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02 June 2020

THE ROLE OF MUSIC IN A PANDEMIC

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THE ROLE OF MUSIC IN A PANDEMIC

Music has played a major role and had a positive impact on people’s morale during conflicts and wars throughout the ages. The 2019 Corona virus, COVID-19, has been described as a war against an invisible enemy, and has invaded over 180 countries, creating an unprecedented emergency response effort, and very strict infection control and quarantine measures worldwide.

 

This pandemic will certainly have a long-term traumatic and psychological effect on a considerable number of people. Music therapy could help reduce the negative impact on society in an effective and affordable manner.

During quarantine, many music therapists are doing their best to entertain people, contribute to the healing process, and expand their expertise. Many qualitative and quantitative studies have been made on the effect of music therapy on patients who are in a lot of pain. One such study, conducted in 2007 and published in Annales Francaises D'anesthesie et de Reanimation (DOI: 10.1016/j.annfar.2006.09.002) has found that music can have a soothing effect on both ventilated and non-ventilated patients. It decreases anxiety and leads to relaxation, which reduces pain considerably. This study shows that music could have a similar effect on COVID-19 patients who are seriously ill, requiring intubation.

In addition, musicians have been active on social media platforms, singing and playing music at homes and on balconies all over the world. Famous singers joined together, each from their own home, to organize concerts to entertain people during the lockdown. The Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU) Choir, with Fr. Khalil Rahme directing and playing the pipe organ, has performed music and religious chants at the Easter mass celebrations, and shared it on social media bringing joy and comfort to the families at home.

Few useful pointers for people who wish to use music as a tool to manage stress and isolation during the quarantine: listening to music without words is preferable, as it does not limit the imagination to the verbal, helps with relaxation, and brings up good memories. Ideally, the music should be at a medium to slow tempo.  To reach the desired atmosphere, a selection of 2 pieces of music is recommended.

Examples of two kind of music heard in sequence:
1) Smetana Die Moldau
2) Beethoven Symphony n.6

1) Haendel Concerto n.1 for organ
2) Tchaikovsky Swan lake

1) Bach Prelude n.6 Book 1
2) Grieg Peer Gynt

To deal with stress and anxiety, a selection of 3 different pieces is recommended. Beginning with a fast tempo equal to the stress is to be listened to first, then followed by slower paced pieces with a reassuring and structured composition. A contemporary piece or Arabic improvisational music can be used for the first piece, where a micro division of the tone can produce tension. A baroque piece is ideal to follow where the natural temperament can stabilize the mood and a finally, a classical piece like Mozart helps reduce the remaining anxiety.

 

Examples of good pieces to listen to in sequence are as follows:
1) John Adams, Short ride in a fast machine
2) Bach Cello Suite no. 1 in G Major
3) Mozart Clarinet concerto in A Major K 622

1) Ali Paris Improvisations Bayati
2) Bach Prelude in C Major Harpsichord
3) Massenet (Thais) Meditation

Dr. Lola Beyrouthi

Assistant Professor, Department of Music, Ramez G. Chagoury Faculty of Architecture, Arts & Design

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