Theory. One very helpful theory for understanding how this is possible is the Optimal Complexity Theory by Berlyne (North & Hargreaves, 1995; Tan, Spackman, & Peaslee, 2006), which is applied to various aesthetics. The theory states that if the aesthetic quality is not optimal, the experience will be negatively aﬀected. This can be applied to music listening and the aesthetic qualities of the music source. Music that is either too complex or not complex enough will be rated as less enjoyable or disliked. The factors that create complexity in music vary and are personalized. Previous exposure to the song, familiarity with instrumentation, chordal progressions, melodic structure, variance from original song structure, and listening environment are all examples of factors that can contribute to how complex a music experience is rated.
How it Works Music therapists will commonly choose live music to use during procedural support due to their ability to change the music itself in response to the patient experience, behaviors, and mood state. If a song is too familiar or too unfamiliar, it is likely the patient will not engage with the song. If a song is too soft or too loud, it is likely the music listening experience will be negatively aﬀected. If a song is not in its original instrumentation or voicing, it is possible the music listening experience will be negatively aﬀected. In addition to these assessments, music therapists consider the emotional stress of the hospital environment on the patient. If a patient has never been in a hospital before, the emotional stress will impact his/her ability to process new information and remain regulated. This aﬀects the level of music familiarity necessary for a patient to have a positive experience. Meaning, choosing music that is new or novel may not be appropriate during a new stressful medical experience. choosing music that is very familiar but presented with diﬀerent instrumentation may prove to be optimal due to the novelty of the voicing, but familiarity of the chordal progression and melodic movement.
Figure 3. Complexity of music/attributes.
Any indication that a patient is not optimally engaged in the music therapy intervention will typically result in a change of the music being played. Music therapists are skilled observers who modify musical experiences in the moment to achieve desired outcomes.
Now, when applying points1 and 2 to the experience a child has in a hospital setting during a medical procedure such as a CT scan, MRI, xray, ultrasound, echocardiogram, or IV start, the following points need to be considered: All music is not created equally. The assessment of patient needs is fluid and ongoing. Previous exposure matters.
imagine 7(1), 2016
In this issue, over 70 authors from 12 countries share their dedication and passion for early childhood music therapy with imagine readers....