A Lullaby For Pain

Listening to the radio this morning there was an item about whether the sound of a lullaby can actually take away a child’s pain.

A study at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital has showed that playing music to children waiting for heart transplants can actually reduce pain, slow heart rates and improve moods.

The BBC report included the following explanation:

One of the study’s authors, David Hargreaves, of Roehampton University, is a jazz pianist as well as professor of music psychology.

As he sits playing a jazz interpretation of My Funny Valentine, he says the piece calms him down and makes him happy.

He says that kind of connection with music is shared even by young children: “Lullabies are something that children are familiar with. They’re intended by parents to be used with their children to create relaxation and remove tension.”

It’s the kind of thing that intuitively makes sense but now researchers have some hard facts to back up the idea. (For the full BBC report, go here – apparently lullabies date back to Babylonian times).

Listening to the report, my mind went off on a bit of a tangent (as it’s prone to do) and I wondered if that ‘dealing with pain’ is another of the (many) reasons why teenagers spend so long listening to music.

Growing up can be traumatic and I certainly spent many, many, many hours shut away listing to ‘my’ music. I wasn’t in physical pain but angst and emotional confusion also need treatment and music played a big role in mine.

Music certainly affects mood. I used to love listening to dark, tormented tunes when I was feeling low – knowing other people felt the same way helped me deal my own emotions. Equally, there are some tunes that just make me feel good the moment I hear the first notes.

LouReed03PA090112On a sadder note, there’s been lots of coverage of the passing of Lou Reed. Now, there’s a man who’s music I’ve spent a lot of time listening to.

Though I do get a little bit annoyed by all the radio stations who play Perfect Day and Walk On The Wild Side – okay they were his biggest commercial hits but to my mind they’re not the important songs.

This is Reed and David Bowie performing the Velvet Underground’s White Light, White Heat – important to note that although Bowie went on to become (and remain) the global mega-star, in the beginning it was Reed that influenced Bowie:

If you want something a bit closer to the knuckle, here’s I Wanna Be Black from 1978. Recorded in Cleveland, there aren’t many people who could get away with these lyrics:

I love most of Lou Reed’s work but one of my favourite albums – and one that I was lucky enough to see him perform – remains Magic & Loss. This is Sword Of Damocles:

 

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