While participants listened to five random selections of Beethoven, Bach, Puccini and other classical artists as well as a two-minute segment of silence, monitors recorded physiological signals. The researchers found that selections with crescendos, especially those with a series of them (think: Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody), led to proportional constriction of blood vessels and increases in blood pressure, heart rate and respiration. These measures decreased during decrescendos and silent periods. The team also found that “rich” music phrases around 10 seconds long, like those rhythms from famous arias by Verdi, caused heart rate and other parts of the cardiovascular system to synchronize with the music. Both groups experienced this entertainment, although the musicians showed a stronger response.

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