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2008年11月10日 (月)


(Mainichi Japan) November 8, 2008

To musicians: Make some music soothing to all ears

香山リカのココロの万華鏡:万人癒やす音楽作って /東京

Recently the American Heart Association released the results of a study to find the best song to be played when attempting cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on a heart attack victim. It turns out that "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees is the best accompaniment to chest compressions.


Even if the title of the song doesn't ring a bell, once you hear the intro to this famous and catchy tune from the 1970s, you will remember it, saying, "Oh yes, THAT song." It is heard in commercials and other media, and when I played the song to my college students, 70 percent said that they recognized it.


But why the Bee Gees? No, it isn't that there is something in their singing voices that has the power to revive. The real reason is that the ideal pace for administering chest compressions is 100 compressions per minute, so if you administered compressions in synch with this song, you would administer 103 per minute. The song's rhythm is thus almost ideal for CPR. I could not restrain myself from laughing at the interesting studies that the AHA conducts.


If a study were to be conducted to find a song that could be played as the perfect background music for a psychiatrist's office, which song would be chosen? Since there is no ideal rhythm for performing psychiatric examinations as there is with chest compressions, the choice won't be an objective one. But doctors could ask each of their patients which song allowed them to speak with the most ease.


It would seem that even without performing a study, the most common view would be that "soothing music would be good." But that is not necessarily the case. At the clinic where I work, after trial and error with music from a music box, classical music, and bossa nova, a "no music" policy was implemented. The clinic discovered that no one song puts everyone at ease, and some tunes can trigger memories from the past, and thus leave patients in an unexpectedly unsettled state.


What about playing background music that is requested by the patient? There are indeed some hospitals where patients make requests for specific songs to be played in the operating room. But it would be problematic if a patient suffering from depression and thus down in the dumps were to request a depressing tune. And playing a tense song could raise the level of stress.


For the time being, then, going with a "no music policy" seemed to be the safest bet, though this is somewhat lamentable for a music lover like me. Personally, I think that Japanese folk music (minyo) is surprisingly appropriate, but when I asked a patient I had been seeing for a long time about this music when it was playing, I was told that it makes "this place seem like a pub for folk art." Is there a genius music composer out there somewhere capable of composing music that allows everyone to relax? (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)


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