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Q: Psychological effects of musical beats. ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   6 Comments )
Subject: Psychological effects of musical beats.
Category: Science
Asked by: nalexsmith-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 01 Nov 2002 07:28 PST
Expires: 01 Dec 2002 07:28 PST
Question ID: 95370
Journalist looking for effects of music (especially percussion) on
human brain. More specifically, how do different musical beats and
tempos affect human psychology (learning,mood, etc.) and/or relate to
biorhythms, such as heartbeat or breathing. Even more specifically, my
main interest is repetitive, "nonsoothing" pop music beats as
biological stimuli. Links, articles, research, books, other sources
very welcome.

Request for Question Clarification by politicalguru-ga on 01 Nov 2002 07:30 PST
Dear Nalexsmith, 
When you use the term "repetitive, "nonsoothing" pop music beats", do
you refer to Techno (etc.) music?

Clarification of Question by nalexsmith-ga on 01 Nov 2002 09:49 PST
Hi Polticalguru, Yes, ultimately my specific target is techno,
synthopop tracks, especially in marketing psychology. (Maybe I should
have added that. e.g. I once heard of a study of heavy beats
increasing food consumption in restaurants--would love to find that
study, too! Is that a separate question?) But I am also interested in
general effects of music tempos on biology/psychology. What I meant to
EXCLUDE, for the most part, is the large literature on soothing
ambient music, aural therapy, Mozart increasing child IQ, etc. Hope
that helps. Happy hunting, thanks! nalexsmith

Request for Question Clarification by voila-ga on 01 Nov 2002 11:57 PST
Hi nalexsmith,

From this article it looks like you're referring to the Newcastle
research. {note, beware the

Also, from this website

"Retallack also experimented with various types of rock music
to see what effects they would have on plant growth. Plants
"listening" to selections from Led Zeppelin, Vanilla Fudge,
and Jimi Hendrix became stunted or gangly, with long stems
and sparse leave growth, some bending away from the sound
source; after 16 days, most of these plants died."

Are these articles more of what you're after?  I'd love to work on
this fascinating question but I'm a weekends-only researcher.  And
since I don't know if you're on deadline, out of courtesy, I won't
lock your question although my fingers are itching to.


Clarification of Question by nalexsmith-ga on 01 Nov 2002 12:50 PST
Thanks Voila, Not sure how things get fairly prioritized here or work
at your end, but no I'm not on deadline. Yes, that research is
helpful. But see my previous clarification for greater specificity.
Actually, how the those loud, throbbing techno synthobeats are used in
retail marketing would be most pertinent--but I'm not sure if I'm now
"refining" my question into almost a second query. I'm new to this and
want to stick by the rules. Anyway, thanks so far. nalexsmith

Clarification of Question by nalexsmith-ga on 01 Nov 2002 12:55 PST
Voila, Actually, yes now I see what you mean--there is retailing in
the Newcastle research refered to there. Extra thanks, nalexsmith

Request for Question Clarification by voila-ga on 01 Nov 2002 13:19 PST
We're a fairly loose bunch around here.  If a fellow researcher sees
that one of us has an investigatory jones and has done some serious
work on a question, other researchers will move along.  Technically
it's not allowed but researchers have come to respect one another's
work and do this as a courtesy.

Rest assured, what you've give us so far is clarification on your
original question. You haven't strayed into the "second question zone"
by a longshot.  The more refinement we can get on a question, the
better our results, so thank you!

And it would help if I had given you the proper link on the Newcastle
research {doh!}.  try this one:

gotta go.  back later...

Clarification of Question by nalexsmith-ga on 01 Nov 2002 15:30 PST
Voila, Thanks, I had managed to find that link, though actually now
that I look closely the retailing studies (which are perfect) were not
the Newcastle study, but only uncited studies mentioned in passing, so
if anyone has ideas on tracking that... Anyway, thanks for
clarification on how things work. I fully intend to use this
marvelously swarming brain trust often. Regards, nalexsmith
Subject: Re: Psychological effects of musical beats.
Answered By: voila-ga on 02 Nov 2002 16:59 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Thanks for your patient waiting, nalexsmith.  Your question
incorporated two of my favorite topics of interest -- music and
psychology -- so I was obviously anxious to dive into investigation
mode.  Please forgive me if I've brought you *too* much information. 
Researching something you enjoy elicits sort of an "immersion effect,"
so please disregard anything not useful to your project as I tend to

Usually the GA researchers are inclined to investigate if a person has
asked any previous questions with our service.  I see that you did and
it was also related to techno music and answered in typical bobbie7-ga
5-star fashion.

Next, I tried various search terms on Google and found only pedestrian
cheese on my hunt.  We've become fairly well-branded Google cowpokes
in using their search engine on the automatic {and they don't even
play music for us!}.  But while Google searching is about 95.7%
effective, one knows when to switch search strategies.  For your
particular question, I had much better luck with Metacrawler. I also
checked the scientific journals at

Since most of the articles you're looking for are included in
professional journals to which GA researchers do not have access, I
met with mixed success on your question specifications.  I have given
you reference citations further ahead.  If you're interested in any of
these articles, you may order through or one of these
other services our lovely tehuti-ga provided to a customer in a
previous thread.

Below I've included a mix of academic reseach articles, anecdotal
evidence, relevant books, articles, and essays, along with background
on techno music, effects of music on consumers, and the psychological
impact of music on the individual.  Also included are several experts
in the field with whom you might want to dialog with on your project. 
I hope this information assists you in your writing.


Brief History of Techno: 

History of Electronic Music 

Futuresound: Techno Music and Mediation

Author: Morgan Lang
Project Sponsor: Aaron Fox

"To some, it is the "heavy metal of dance music," this music
which has occasionally been disparaged as sounding like
"car alarms set to disco," this typically beat-heavy,
bass-thumping dance music which has, in fact, derived some
of its sound symbology from disco, as well as from funk,
rap, and numerous lesser-known genres."

"The music appears fresh and compelling because of its frequent
use of the newest and most powerful recording and
sound-processing technology, and because of its role in
the development of what is commonly termed "rave culture," (with
its concomitant argot, fashions, and utopian-futurist
philosophies, its self-conscious marketing devices which
simultaneously appeal to, contradict, and exploit music
consumers' desire for the new and the rare the "underground"
stuff), and it can therefore be stated that Techno is perhaps
the most compelling and cutting-edge of contemporary popular
music genres."
"Big Tings Ah Gwan": Junglist Music Takes Centre Stage
An Introduction to Jungle Music And An Enquiry Into Its Impact On The
London Jazz Scene
Author:  Andrew Missingham

"Techno music is characterised by heavy "4 on the floor" bass drum
patterns surrounded by short drum ostinati (the infamous "repetitive
beats"), and highly synthesised backing tracks. The most predominant
tempi for Techno are around 135 to 150 beats per minute."
Goldie interviewed by Julie Taraska, "Invisible Jukebox: Goldie" The
Wire Magazine pp. 40-41(Feb 1996)

Music and Altered States of Consciousness 
Author:  Donald Gerard


"Atmospherics:  The Effects of Music in a Retail Setting
on Real & Perceived Shopping Times"
Author:  Richard Yalch, Ph.D., Professor of Marketing 
{note:  please see extensive bibliography of articles}

"The Missing Piece in the Puzzle How Retail Atmospherics Can Improve
Merchandise and Store Promotions"
Authors:  Various, University of Ottawa

"An Exploratory Investigation of the Irritants of Web Site
Author:  Craig Kelley

"The August 2000 issue of the Journal of Business Research was devoted
to research on retail store atmospherics. This study investigates
potential irritants of web site atmospherics. The results indicate
differences exist in the amount of irritation caused by various
atmospheric factors based on gender, age and frequency of web

***Note:  I would definitely take a look at this issue!


"Using Store Music for Retail Zoning: A Field Experiment"
Author:  Richard F. Yalch, University of Washington 
Author:  Eric Spangenberg, Washington State

"In a Buying Mood? Maybe It's the Muzak"
Elevator music opens the wallet. Here's why resistance is futile.
Author:  Colleen Bazdarich, March 2002 Issue, Business 2.0,1640,37753,FF.html


"Survival of the Hippest"
Author: Warren St John

"To the uninitiated, walking into the Diesel jeans store on New York's
Union Square West feels a lot like stumbling into a rave. Techno music
pounds at a mind-rattling level. A television plays a videotape of a
Japanese boxing match, inexplicably. There are no helpful signs
pointing to men's or women's departments, and no obvious staff members
in sight.

"While other large clothing retailers like Gap have simplified the
layout of their stores in an effort to put customers at ease, Diesel's
approach is based on the unconventional premise that the best customer
is a disoriented one." 


"Psychology and the Consumer and Its Development" {textbook}
Author:  Robert Webb

"Why We Buy:  The Science of Shopping"
Author:  Paco Underhill
Reviewed by:  Jeff Lash


"Consumer Behavior: Buying, Having, and Being" 
Michael R. R. Solomon

"Marketing Research: An Aid to Decision Making" 
Alan T. Shao

"Planet Drum:  A Celebration of Percussion and Rhythm"
Author:  Mickey Hart with Fredric Lieberman



Context Research


"The Power of Music and Its Influence on International Retail Brands
and Shopper Behavior:  A Multi Case Study Approach"
Author:  Michael Monash


"The Effects of Background Music on the Level of Conversation in an
Eating Establishment"
Author:  Stephenie C. Doss 


"Reading Sounds:  An Essay on Sounds, Music, Knowledge, Rock &
Author:  Philip Tagg 

"The Effects of Music on Temporary Disposition" 
Author:  Fred D. Johnson 


"Does Music Cause Murder?"
Author:   Tamara Koehler, Scripps Howard News Service

"A 1982 study of the effectiveness of music in a national chain of
supermarkets showed the use of slow music over fast music increased
sales from $12,112.35 per store to $16,740.23 -- a gain of 39.2
percent. Shoppers stayed in the store longer and purchased more."


This particular website had the most complete references on music and
how it affects the individual.

The Power of Music: 

Synpsis of Books and Articles on the Power of Music:  ***excellent


Dr. Norman M. Weinberger 
(714) 856-5512 
Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory University of
California, Irvine Irvine, CA 92697-3800 


Richard Yalch, Ph.D.
Professor of Marketing
University of Washington
Email -- {home page.  nice doggies!}


James J. Kellaris, Ph.D.


Profs. Lou W. Turley/Ronald E. Milliman, Western Kentucky University

"Atmospheric Effects on Shopping Behavior: A Review of the
Experimental Evidence" Journal of Business Research, 49, 193-211


Personally, I'd like to talk to these guys just for some interesting
Uetake, K., Hurnik, J.F. & Johnson, L. (1997)
"Effect of music on voluntary approach of dairy cows to an automatic
milking system, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 53 (3), 175-182.


Journal of Consumer Research
Advances in Consumer Research
Journal of Consumer Psychology
Perception and Psychophysics
Journal of Marketing
Journal of Retailing

While I didn't find any studies on techno music per se, certain
correlations could be made from the above consumer-related literature
as they pertain to music at specific beats per minute.  It's not that
much of a leap and I hope I've brought you a step closer to
formulating your own conclusion.

Thanks for the opportunity to work on this project with you.  If any
of the above linkage is wonky, please let me know.  Also, if you have
any followup questions, I'd be happy to address those for you as well.


Clarification of Answer by voila-ga on 03 Nov 2002 21:13 PST
Research is my hobby so it was a totally enjoyable way to spend a
Saturday afternoon.  Usually I only take questions that interest me --
with anything else it just feels like 'work.'  Hopefully, you're
writing a book on this subject since there isn't that much out there
on this *specific* music influence.  If you can stand a couple more
references, I neglected to give you these last two:

The Effects of Different Types of Music on Mood, Tension, and Mental

Fractal Music

Thanks very much for the bonus and please come back and see us with
your interesting questions.


p.s.  I tend to be one of those 'disoriented' customers, wandering
around like a zombie on crack, so I stay out of stores entirely. ;-)
nalexsmith-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
Excellent work, with more personal enthusiasm than I'd ever have
expected. As to my "patient waiting"... seemed snappy to me. I'd
probably have spent weeks looking for all this material. Glad to find
scirus, too. Thanks so much. Best regards--nalexsmith

Subject: Re: Psychological effects of musical beats.
From: crimson_harlequin-ga on 01 Nov 2002 09:15 PST
Consider looking at the works of Dr. Jeffrey Thompson.  You can find
him on and

Historically, Christiaan Huygens, a 17th-century Dutch scientist
observed that the pendulums of clocks that were mounted side-by-side
would, over time, acquire identical rhythms.

Similarly, Dr. Thompson believes that the human brain is receptive to
similar patterns of "entrainment" and "frequency following responses."
Here’s how it works: Every state of mind has a unique pattern of
brainwaves—composed of alpha, beta, delta and theta waves—which can be
measured and mapped. Dr. Thompson blends subtle pulses of sound into
musical soundtracks, to stimulate the listeners brain to produce waves
with a pattern that matches the state you want to experience.

In other words, there are brain frequencies that correspond to
different states; fully awake, meditative, deep sleep (alpha, theta,
delta). Because what you hear gets pumped into your brain, listening
to music (or any repetitive noise) which duplicates one of those
frequencies should encourage the listener's mind to enter the state of
the listened frequency.

You might want to play alpha music to help your sleepy children wake
up, or alternatively when the kids are restless when they are supposed
to be studying, play theta music.

Dr. Thompson's work takes sounds from nature (rain, birds, crickets,
surf) and his own modest electronic music (call him a poor man's
Vangelis), and fortifies them with inaudible pulses and frequencies.
If successful, the listener's brain will become attuned to the
subsonic vibe, and generate waveforms that are conducive to creativity
(Theta), "emotional openness" (the Alpha-Theta), relaxation (Alpha),
and sleep (Delta).

There is some similarity here to the rhythmic drum beat that induces a
trance-like state where people walk over hot coals.
Subject: Re: Psychological effects of musical beats.
From: voila-ga on 01 Nov 2002 09:41 PST
Subject: Re: Psychological effects of musical beats.
From: askrobin-ga on 02 Nov 2002 14:47 PST
You should contact Prof. Alexander "Lex" Rozin, an assistant professor
at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. His area of expertise is
the psychological effects of music. His campus phone is (610)
Subject: Re: Psychological effects of musical beats.
From: ellis-ga on 04 Nov 2002 03:03 PST
Not seeing any comments coming from someone describing the techno
phenomenon from the inside, I've decided to add my own.

I've been an electronic music enthusiast since the early nineties, and
started attending Southern California desert parties since 1997.  At
one party I had the opportunity to dance for 24 hours straight to a
trance DJ named Goa Gil (, who somehow through
the power of his music caused everyone to become "entrained" -
definitely psychologically altered.  Some claimed to experience
psychic phenomena.  A couple of my friends got engaged to be married
at what seemed to them to be the perfect moment.  Another friend
claimed to find his place in the universe.  I felt as if my reality
had shifted so that the party was the center of life.  I was not on a
temporary journey from work and everyday life, but had returned to
where I was supposed to be.  Everyday life was the journey itself.

I needed to find out more about this DJ, and it turns out that he was
an American expatriate who moved to the province of Goa in India to
join others disenfranchised with the psychedelic movement of the 60s. 
He studied with Indian spiritual teachers and experimented with
repetitive electronic music as a method for psychological and
spiritual enhancement.  Once his concept jelled, he took it to the
rest of the world, and "became the most successful protagonist of
psychedelic electronic dance" (Mushroom Magazine:  Much of modern rave and dance
culture owes a debt to Goa Gil.

A graduate student named Michael Belden McAteer at Reed College's
Division of Philosophy, Religion, and Psychology was also deeply
affected by Goa Gil, and decided to write his master's thesis on the
mechanisms of the "trance dance experience".  You can find his paper

Also, a simple search on Google of "Goa Gil" will find you a good bit
of info as well.

Subject: Re: Psychological effects of musical beats.
From: letmegetback2ya-ga on 25 May 2003 18:14 PDT
Let me get to the foundation of this question for ya...during the
American Civil War there were soldiers who had an important mission
which could effect the outcome of the battle.  There assigned duty was
officially listed as: drummer, musician, and bugler.  When you visit
certain Civil War Memorials, the names are carved in stone with the
rank/title as drummer, musician, and bugler (and some other
instruments I cannot recall right now).  Armys depended on the live
music on the battlefield to drum up the attacking troops.  The
psychological drive to go forward into the jaws of death was launched
by the soldier musician.  The bass drum was used to keep the marching
soldier's left foot in step while moving in columns.  Buddy Rich was a
great trap snare drummer who could cause an entire hall to go crazy. 
Subject: Re: Psychological effects of musical beats.
From: magnesium-ga on 01 Sep 2003 13:25 PDT
I was browsing through old answers, and came across this gem. Voila is
always one of the very most interesting researchers to read, and this
answer typefies his fine work. Bravo, Voila!

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