Anyone who has used a peppy tune to pick them up or brooded to their favorite melancholy ballad knows that music can impact your mental state.
Michael Tyrrell, author, composer and producer of the healing frequency music projectWholetones says that not only can music impact your mental state, it can actually make you more productive. However, it’s not really the music that can have this affect—it’s the musical frequencies.
Musical frequencies identified by a unit called Hertz, or hz. This measurement is a change in the state or cycle of a sound wave at the rate of one cycle per second. How does this work? Let’s look at an example.
If you tune a guitar to 432hz, this means when one of its string is plucked, it will go up and down (vibrate) 432 times per second. How can this impact your mood? Well, frequencies spread in their environment—so when the guitar vibrates 432 times a second, so will the person strumming it, and the person listening. Studies have shown that this frequency rate may be the reason music impacts our mental and emotional health.
“There has been quite a bit of research that goes into the impact music has on your mental state,” says Tyrrell. “For example, it has been shown through scientific and medical trials that a musical frequency level of 396hz completely relaxes the body. A lot of CEOs are using frequencies of 417hz to boost creativity in their teams.”
Tyrrell offers up three reasons that listening to music at the right frequency and can help you be more productive in or out of the office:
1. Music and specific frequencies allow the body and brain to become more relaxed and concentrate harder at the task at hand.
2. Specific frequencies promote the body’s own productivity centers by stimulating the brain and increasing the responsiveness of nuero pathways. This makes it easier to think, react and focus on what’s immediately in front of you.
3. Some well-known frequencies can increase processing difficulty within the brain, which promotes abstract processing, leading to higher creativity and a laser sharp focus.
Tyrrell suggests seeking music that averages around 417hz to provide the optimal level of sound to improve concentration and attentiveness, and boost creativity.
How about music we should avoid? Tyrrell notes that in America, the average overall tuning of music projects tend to be 440hz. Think Top 40 hits and whatever is pouring out of the popular radio stations. Unfortunately, research shows a negative impact on productivity in this tuning range. “The optimum range for relaxation is 396hz—nearly 50hz lower than what is standard,” explains Tyrrell. “If you’re trying to concentrate and really boost your productivity, anything within the Top 40 is not going to help you very much.”
Could ambient noises do the same thing? Tyrrell says no. “White noise does not provide the same stimulating effect as specific frequencies simply because our mind is conditioned to mostly ignore them,” he says. “Of course sea waves will help lull you to sleep, but that is a very different reaction than focusing your mind and allowing you to become instantly more productive.”
What about for those of us who find that music—any music—distracts us from work? Tyrrell suggests lowering the volume so it’s barely perceptible. “If that still proves too distracting,” says Tyrrell, “I would suggest taking a few minutes to stop your task and meditate. Focus your breathing and your thoughts on the purpose and task that you wish to finish quickly. Take ten minutes and devote all of your energy to that task as you take deep breaths, clearing your mind of any other distractions.” Once you’re calm, move back to the music.