Is Music the New Elixir of the Mind?

It has long been known to give comfort to an exhausted spirit when all other measures fail. The body seems to react to music in a way identified recently by various studies confirming its magical powers to soothe the nervous system and nourish the mind at the same time.

Regardless of its artistic merits, if you are seeking music to boost your brain-power then Mozart is your man and might prove to many that he is a much better choice than Beethoven.

According to a study from Sapienza University in Rome, some composers are superior to others in stimulating intelligence.

People who listen to Mozart’s music showed an increase in brainwave activity linked to memory, understanding and problem-solving. However, no such increases were found after the group listened to Beethoven.

The study, which was published in Consciousness and Cognition, suggested that the rationale and highly-organised arrangement of a Mozart sonata may ‘echo the organisation of the cerebral cortex’.

‘One of the distinctive features of Mozart’s music is the frequent repetition of the melodic line; this determines the virtual lack of surprise elements that may distract the listener’s attention from rational listening, where each element of harmonic and melodic tension finds a resolution that confirms listeners’ expectation,’ they wrote.

A previous study, published in 1993, found that listening to the ‘Allegro con spirito’ from the Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major by Mozart could improve spacial reasoning skills for a short time.

I grew up listening to Mozart’s music, as my father, brought up in a German orphanage in Jerusalem, was a Mozart addict. I was later to find Mozart’s music a tonic for the mind and melodiously unsurpassable. So I’m not in the least surprised that his magic is being hailed for its hidden benefits of cognition.

Perhaps Mozart’s preference for vulgar sexual practices bred the elegance that his music celebrates. Most great composers were, so to speak, afflicted in this regard but nevertheless produced masterpieces.

Have we, by any chance, missed the point of what makes a genius?

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