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Classical Notes

Classical Notes: January 10, 2011 Archive

Eat, Listen and Be Merry

Posted at 1:02 PM on January 10, 2011 by Elena See
Filed under: Fun finds, In the media

Here's a weird question: What does the most delicious pizza (or steak or pasta or cheesecake or ice cream - insert your favorite here) you've ever eaten have in common with Samuel Barber's music?

Answer: Both pizza and Barber will make you happy. Well, of course, you say. Pizza tastes good and Barber sounds good. So, sure, yes, they'll both make me happy. What's the big deal?

The big deal is that now science has proven that music makes you happy. According to Malcolm Ritter and the Associated Press, "people like music for the same reason they like eating or having sex: It makes the brain release a chemical that gives pleasure."

That chemical is dopamine and the music that resulted in the greatest increase in dopamine production? Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, Claude Debussy's Claire de Lune and the 2nd movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony.

The study used PET scans and MRI scans to track the increase, release and flow of dopamine. More dopamine was released when study participants were listening to their self-acknowledged favorite pieces of music than when listening to other music and the study only used instrumental music - not vocal music. Who knows what might happen when the divas start to sing.

Eat on! Listen on! Be happy!

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