“Music and Industry”

     ( It is in my interest that I present below some portions of  my article published in 1991 in a news magazine. This is just a prefatory to the chief field of investigations that we were to engage in and move on further at that time. Forgive me if it runs to a little more than two pages but enjoy the info. Brevity compels me to compromise coherence here)


     “King Saul overcame his depression due to David’s harp, notes the Bible” ;

     “Philip, the Spanish King, suffering from acute melancholia was shaken out of his state of despondency to a state of ecstasy” ;

     “The legend of Pied Piper entranced the town’s children with such artistry to lead them off never to be seen again” ;

     “Negro Stevdores and laborers of Iowa (U.S.A.) had their morale lifted and toil alleviated often ”  –  These are the powers of Apollo, the God of  Music. It was/is known that music possesses strange powers – power of healing; influencing the psyche; work; mood; and even the performance and success of human being. SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATIONS details the accounts of MUSIC ,  positive and negative. How effectively we can transform this “Resource” is all about this article.

     Historical Account Use of ‘lullabies’ to calm infants is known – specially to all mothers. As adults we play music for ‘recreation and relaxation’. You cannot walk down the street or go to a beach without hearing some form of music. Apprentices sang in European Factories in reprieve of tough working conditions (15th Century records show).  Uhrbrock in 1911 predicted that music will be used in workplaces in 1980s to stimulate employees to break production records. Research studies cite Productivity, Quality of Production, Morale, Attitude, Collaboration, & Social interaction as some factors influenced by Music.  A Classical study on how American Industries were using ‘music‘  gave compelling evidence to the definitive effects of music at Work.

     Music and Productivity :  1940s witnessed three scientists exploring factory production. While the positive effects were emphasized by two of them, the third found no impact in a study of 142 women in ‘rug manufacturing’ company. Types of music, types of tasks, familiarity with music, & different settings involved seem to affect  the discrepancies in findings. Controlled experiments took stage and dominated/rejuvenated interest in this direction.   Music elevated work output from 2.8% to 17% in about 56% of the plants – reported Scientist Ross of the United States of America. Lively music improved performance while slow music tended to have negative effects – reported another scientist, Gareb.  Data Processing Departments, Cosmetics manufacturing plants, Assembly Operations, Machine & Billing Departments of Power and Light Companies, and Banks were a few other organizations where 21%  to  54%  DECREASE IN ERROR RATES of OPERATIONS were noted !  Employees also preferred to work in an environment providing a background pleasing to the ears also cannot be disputed. There was this instance of employees presenting a petition to the management to RESTORE  MUSIC when it was removed just for experimental purposes in an assembly plant. Music undoubtedly is linked to PERFORMANCE !

     A caution now !     Not all types of music had the same impact on all people. Either SLOW or FAST TEMPO MUSIC showed LESS SCRAPPAGE than a combination of both in a study of female assemblers of RADIO TUBES. Vocal music to be avoided because workers paid  too much attention to the words and less attention to the job.  It also DISTRACTED the ATTENTION of employees in a dressing room when an experiment was conducted.   Duration of music also had its effect. Continuous music did not have as favorable effect as  Spaced programs. Continuous Music BLENDED with the background and went unnoticed. Another study reported that MUSIC be played 12% of the time during day shift & as much as 50% during the night shift. As a general rule, 2 or 3 periods of music of less than 30 minutes each produce the best results. Another way of achieving good result is to present an ascending musical program – a program which is pre-designed to provide progressive stimulation by beginning with a slow tempo & increasing it throughout the program. This kind of a program acts to inhibit the effects of fatigue and boredom. An opportunity to our music corporations to be smart to market pre-recorded music programs !

     Impact on Attitude :  Our own experiences everyday indicate that music exerts a Psychological impact on us. Certain songs; certain sounds elicit characteristic emotional responses. Researchers opine that one’s Cultural milieu; personal experiences; situational factors; and perhaps even genetic factors may all help to shape the mood that characterizes an individual’s immediate response to a particular musical selection. Shaping the employees’ attitude by enhancing the mood is a definite benefit. Industry has a point to note here !  Almost all employees prefer music on the job and only a very small percentage actually dislike it. They felt MUSIC to be Helpful; Relaxing; and contributed to creating a Friendlier atmosphere in a Clerical Section of a Power Tool Manufacturing unit. Music tends to take the mind off monotonous tasks that give the experience of getting nowhere & that progress may be perceived by moving through a musical program, according to a pioneering researcher in U.S.A.


     Impact on Athletic Performance : A classical study notes that the average time per mile during a bicycle race in New York City was 17 seconds faster when a MUSICAL BAND was playing than in periods when no music was played. Even crowd noise in such  events can elevate performance, opines another researcher while conducting extensive tests on the performance of athletes. If music can facilitate athletic performance, a question that naturally follows is whether music can facilitate the learning of athletic skills. Can we use music as a TEACHING AID ? Many college swimming clubs in U.S.A. and U.K. use music as an accompaniment for their swimming.  Coaches; instructors; and aquatic officials believe rhythm is important in both SPEED SWIMMING  &  FORM SWIMMING>  Such skills as Throwing; Catching; Climbing; Balancing; Jumping; Leaping; Dodging; Bouncing; & Striking can be taught to STUDENTS even from elementary school level for developing talents and performance. Are our Physical Instructors listening !

     India sports a diverse Culture with people of different Linguistic preferences, apart from the fact that MUSIC itself displays different forms – Hindustani;  Carnatic;  Western Classical;  Light Music;  Folk Music; etc.,  Research on the effects of MUSIC on employees is becoming a separate aspect of interest and explorations despite some contrasting results of earlier studies. There is a definite need to improve the Quality of Life – at Work; in Homes; and in the Community.  MUSIC can well be the answer to this.

     (Today we have moved beyond all these to realize the benefits of MUSIC in terms of  “COLLABORATION;  CREATIVITY  &  CONFLICT AVOIDANCE”   to make our CAREERS  SUCCESSFUL.  Refer to the NYT article under the piece Opinion of 13 Oct 2013  in substantiation at a different level in consonance with today’s developments and needs, but nevertheless reflecting and reinforcing the POINTS cited in my Article of 1991.  It  proves that  “Colors  may  Fade;  Empires may Fall; Temples may Crumble;  but Principles and Wise words will always Endure. ”   MUSIC whether in Old Times or in New Age leaves its imprint firmly in all Human Endeavors.)

     “Dieu avec nous”



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: