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singing together

Whoever is part of a choir will probably know this already: singing together can be a positive experience, not only from a psychological point of view, but also from a physical one. But does this feeling of well-being also have a scientific basis?

This was the question posited by Swedish researchers at the University of Gothenburg, who studied and analysed the heart rates of choir members in the city. The scientists feel they now have the  answer for sure: singing in a choir has beneficial effects on our body.

The research

The research published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, demonstrates that music has a calming effect on the heart, and that these effects increase when one sings in unison with other people. For the study, the researchers placed electrodes in a singer’s ear, and linked these to a heart rate monitor. As soon as the choir started to sing, the heartbeat of the individual singers slowed down. It is a consequence of a particular type of breathing, used when singing is controlled and slow. Singing, especially in a choir it turns out, is a kind of ’guided breathing’, one which also modifies cardiovascular function.

The musicologist Vickhoff Bjorn, who led the project, states that the heart slows down its speed during the exhalation phase. But what has most struck the researchers is that in just a short space of time the heart rates of singers synchronize with each other. During the first few bars of a song, the lines displayed on the heart rate monitors recorded many different signals , but then quickly began to record a series of uniform peaks: a sort of common rhythm that follows the rhythm of the music.

It is almost as if the singers were looking to produce a common synchronisation of their voices, on that would also be reflected within the body and ultimately in the heart.

According to Swedish researchers, the choir (now that its benefits have been scientifically proven) can even be used as part of certain rehabilitation therapies as well as a support for the reduction of certain types of pain and anxiety.

Andrea Angelini

About Post Author

Andrea Angelini

Born in Bologna, Italy, Andrea Angelini studied piano and choral music at the Conservatoires of Rimini and Ferrara, where he got a Master. He got his Doctorate in Choral Music at the Cesena Conservatoire of Music. He studied Renaissance Choral Music in England and Rome. He is the Artistic Director and Conductor of the professional group Musica Ficta Vocal Ensemble. For many years, Andrea Angelini has conducted concerts with the choir Carla Amori, in Italy and abroad. He has also conducted, as guest conductor, many important ensembles. He has been member of the Jury at many International Choir’s Competitions in Italy, Europe and Asia. He frequently leads choral workshops in Italy and abroad. (Hungary, Malaysia, Russia, China, Moldavia, Romania, Croatia). Mr. Angelini is also the artistic director of the Rimini International Choral Competition, Claudio Monteverdi Choral Competition, Queen of the Adriatic Sea Choral Festival and Competition and Liviu Borlan Choral Festival. He is the Editor of the International Choral Bulletin (ICB), the membership magazine of the IFCM (International Federation for Choral Music). He is a member for Italy of the World Choir Council. Actually he is the President of AERCO, the Emilia-Romagna Regional Association of Choirs.
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