The most beneficial music used in a therapeutic dance intervention

Ms Winifred Beevers1, Professor Meg Morris1,2

1La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia, 2Healthscope, Melbourne, Australia

Aim: The effects of music and movement exercise interventions have been measured and examined, but an examination of the music used has been minimal. This research aimed to determine what it is about music that motivates and sustains people in exercising.

Method: 15 pieces of music used in therapeutic dance classes for people living with Parkinson’s Disease were analyzed. Analysis required collaboration with acoustic engineers, physiotherapists and use of specialized acoustic software. The music was all pre-recorded with no sheet music available. We investigated the music as an acoustic event, that is the tempo, key, harmonic and melodic features, fluctuations and decibel levels.

Results: The results of this interdisciplinary clinical research showed the most effective music ranged in tempo between 108 – 130 bpm, a very clear downbeat, melodic interest and minimal key modulations.

Significance of the findings to allied health: Music can support, direct and motivate movement. Music therapists advocate that music for exercise is most effective when it suits the preferences of participants and the exercise. The right music can improve exercise performance and physical activity, and reduce the perception of fatigue. Choosing music has been difficult as there are few guidelines. This research looked at the music that was most beneficial, identifies the music’s features, and provides a process for selecting similarly effective music.