Mozart . K448

Back in 2006, I got so addicted to a Japanese show — Nodame Cantabile. The show was about Japanese with classical music… what more can I say. It was an adaptation of a manga by Tomoko Ninomiya. I remembered that I used a whole week’s time to binge watch all the episodes and also the movie.

Nodame Cantabile live action TV (Image from midnightinsomniac blog)

In one episode, there was a scene where the 2 main characters, Chiaki and Nodame, practicing Mozart’s Sonata for 2 Pianos in D major, K.448 in a studio room. There was nothing special about the practice scene in the show, however, the piece was a little bit more significant than what most people thought — it was on Pubmed.

“Mozart Effect”

In 1993, Rauscher, Shaw and Ky from University of California, Irvine wrote an article and published it on Nature magazine. The authors set out to investigate the effects of listening to music by Mozart on our spatial reasoning. They got a surprising result that there were a temporary enhancement of spatial-reasoning for the participants, although not lasting for more than 15 minutes. Although the test have no testing in IQ, the results were quickly distorted by the general public. The “Mozart effect” was coined and public recognized that music from Mozart had an increase in general IQ for both adults and children.

Mozart Effect: Fact of Myth? (Image from gilmore.org)

In no time, businessmen saw this as an opportunity to make money. Many Mozart CDs were produced and promoted for babies to increase their IQ. For a regular parent, who wouldn’t want their kids to be smarter and what could be easier than just to listen to music. This hype even got caught up to the government level. In 1998, Zell Miller, governor of Georgia, proposed a state budget that included $105,000 a year to provide every newborn in Georgia with a tape or CD of classical music. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

Facts or Alternative Facts?

What about the scientific community then? In 1999, 2 teams of researchers led by Chabris and Steele published a series of papers and meta-analysis showing that “Mozart Effect” cannot be replicated and cannot be shown to be true. Pietschnig’s team also published a meta-analysis showing that there was little evidence that “Mozart Effect” existed. They further pointed out that Rauscher’s studies on the topic had larger effects shown than their comparisons. This raised the doubt of publication bias. To this day, Chabris did not change his position on the issue, citing that this would only expose more people to the culture.

So… now what?

Personally, I was rather hoping that listening to Mozart or classical music in general will improve my intelligence or general IQ. It is quite disappointing that science has proven otherwise. This topic is rather personal as my wife and I are expecting our first born. I figure that my thousands of classical CDs would be of some help and also justify my continuous collection of them which I was denied to proceed… (duly noted). Interestingly enough, my wife’s Chinese medicine doctor recommended her to listen to more classical music to help the fetus. Irony isn’t it?

Recommendation:

Philips Complete Mozart Edition (0289 464 8502 6)

Piano Music (Box 9)

Performers: Ingrid Haebler and Ludwig Hoffmann

Year: 2000

References:

  1. Rauscher FH, Shaw GL, Ky KN. Music and spatial task performance. Nature. 1993;365(6447):611.
  2. Sack, K (1998–01–15). “Georgia’s Governor Seeks Musical Start for Babies”. The New York Times. p. A12.
  3. Chabris CF. Prelude or requiem for the ‘Mozart effect’?. Nature. 1999;400(6747):826–7.
  4. Steele KM, Dalla bella S, Peretz I, et al. Prelude or requiem for the ‘Mozart effect’?. Nature. 1999;400(6747):827–8.
  5. Steele KM, Brown JD, Stoecker JA. Failure to confirm the Rauscher and Shaw description of recovery of the Mozart effect. Percept Mot Skills. 1999;88(3 Pt 1):843–8.
  6. Pietschnig, J, Voracek, M, Formann, A. Mozart effect-Shmozart effect: A meta-analysis. Intelligence. 2010;38(3):314–23.
Like what you read? Give Leonard Tam a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.