Saturday, August 6, 2011

Rhythm and rhyme I

Many people skate with earphones in their ears, listening to their favorite music. They may simply enjoy music, think they look cool, or want to avoid interacting with others at the skate park. But regardless of their motivations, research has shown (the following post is a synopsis of a research article by Peter Terry and Costas Karageorhis) that there are solid advantages to listening to music while engaged in sport or exercise:
  • increased positive moods;
  • pre-event arousal or relaxation; 
  • dissociation from pain and fatigue; 
  • improved motor skills when rhythm is matched with required movement patterns;
  • music with a tempo slightly faster than one's 'work rate' can aid athletes in stimulating themselves to go beyond their boundaries.        
 The above researchers have pinpointed four factors that contribute to the motivational nature of music. These are listed below in order of their believed importance. From highest to lowest they are:  
1.Rhythm response: the natural response to musical rhythm, especially tempo;
2.Musicality: response to pitch, harmony, and melody;
3.Cultural impact: the pervasiveness of the music within a society or culture; and
4.Associations: extra-musical associations that a piece of music may evoke such as 'Eye of the Tiger' with Stallone's triumphs in 'Rocky'.
They have also studied three categories of sport related music:
1. Asynchronous: Where music is played in the background during a sport activity without any deliberate attempt to synchronize one's exercise with the music.

2. Synchronous: Where one deliberately performs repetitive movements - i.e. running, rowing, cycling, skipping, aerobics, etc - in time with a beat or tempo.    

3. Pre-task: Where music is listened to prior to participation in a sporting event in order to either arouse or relax athletes in preparation for the event.

All three have been shown to have beneficial effects evident in the performances of many athletes. Some of the more famous cases are: the Ethiopian runner, Haile Gebreselassie, who in 1998 broke the indoor 2000m world record synchronizing his stride to a pop song; the Olympic Winter Games bobsled gold medalists of the same year who trained daily while listening to Whitney Houston's One Moment in Time; and another Olympic champion, super heavyweight boxer, Audley Harrison, who listened to Japanese classical music before bouts in order to ease pre-fight anxiety...

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