As I edge gingerly through my sixties, I have developed a new fondness for the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Classical music and I have always had a pleasant but distant relationship. But I now find that baroque music and Bach, in particular, have the uncanny ability to ease anxiety, settle my mind, and provide a welcome accompaniment for writing and other activities that call for mindful focus.
Dr. Arthur Harvey, a leading neuromusicologist, recommends Bach as “especially effective for helping balance our brains.” Apparently, the key to the benefits of classical music is order. It is order that causes the brain to respond in special ways. Dr. Harvey says: “What makes baroque music particularly unique, more so than any other music, is balance between dissonance and consonance and that balance is critical to the brain.”
He goes on to point out that Bach and other baroque composers use around 60 beats a minute which is the slower, calming alpha-state music, and 90-110 beats a minute, which is beta-state music. He even suggests strongly that listening to Bach and his fellow baroque composers can increase mental acuity, by stimulating new nerve growth in the brain. Though this isn’t proven, I have begun to include a healthy dose of Bach in my health regimen. It certainly can’t hurt.