Does Music Directly Affect a Person’s Heart Rate?

(1) Dayton Regional STEM School, Dayton, Ohio, (2) Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio
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Music can have a profound effect on a person’s body, in that it may cause people to dance and move around, but does it have a direct and significant effect on a person’s heart rate if they are still? In this study, 24 high school students’ heart rates were recorded while listening to 6 selections of 6 different genres of music. The effect of different types of music was tested using heart rate monitors, data collection software, and music from free music archives. We found that music has a significant impact on heart rate. Average heart rates were significantly higher after listening to rock music, despite that selection having the slowest tempo of the six genres tested. Heart rates also significantly decreased after listening to classical music and significantly increased after listening to the subjects’ favorite musical selections. This indicates that someone may be able to decrease or increase their heart rate by simply listening to music. While significant patterns emerged, the study was limited, in that the order of the music was the same for every individual, the sample size was relatively small (n = 24), and heart rates were highly variable between subjects.

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