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18 Sep 2020

Mozart Beyond Music Context

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Penning his first compositions at the unbelievably young age of 4, hardly did Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart realize that in a few centuries his works would step far out of the classical music context. Composers might be dreaming of their endeavors being played at the royal gigs, in concert halls and opera houses, at the balls and official events, or even as national anthems. But it’s quite unlikely that any of them imagines the results of his or her talents presented to … eggs, for example?

We already wrote about an interesting and successful experiment where Mozart signature pieces, along with music of other genres, were played to cheese. But it turns out that it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Below are a few of the weirdest yet most wonderful examples of people putting to use the masterpieces by this outstanding composer.

You must have heard about the widely-discussed so-called ‘Mozart Effect’ that implies evident impact on the development of our brain. It was first suggested and studied by Doctor Alfred Tomatis in 1991. Later on, Tel Aviv scientists also suggested that listening to the repetitive melodies in Mozart music (unlike Beethoven’s or Bach’s, for example) helps premature babies calm down and gain weight faster. Since then, YouTube offers, among others, numerous playlists of ‘Mozart music for the babies’ to make their brain form faster and bodies grow healthier. 

While it’s pretty clear with the brain phenomenon (well, classical music does make us better, after all), the marketing specialists, scientists and researchers have gone much further. Why not experiment with some basic products and see if it yields any of the surprising results too, they thought. Two of the great composer’s frontmost works – “Little Night Music” and “The Magic Flute” – were most often picked as the experimental tool.

Thus in 2005, Italian wine-maker Carlo Cignozzi played The Magic Flute on speakers to his vineyards and discovered that it helped the grapes ripen faster (14 days compared to the normal 20). Moreover, the wine became more alcoholic in the end. The experiment gave birth to the first wine completely raised by Mozart – “Flauto Magico”.

Milk seems to enjoy Mozart too. In 2007, a Spanish dairy farmer in Villanueva del Pardillo managed to make his animals calmer and evidently happier. His herd of 700 cows that were herded completely in tune with the harmonies of Mozart’s “Concerto for Flute and Harp” gave 6 liters of milk per animal more than before. This music work relaxed the cows well enough while still keeping them active to the rhythmic melody, which was the key combination for success.

Fish, too, can’t resist some Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. The “Romanza” was played to the seabream at the Agricultural University of Athens for 89 days, and this Mozart serenade made them grow rapidly and develop better. Well, not sure if that’s as great for the fish itself considering the fact that it brings closer the moment it goes to the dining table.

So what about the eggs we mentioned as example at the very beginning? Does Mozart make them ‘eggier’? Looks like he does. Watching the musical achievements of other dairy farmers, the organizers of Mannheim Mozart Festival decided to play Mozart to 3000 hens 14 days in a row and ask the concert-goers if they saw any difference in the product. Be it self-hypnosis or not, the participants insisted that eggs tasted better.

It is scientifically proven that water can respond well to the external stimuli, and sound is something that makes these responses the most tangible. The structure of the water enhanced by Mozart differs greatly from the one influenced by heavy rock music, for comparison. As doctor Masaru Emoto explains in his book “The Message from Water”, Mozart played to water makes its crystals clearer and more structured, which makes its quality close to the one in the mountain springs.

Probably the most experimented-on type of animals – the rats – took part in Mozart studies as well. While already known for being very smart and fast-learning, they showed even more impressive results after listening to “Sonata in D Major for Two Pianos” in 1998. A Wisconsin University psychologist Frances Rauscher discovered that Mozart helped them pass the labyrinth much faster due to stimulating the neuron connections responding for the abstract thinking.

In a similar way, Mozart makes people faster too. It was proved on the athletes of the Greek Olympic team in 2004. Their cardiologist Dr Thanassis Dritsas included 15 minutes of classical works by Mozart into the sportsmen’ daily workout in order to help blood smoothly get to the muscles. As a result, a few months later the team got 6 golden medals which was their biggest Olympic achievement since 1896. 

Another interesting effect can be traced in people’s behavioral patterns. For instance, Pittsburgh University tried to fight students’ excessive craving for alcohol by playing that same Little Night Music for 2 hours on campus through the loudspeakers. At the same time Tyne and Wear Metro used Mozart (and Vivaldi) to scare off the louts, which worked surprisingly well for some reason. By the way, the disciplinary effect was also proved on the dogs of West Hatch kennels where Mozart and Bach helped quiet the disobedient canine pupils. Woof.

And finally (though definitely not lastly, it seems), Mozart aids decomposing. Yes, a very universal tool he is. According to Anton Stucki who works at the sewage center near Berlin, playing “The Magic Flute” at the plant helped the center save over a thousand euros per month due to the faster tempo of biomasses breakdown. The experts believe that the secret hides in the penetrating vibrations that create resonance for the microbes to function better. They argue that only Mozart music can work effectively for this purpose as it sounds at the necessary frequencies.

How many more discoveries concerning Mozart music are yet to come? This undisputable music genius probably had little idea about the extensive powers of his heritage stretching for many generations ahead. Today we are the lucky ones – we have the possibility to enjoy, play and preserve his music for the future.

18 Aug 2020

Compose Music for the Common Goal of Peace in Belarus!

Dear music lovers!

20 years ago our Belarus programmer team came together. It helped create MusicaNeo to facilitate the digital distribution of music and allow composers to become independent.

While everyone spoke badly about Belarus, I always loved and admired it. Its people are friendly, diligent and tolerant. Life has become much better over the last 20 years, despite of any financial crises. But today, I am deeply worried about what is going on.

Therefore, I ask you to compose music for the common goal of peace! Upload it to MusicaNeo, where it shall be prominently displayed.

Start a dialogue with the power of music!

Please share your friendship, whenever you can – especially today with Belarus!

Thank you!


CEO MusicaNeo

06 Aug 2020

The Major Sound of the Extraterrestrial: Meet Theremin


Close your eyes for a second to remember Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Spellbound – what is the first thing that you hear thinking about the film? That eerie theme written by ‎the Hungarian-American composer Miklós Rózsa to depict the arrival of the aliens is created with the help of one of the weirdest yet most interesting instruments called theremin. Crowned the father of eccentric rare music instruments, it is the main focus of today’s article.

Hitchcock was not the first and the only one to use theremin in his work. Due to the specific sounding, it was widely featured in other films, like The Day the Earth Stood Still (Bernard Herrmann), First Man (Justin Hurwitz), Odna (Dmitri Shostakovich), The Delicate Delinquent (Jerry Lewis), Midsomer Murders (Jim Parker), Mars Attacks (Danny Elfman).

As you can notice, the theme of most these TV works is kinda intercrossing and the use of theremin revolves around similar topics and moods. But why did composers pick exactly this instrument? The answer may hide in the very mechanics of theremin’s sound. Rich and universal in nature, it was created as a no-contact electronic music instrument that produces a great variety of sounds with the help of two antennae. The horizontal loop antenna is responsible for the volume, while the upright one – for the pitch. The Russian physicist Leon Theremin, who patented it in 1928 in the US, was initially part of the Soviet research dedicated to proximity sensors. 

Although the invention did not immediately become a commercial success, it seemed to fascinate the audiences for its originality and suitability for various repertoires, from classical to rock. Thus, the first biggest fans to compose specifically for theremin were Henry Cowell (USA) and Edgard Varèse (France-USA). Below you can listen to Varèse’s “Ecuatorial” that was among the first pieces to mix traditional ensemble instruments and their new unusual colleague: 

It’s not only alien-themed works that sound great on theremin. For example, Gershwin wrote a beautiful Romantic suite (“First Airphonic Suite”) as a dedication to Leon Theremin, elegantly featuring theremin as if it were a leading violin or a cello. This is why you can actually perform most classical pieces on this instrument without fearing that it won’t fit in naturally enough. To begin with, try some suites by Percy Grainger (“Free Music Suites”).

Taking into consideration that theremin is basically the daddy of electronic music, it is no wonder that popular music found a spot for it too. You can hear the theremin or its analogues in “Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys, “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin, “Between the Buttons” album by The Rolling Stones. 

Going back to the most popularized sphere of theremin’s use, it’s important to mention the real Extraterrestrial Concert, a broadcast that took place in 2001 in Crimea. The so-called concert was transmitted during three days as part of an interstellar radio message. The theremin recordings of seven melodies were played, among them Beethoven’s “9th Symphony”, Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise”, Vivaldi’s “Spring” from The Four Seasons. The scores to all of the above mentioned compositions can be found in our catalogue in addition to the separate theremin sheet music section.

We hope you’ve learnt something new about this unique instrument and, who knows, maybe had a desire to play a suite or two for the aliens.

24 Mar 2020

Musicians At Home: Things To Do In Isolation

Planet Earth

It’s impressive how an entire world can change within just a few months. Economies fall, health systems collapse and people get locked down for weeks. And all that happens not because of some huge extraterrestrial invasion or Godzilla attack but because of a tiny yet forceful virus.

While people worldwide have already learnt to wash hands well, keep the social distance and not panic, most of them have faced a problem of self-organizing at home. It’s not that easy to give up all the usual activities at once and get isolated in a limited space for an unknown period of time that is still quite vague in predictions. In order to alleviate this consequence, a lot of companies and organizations re-arranged the way of providing their services. Some TV streaming or educational platforms, for example, offer a month-long subscription free of charge to all their customers stuck at home. 

Now that most gigs and concerts are cancelled, big artists and concert halls try to transfer the performances into the digital format. Thus, noted pianist Denis Matsuev gave a live concert in Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow with zero viewers in person but thousands of viewers online. A lot of music bands and solo artists that also have to keep the quarantine do online streams of some songs or entire gigs. Common people in Italy and Spain get on the balconies to play music in unison with other musicians of the street block.

Fortunately, today if you have a PC and Internet connection, a lot of useful activities become available to you right in your room. Musicians are no exception to the rule of self-isolation but they have a little bonus with them – creative work. If you are a player, composer, arranger or music enthusiast of any kind, there’s quite a lot to do at home. Why not try to spend this time with profit?

Now that you’ve probably slept for as long as you hadn’t slept in a long time, time to start fighting procrastination and get down to doing things. We’ve made a short list of ideas you could use as guidelines to a rewarding quarantine time. 

Practice/Compose. Your major activity, of course. When else will you have so much time for it? You could also do joint Skype rehearsals and even little concerts with your colleagues (we hope your neighbors won’t hate you too much for that). There’s a chance that by the time it all ends, you will emerge as a different-level player already! Composers can focus on long-time works and commissions and finish minor pieces they had been putting on a shelf.

Advanced pieces. Remember that nasty complicated movement you could never handle? Time has come to conquer it. What about learning a few challenging etudes you always liked but feared?

Update CV. Having your resume neat and ready is always a good thing. Check if it needs updating.

Personal website. Take care of the main sections – categorize sheet music, update texts at the main page or bio, share your thoughts in an article, add more pics to the gallery and of course, upload more scores and audio samples. If you don’t have a personal site yet, consider getting one, it can be easily done for free.

Old scores. Check your earlier music works to fix the scores that often seem to have some little issues to correct. You’ll have plenty of time for editing those.

Recordings. Now anyone can become a successful YouTube blogger. Why not make a recording of a piece? Even if it’s not about blogging, it’s great for performers to have a look at themselves from the side, and for composers – to find someone who would perform their work on video.

Grants and contests. Search the web for interesting music happenings in the world to consider. Now most competitions hold the eliminatory stage in absentia by video applications. Visit our Music Competitions section for some options too.

Online collaborations. Enjoy communication in various music theme forums to find support and maybe even creative collaboration from fellow-stuck colleagues.

Artwork. How about learning to draw or to play a new instrument? Maybe you always wanted to add ukulele or a recorder to your skills? Now that delivery services work at maximum to help you out, you can think of a new hobby to take up.

Read. People often complain about the complete lack of time for reading. Now it’s there.

Tidy up, after all. Remember all those tasks you were eternally busy to deal with at home? Clean environment is believed to make a positive influence on the work process, even if it’s a ‘creative mess’, it’d better be fresh.

Now that you look up on the list, the labour day already seems quite busy, doesn’t it. We hope our little pieces of advice will make your quarantine more fruitful and joyful as well. Share your ways of making home time productive in the comments. 

Stay healthy and take care!

Video: British artist Stephen Ridley performs a re-worked version of John Lennon’s “Imagine” on a public piano at an empty metro station in London, dedicating the song to the world.