Mormon Tabernacle Choir Blog

An Amazing Phenomenon Happens to the Heartbeats of Choir Members When They Sing Together

We all know that music makes us feel good, but this is beyond feeling good—researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenberg have conducted a study that shows a link between choral singing and increased or decreased pulse rate.

The research group, led by Björn Vickhoff, assessed the heart rates of fifteen 18-year-old students who performed several vocal exercises including monotone humming, chanting, and singing the familiar Swedish hymn “Härlig är is jorden" (Lovely is the Earth). Choir members singing in unison not only caused their voices and breathing to be synchronized but their heart rates as well.

The study shows that the melody of music and structure has a direct link to choir members’ cardiac activity. In an interview, Vickhoff explained: “Singing regulates activity in the so-called vagus nerve which is involved in our emotional life and our communication with others and which, for example, affects our vocal timbre. Songs with long phrases achieve the same effect as breathing exercises in yoga. In other words, through song we can exercise a certain control over mental states.”

Although many throughout time have speculated about positive health effects of music, scientific studies such as this one are helping to prove the link between singing and health. The researchers theorize that singing with a calm and regular breathing pattern has a powerful effect on our heart rate—which is assumed to have a positive effect on our health. Watch the video about the study.

Watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square perform “Requiem aeternam, from the album Requiem and Other Choral Works, by Mack Wilberg.