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Vera Brandes: Music and the Brain

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depression. There are underlying mechanisms that we look at from a chronobiological perspective, where we know that it’s either the lost ability to relax or the lost ability to activate and we have to look at this individually. But the music has to be something that can be really adopted and become over a certain stretch of time, part of your life and guide you into, back into a healthy state. It may be possible to do this with music that people know, but in order to be able to apply it so that I can say this works with proven and clinical studies, that this music program will help close to ninety percent of the people that are following the listening schedule, saw already within five weeks, we did not hope that this would be so effective, but it was. And we were very surprised and we are very proud that we have been able to develop this program that is helping so many people.

SM: Help me a little further, though, one more step. What does it sound like?

VeraBra Records album cover

VB: The most important thing that I have to say here is that we only use natural instruments, due to our basic research that synthetic rhythms will cause the body rhythms that are already in danger of being not flexible enough, not adaptive enough, primarily in people with this kind of problem. So, natural instruments, natural voices. The architecture of the music is crucial. We have following parameters that we’ve learned from the biochemistry of the body, how many minutes does it take for adrenaline to set in and to slow down. So, it’s something that we’ve also tried in animal models before we’ve applied it to human beings. And it’s something that’s very enchanting. It defies categorizations. It’s not classical, it’s not jazz, it’s not world music, but it certainly has elements from all of these categories. We needed to find something that defied categories because we had to be able to get into the ears of people with a lot of different preferences for a lot of different musical styles. So, I think this is something that I was able to contribute because I’ve been in music production for so many years and it was my specialty to always find the music that was defining the borders of conventional categorizations, which I think, you know, is where the future of the music is anyway, you know. Who needs borders?

SM: Well, I wish we could talk for another twenty minutes, another half hour, or four hours, but I’m afraid our time is up. Thank you so much. This has been another one of our Music and The Brain podcasts. I’ve been talking with Vera Brandes, Director of The Research Program for Music Medicine, Paracelsus Medical Private University, Salzburg, Austria. We’ll all be following your career, following your success and eager to find out how music can solve problems and be good medicine. Thank you.

VB: Thank you very much.

About Music and the Brain
The Library’s Music and the Brain events offer lectures, conversations and symposia about the explosion of new research at the intersection of cognitive neuroscience and music. Project chair Kay Redfield Jamison convenes scientists and scholars, composers, performers, theorists, physicians, psychologists, and other experts at the Library for a compelling 2-year series, with generous support from the Dana Foundation.

More about Vera Brandes
Before she began her career in science, Vera Brandes was an award-winning music producer and founder of VeraBra, her own record company. In Between 1974 and 1999 she released more than 350 CDs featuring a broad spectrum of international artists including the celebrated ensemble Oregon, and promoted a multitude of concerts, tours and festivals. On the 25th of January Miss Brandes – then just 17 years old – organised the historic The Köln Concert, a performance by the legendary Keith Jarrett whose seminal cascade of improvised music has since become a flood. For all of her work in the music industry Miss Brandes received an award for the Most Creative and Innovative Company in music and media in Germany from the Ministry of Economics in 1994.

A celebrated author, Vera Brandes recent books include: Music that works: Contributions of Biology, Neurophysiology, Psychology, Sociology, Medicine and Musicology (English) (Co-Editor: Roland Haas; Springer Vienna, New York, 2009), Life in Rhythm (Leben im Rhythmus), (only available in German), (Co-Author Christian Salvesen; O.W. Barth Verlag, Munich, 2006).

About the Library of Congress podcasts: Library of Congress

See also: Advanced Brain

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