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One World, One Song? Probably Not: Looking At Music In Conflict Resolution

From Stephanie West Allen’s blog on Neuroscience and conflict resolution.


I have blogged so frequently here about the possible use of music in conflict resolution that music is one of the categories in the list over to the right. If you are interested in the question of whether or not there is any music that is universal enough to positively benefit most mediations, you will likely like the article "The Mind on Music" (Chicago Tribune).


Philosophers for millenniums have marveled at the power of music to speak to our souls, to inspire joy, melancholy, aggression or calm with visceral insight beyond the grasp of our rational minds. Thanks to advances in neuroscience, researchers are beginning to understand what it is about music that touches us so deeply, and how to harness that power to soothe, uplift, comfort and heal — to use music as medicine for emotional and physical health.

It can seem obvious which songs would bring you up and which might bring you down. And indeed, there are structural components to songs that are meant to communicate joy, such as a fast tempo in major mode, or sadness, such as a slower tempo in minor mode. But there's a difference between the emotion communicated through music and the emotion actually induced in the listener. Our memories, personal preferences andmood at the time can have a heavier influence than the intent of the musical structure in how music makes us feel.

While there are structural components that convey soothing, such as consonant harmonies and a narrow pitch range, whatever music has the most positive associations to the individual will have the most positive emotional and physiological response. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms heart rate, lowers blood pressure and relaxes muscles.

"I have found people who love punk rock and find that it helps them to sleep," Hanser said. "It's likely that they have learned it truly speaks to them and expresses a part of who they are."

Click to read the rest.


Stephanie West Allen

Stephanie West Allen, JD, practiced law in California for several years, held offices in local bar associations, and wrote chapters for California Continuing Education of the Bar. While in CA, Stephanie completed several five-day mediation training programs with the Center for Mediation in Law, as well as a two-year intensive… MORE >

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