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The ISO principle - music for your mood

While we choose music to suit our mood without thinking too much, there's a concept behind it called the ISO principle.

Published: 04th May 2021 07:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th May 2021 07:21 AM   |  A+A-

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BENGALURU: We all instinctively know that music is great to mirror our moods. When you're in a happy mood, you tend to listen to listen to upbeat peppy music, and when you're feeling teenage angst some emo rock could do the trick.

While we choose music to suit our mood without thinking too much, there's a concept behind it called the ISO principle. And the ISO principle is important because it tells us that in addition to using music to mirror your mood, you can also use music to alter it.

In a controlled setting, this could be starting by listening to music that matches your heart rate or respiration (a very fast song if your heart is beating very fast), and then slowly bringing down the tempo of the songs you are listening until you're listening to something at a slow tempo, which can produce both a mental and a physiological calming effect.

This is something useful to keep in mind as we continue to navigate unprecedentedly stressful times, and many, if not most of us are dealing with anxiety. Here’s to implement the ISO principle at home, and try to improve your mood (or the mood of others around you):

  • Don’t try to change your mood like flipping a switch. Acknowledge what you are feeling and accept that it's okay. Take a few deep breaths.

  • Find the music that you want to listen to at that time - music that resonates with you in that state. There's no right or wrong here - if Somewhere Over the Rainbow feels like a calming song to you and a sad song to someone else that’s perfectly fine. If you have a go-to song, save it as a favourite for easy access.

  • Gradually choose songs that can move you from the state you are in, to the state you want to be. Be aware of your breathing and your heartrate. Again, it’s not an immediate process, it can take a little time to settle down.

  • If you are able to, having some calming music playing in the background through the day. Instrumental music has been shown to be beneficial, but always choose music that you like.

(The authors run SaPa - the Subramaniam Academy of Performing Arts)



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