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How Does Music Affect Our Brainwaves?

A visitor to the site asked me in an email, "How does music affect our brainwaves?" Here is my answer, according to what the research I have read on the subject.

First of all, it certainly depends on the type of music. Some pieces actually directly effect our brainwaves, but I'll get to that in a moment. More immediately, whether or not music affects our brainwaves often has to do with whether it relaxes us. The different types and pieces of music will be different in their effects on each of us in this respect, because what we each find relaxing can be different.

If you like jazz and it relaxes you, for example, you are likely to slip into an alpha state of consciousness to some extent while listening to it. That means your brainwaves will slow to between 8 and 14 hertz, or cycles-per-second. This is the state we first enter when meditating, or before falling asleep. It can also be induced by simply closing the eyes and taking a few deep breaths.

The effect is not direct, then, but simply comes because when we relax our brainwaves slow down. Since there is some evidence that we are more creative when in an alpha state, you might want to have relaxing music on when working on intellectual or other problems, or when writing.

Then there are the musical compositions that more directly affect our brainwaves. This discovery was the basis of brainwave entrainment products for meditation. Some baroque music in particular was found to "guide," "lead," or "entrain" our brainwaves into a slower state. Examples include Prelude From Cello Suite, Allemande (Cello Suite 3), and Be Thou Near Me, all by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Obviously, then, if we desire that music affect our brainwaves more directly, we should seek out the particular pieces that are most effective. In the book Mind Power Meditation there is a listing of other compositions known to have this effect. If you haven't already done so, you can sign up on the homepage to get a free copy.

Of course, since the effect was probably not intended by the composers, it seems likely that it would be limited to certain parts of a composition. That's why to really affect our brain waves, and especially for the purpose of meditation, we use CDs and MP3 recordings that are specifically designed to entrain those electrical patterns in our heads. My favorite such product is recommended below.

 Ready For Brainwave Entrainment?

The Meditation Program

My favorite program of meditation recordings. - Steve Gillman

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Brainwave Frequencies - The rest of them (beta, alpha, theta and delta).

The Meditation Program - What makes it a good program.