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Tuning to Raga Maybe Beneficial for the Heart

Tune in to the raga. In a world filled with stress, listening to this form of music could actually cause a decline in the heart rate.//

"Slower music (is found by researchers to have) caused declines in heart rate, with raga music influencing the largest decline," said the popular cyber-based Ask Yahoo! service in a just-released answer.

Ragas or ragam (in Carnatic music) are melodic modes used in Indian classical music. Although classical music is always set in raga, non-classical music too, like popular Indian film songs, sometimes utilise ragas in their compositions.

Ask Yahoo! was responding to a query from Apple Valley, California, whether music affects the heart rate.

Ask Yahoo! is the question-and-answer column of Yahoo! Inc, the Sunnyvale California-headquartered Internet services company that operates a portal and provides a full range of products and services, including its search engine, directory and free email service.

It pointed to recent research put out by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) Publishing Group Ltd and the British Cardiovascular Society that suggests "slow music influences a person's relaxation and that musical pauses modulate heart rhythms (in a good way)".

The study was published in BMJ journal Heart. For the study, a variety of musical genres were used, from techno to raga to classical.

Researchers found that music with faster tempos resulted in increased ventilation, heart rate and blood pressure. When the music was paused, ventilation, heart rate, and blood pressure decreased, sometimes below the beginning rate.

Overall, researchers agreed the style of music was not as important as its pace.

Yahoo! Answers also noted that music has also been shown to reduce stress, benefit athletic performance, and enhance motor function in people with neurological impairments.

Researchers Luciano Bernardi1, C. Porta1 (of Pavia, Ital y) and P. Sleight (of John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford) said in their study: "These effects appeared to depend on the speed of the music rather than on the style. For example, classical and techno styles induced similar results when similarly fast; raga, classical, and dodecaphonic music, all similarly slow, reduced cardio-respiratory responses."

Interestingly, the ancient music form of the raga has been getting a new set of wider interests coming in via cyberspace, with the Wikipedia page devoted to it getting translated into German, French, Cutch, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese and Swedish, apart from Tamil.

There are also online sites like Musical Nirvana (introductory material, raga descriptions), ITC Sangeet Research Academy (a scholarly organisation), Sound of India (raga references with audio and online lessons), Indian Ragas (a guide to all ragas), Swarams, Katapayadhi Sutra and Melakarta.

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