Synchronized Heartbeats

Earlier this year a fellow WordPress blogger directed me to new research from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

The study — named ‘Kroppens Partitur’ or ‘The Body’s Musical Score’ — monitored the pulses of fifteen choral singers as they sang their way through three different exercises: humming, performing a hymn, and chanting a slow mantra.

The authors of the study reported: “When you are singing, the heartbeat for the whole group is going up and down simultaneously…It gives you pretty much the same effect as yoga breathing. It helps you relax, and there are indications that it does provide a heart benefit.”

This synchronization is thought to be caused by the breathing patterns which the music inspires in the singers. When they are singing the same melody, they tend to pause to breathe in the same place, and these breathing patterns then influence their heart rates.

I love learning about this research, because it corroborates what human beings have experienced for thousands of years — singing with other human beings is a special and often uplifting experience.

It also reminds me how important it is to include “sing-along” songs as part of a performance.

Who wouldn’t want an opportunity for a room full of people’s hearts to synchronize?

“Blue Moon” by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart is a song that Bobbi Carrey and I have included in our In Perfect Harmony show in hopes that people might sing (or hum or whistle) along.

Here’s a version that we recorded with Doug Hammer on the piano.

I have long been aware of how intimate singing with another person can be — whether in unison or in harmony — but I didn’t realize that Bobbi and I might actually be synchronizing our heartbeats when we perform together.

Ahh, blessed music… and the human heart.

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10 thoughts on “Synchronized Heartbeats

    • It is uncanny that you would share this exquisite video link, Cate. According to my parents, I behaved similarly as an infant. Whenever one of them would sing “Good night, Irene” to me, I would cry. My mother recently mentioned to me that, with hind sight, she realizes that it might have been an odd (and painful for me) thing to do — but that she and my dad couldn’t resist singing that song to me, just to see if I would have the same response (which apparently I did). The baby in the video seems to be teetering on that emotional precipice of joy and grief which music continues to evoke in me — and in millions of other human beings. THANK YOU for sharing this link!

      • You are welcome. Music has such power. I cry at the craziest things sometimes (like military bands in a parade ). Keep singing. The world would be empty without it.

  1. Music is so amazing! When I did sing with others, the experience was truly uniting in spirit and body. I loved the music sample you added. Blue Moon is one of my favorite songs. You did it justice! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Love the results of the research. I sing in a choir and it is really therapy at its best. A week from Sunday we have a performance and will be performing the Requiem by Fauré and Bach Cantata no. 106.

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