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Music and dancing as a health regime



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Int J Qual Stud Health Well-being. 2013 Aug 7;8:20597. doi: 10.3402/qhw.v8i0.20597.

Can music serve as a "cultural immunogen"? An explorative study.

Ruud E.

  • Department of Musicology, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway. even.ruud@imv.uio.no


The aim of this study is to explore how people in contemporary society may apply music in their everyday life to improve their health and well-being.

Through a series of qualitative interviews, informants gave their narratives about how music had become a part of their health practice. Six narratives concerning this type of everyday musical self-care are presented, and the following questions are sought to be answered:

  • What kinds of musical practices do people apply in order to regulate their health and promote their sense of well-being?
  • What kind of generative health mechanism can we observe or theorize when people use music to enhance their well-being?
  • What kinds of rituals, contextual circumstances and personal health beliefs are operating in these situations?

The findings suggests that some people may sing, participate in a choir, dance to music, compose songs, play precomposed music, or play in a band as part of a reflexive strategy to improve their health and well-being. Further analysis also identified six generative factors that may contribute to the immunogen functions of music:

  • A pragmatic concept of music,
  • music as a social and emotional resource,
  • music as a supportive self object,
  • musical competency,
  • rituals, and
  • locus of control.

These findings may have implication for the field of music therapy as it will fill the gap between the clinical use of music done by professional music therapists and the everyday "musicking" performed by people outside the institutional practice.


Music; culture; health; health musicking; music therapy; narratives

PMID:  23930988

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps


Music therapy