Saturday, 14 March 2020

Soothing the savage beast

...a misquote of course. What Congreve [not Shakespeare, the usual suspected source of most iambic pentameter] actually wrote in The Mourning Bride was

Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast, 
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.
<digression title="factoid du jour">
The Latin for oak, robur, gave English the word robust. (Further info). Strictly, it was no English wordsmith that came up with a word based on robur. as Latin already had the adjective robustus, but the link is still worth knowing about (and I only recently had the "Of course it means that – DOH" moment).
A recent Classic FM page reported (if report is not too strong  word in this case –  there was a disappointing dearth of hard facts about the paper in question):
New research from the British Academy of Sound Therapy (BAST) has shown there is a common dosage for music and revealed how long an individual needs to listen to it for a therapeutic effect to be experienced.
Clicking on that inviting link in the first line leads not to an authoritative source but to another equally unauthoritative  Classic FM page (which at least gives some detail):
To carry out the trial, students divided 157 adult participants into two groups. The first received ultrasound-guided injections of a benzodiazepine known as midazolam, while those in the second group were given noise-cancelling headphones delivering ‘music medicine’.

For three minutes – the length of time it takes for midazolam to reach optimum effectiveness – patients in the second group listened to a musical recording specially designed to lower their heart rate, blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol. 
To ensure accuracy of results, researchers used an approved anxiety scale with patients before and after treatment, scoring them from 1-4 on six simple statements, while doctors also rated them on a 10-point scale
And it certainly had the desired effect, with the abstract of the study describing music medicine as a ‘non-pharmacologic intervention that is virtually harm-free, relatively inexpensive and has been shown to significantly decrease preoperative anxiety’ 
There may be some way of getting out of this labyrinth of self-reference, but I don't have the time to find it. If you have, have at it. But it reminds me of a reference I made here to 
...the madrigal All Creatures Now, written during the reign of Good Queen Bess ('See where she comes, see where she comes with flow'ry garlands crownéd...'). I have sung this madrigal before, and [not] given this phrase a second thought: 'Music the time beguileth'.  It doesn't seem to belong semantically (or musically) with either what comes before or after it. So previously I have dismissed this line as just an Elizabethan filler that doesn't mean very much.

But having so recently written That's 'wile', as in 'beguile'... [HD – in that same post] I realized that Bennet (the composer) was referring to the way music has a beguiling effect on the listener's awareness of the passage of time; it wiles time away.
 (And if you'd like an H in that wiles, read that post: I've highlighted in red my reasons for going H-less; but you do whichever you prefer.)

The BAST article used this infographic, which I found quite interesting (although I think the RDA message (the Recommended Daily Amount) is rather lost. It would have been more persuasive (about the music versus drugs issue) if they had used the term RDA:
 Music as Medicine infographic, from The British Academy of Sound Therapy. 
That's all for now. I must get on my HazMat gear before this evening's TCB concert.


Update 2020. – Added PS

I wronged the Classic FM report. Because the first two links in it pointed to more fairly vapid editorial I assumed that the whole site would be like that. But there is a link to the original paper if you persist.
But I'm afraid that the more web masters' budgets are splurged on the generation of "content", the more editorialisers churn out verbiage by the yard, garnering the vain clicks of us seekers of wisdom and truth. Classic FM weren't (egregiously) guilty in this case though –  I was just a bit quick to write them off.

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