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.