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The use of music therapy in surgery and anaesthesia



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

The Singing Neanderthals – Dr Steven Mithen

One of [music therapy’s] most significant functions is to relax patients who are preparing for, undergoing or recovering from surgery notably dental, burns and coronary treatments. It is now well attested that music with slow, steady tempos, legato passages, gentle rhythms, predictable change, simple sustained melodies and narrow pitch ranges is conducive to relaxation and can lead to a significant decrease in anxiety. By the use of such 'sedative music’, doctors have been able to reduce doses of anaesthetics and other pain-relief medication, while patients have benefited from shorter recovery periods and have expressed higher degrees of satisfaction.

To quote one recent report on the use of music at the Spingte Clinic in Germany:

Fifteen minutes of soothing music lulls the patient into such a state of well-being that only 50 per cent of recommended doses of sedatives and anaesthetic drugs are needed to perform otherwise very painful operations. Indeed, some procedures are now undertaken without any anaesthetic. …. More invigorating music then alerts the patients' systems so they can actively respond to the surgeon. Once this is complete the music then takes the patient back into a relaxed state of recovery.

The source of the experience

Scientist other

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Being anaesthetised


Music therapy