We conducted an interview with Vera Brandes, a creative music-scientist. Topic of the interview: sleep and the potential of music. Learn in an interesting two-part-story more about the effective meaning of music medicine.
The potential of music
Editor: Why did you, a former successful music producer, start dealing with the medical effectiveness of music?
Vera Brandes: At an early age, I’ve started working in music-related jobs. With 15 years, I organized concerts, later on concert tours. Also, I started record labels. And, as life goes, some critical life experiences led me to a realignment in my life. I’ve tried to ease the serious illness of my mother with music. Furthermore, I was involved in a serious car accident after which I was bed-ridden for several weeks.
E: What were your ideas to make your mother’s ailments more tolerable and what was her reaction?
VB: I’ve “planted” a portable music player in her pillow. Like this, my mother was able to listen to music without having to use headphones; these would rather have been an obstacle at that time. She obviously felt better. Unfortunately, a verbal communication was impossible at this time because of her atypical coma.
E: And how did your personal healing come along with music?
VB: After a car accident I had several fractures in my spine. Thus, I had to lay for a very long time and were not allowed to raise or to turn to a side. Besides Jin Shin Jyutsu, a Buddhistic Healing Mantra – which was not even intended for me but my roommate in hospital and chanted for her by her family members and friends – helped me. They visited her every day. After only two weeks, my severe fractures were completely healed; not only to my surprise but also to the doctors surprise.
E: Now, what made you research the potential of music?
VB: Surely, the two mentioned life-changing experiences were the initial sparks. Then, some vocational projects led me to Salzburg, Austria – and there I found my way to science. After I already had been lecturer for other subjects at the University of Applied Sciences at Salzburg, I belonged to the founding team of the research network “Human Being and Music”, established by the University Mozarteum. Then, at the foundation of the “Paracelsus Medical University of Salzburg” I have been invited to establish a research program for Music Medicine and to research into the effect of music. Our scientific research formed the first basis for an audio-therapy for the effective treatment of depressions as well as for the cooperation with SAMINA.
E: How does this sleep-healthy-product work and look like?
VB: The SAMINA Soundlife Sleep System© – its full name – is a pillow combining music and magnetic effect. Goal is, to improve falling asleep or to make falling asleep and sleeping through even possible. Therefore, extensive research and developments were necessary, because, depending on the tone the frequency changes. And not all frequencies have the desired effect. Already in the 18th century, the Physician Chladni as well as in the 20th Century Hans Jenny made first examinations concerning this matter. In the broadest sense, we were able to base on these examinations. The human body is very complex and just like with the pillows in our research we strived for precise and suitable frequencies for achieving the desired effect.
E: Can you not just listen to relaxation music, like Mozart, for example, via your MP3 player and headset?
VB: During our researches we noticed that the transmission technology plays an important role. Today, conventional technologies, especially in-ear-headphones have shown bad results in respect to the desired effect. Because, the human brain only recognizes known musical stereotypes of the heard musical work. The tiny bits and pieces of music are only set together in our brain. Now, the human brain totally depends on the acoustic stimulation to be optimally supplied from the chronobiologic point of view. Now, common MP3 transmission only transfers fragmented parts of music – MP3 sound files have a very restricted sound quality in favor of the file size. Therefore, only a partial positive effect of the music is transferred. The technologies of the sound pillow focused on a design that enables transport and stimulation of the highest possible positive effect of the original capacity of the effect of music.
More about music and our reactions to it as well as to the potential of music and its effect on our sleep in part 2.