Wendi Shi, MT-BC
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In the 1990s, experiments that attempted to “retrain” the brain using music began to emerge. Alfred A. Tomatis, a French otolaryngologist, was one of the pioneers in designing listening tests and using music to promote healing and development of the brain. His particular usage of the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart led to the term “Mozart Effect.” In 1993, a study by Frances Rauscher, Gordon Shaw, and Catherine Ky showed that participants who listen to ten minutes of Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D major K. 448 experienced a temporary boost in spatial IQ reasoning. Subsequently, numerous studies replicated the original experiment in an attempt to prove or refute the “Mozart Effect.” Though these studies took a scientific approach, they neglected musical analyses that may have provided greater insight regarding the outcomes they reported. What is lacking in all previous studies using Sonata in D Major is an actual understanding of the music itself. Drawing on score evidence, literature journals, and scientific publications, I argue that it is the unique usage of rhythmic pattern in the first movement of Mozart’s Sonata in D major that induces a temporary boost in spatial-task abilities.
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