect on blood circulation.


Where’s the best place to listen to music? According to sports physicians, music can actually enhance your performance. If you listen to music when you’re walking, running, cycling or working out, it can take your mind off fatigue, lower emotional tension and help you achieve flow, that state of mind where you are ‘in the zone’ and completely immersed in your activity. Clinical and educational psychologists also believe that listening to music when working or studying can make you more productive and creative, just as long as you keep it to 60-70 beats a minute, which is generally the tempo of classical music. Listening to music can also make the time we take for ourselves more enjoyable, as we soak in the bath or enjoy a hot sauna or a warm Turkish bath, first thing in the morning or in the evening after work. So it’s no surprise that music is a key element in some of the most prestigious spas and that it is chosen very carefully to create the right atmosphere for the treatment, circumstances and time. Sounds of nature, music tuned to 432 Hz and ethnic music are all popular and promote balance between the two hemispheres of our brain.

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