The most relaxing–and most boring–music ever

Scientists measuring brain waves have discovered the most relaxing piece of music ever, an artificially composed tune called “Weightless.”  It’s so relaxing that they are warning people not to drive while listening to it.  To say it’s relaxing is  another way of saying that it’s the most boring tune ever.  You can listen to it, below, if you dare.

British band and a group of scientists have made the most relaxing tune in the history of man, an Mp3 of which is at the bottom of this article.

Sound therapists and Manchester band Marconi Union compiled the song. Scientists played it to 40 women and found it to be more effective at helping them relax than songs by Enya, Mozart and Coldplay.

“Weightless” works by using specific rhythms, tones, frequencies and intervals to relax the listener. A continuous rhythm of 60 BPM causes the brainwaves and heart rate to synchronise with the rhythm: a process known as ‘entrainment’. Low underlying bass tones relax the listener and a low whooshing sound with a trance-like quality takes the listener into an even deeper state of calm.

Dr David Lewis, one of the UK’s leading stress specialists said: “‘Weightless’ induced the greatest relaxation – higher than any of the other music tested. Brain imaging studies have shown that music works at a very deep level within the brain, stimulating not only those regions responsible for processing sound but also ones associated with emotions.”

The study – commissioned by bubble bath and shower gel firm Radox Spa – found the song was even more relaxing than a massage, walk or cup of tea. So relaxing is the tune, apparently, that people are being Rex advised against listening to it while driving.

via Scientists discover most relaxing tune ever – Music – ShortList Magazine.

First of all, music or any art form is not supposed to be relaxing!  On the contrary, it’s supposed to seize and focus your attention!  It is not a good thing when music puts you to sleep.  I defy you to listen to “Weightless”–an appropriate name, since the music indeed is weightless–all the way through (beware:  it’s 8 minutes, which is part of what makes it so tedious, I mean, relaxing):

Marconi Union – Weightless

HT:  Joe Carter

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • reg

    Sounds like an extended introduction to any number of Pink Floyd songs.

  • reg

    Sounds like an extended introduction to any number of Pink Floyd songs.

  • Dan Kempin

    “music or any art form is not supposed to be relaxing! On the contrary, it’s supposed to seize and focus your attention!”

    That’s an interesting and unexpected statement. I’m not sure I really understand. Would you be willing to develop it a bit more?

    It’s just that the first quote to come to my mind is “music soothes the savage beast.” Mothers (and fathers) have sung lullabies to their children for time beyond history. They are very relaxing.

    Or maybe you are just getting at the point that this “song” is not so much music as it is soothing noise. It is not designed to capture the conscious attention (in fact, specifically designed to NOT capture the conscious attention.) It is, perhaps, more in the realm of hypnosis than music.

    In any case, this would be a great song for the dentist’s chair. Seriously. Stare up at those bright lights, let your eyes unfocus, and float above the sound of grinding and the smell of smoke . . .

  • Dan Kempin

    “music or any art form is not supposed to be relaxing! On the contrary, it’s supposed to seize and focus your attention!”

    That’s an interesting and unexpected statement. I’m not sure I really understand. Would you be willing to develop it a bit more?

    It’s just that the first quote to come to my mind is “music soothes the savage beast.” Mothers (and fathers) have sung lullabies to their children for time beyond history. They are very relaxing.

    Or maybe you are just getting at the point that this “song” is not so much music as it is soothing noise. It is not designed to capture the conscious attention (in fact, specifically designed to NOT capture the conscious attention.) It is, perhaps, more in the realm of hypnosis than music.

    In any case, this would be a great song for the dentist’s chair. Seriously. Stare up at those bright lights, let your eyes unfocus, and float above the sound of grinding and the smell of smoke . . .

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I can’t listen to this at work, but I have to agree with Dan that there is a place for relaxing music. I personally go through life like a wildebeest on the veldt, watching my six for threats every moment. Anything that can help me relax a little (when I’m safely dug in, of course), is welcome. Something like this might help me sleep at night.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I can’t listen to this at work, but I have to agree with Dan that there is a place for relaxing music. I personally go through life like a wildebeest on the veldt, watching my six for threats every moment. Anything that can help me relax a little (when I’m safely dug in, of course), is welcome. Something like this might help me sleep at night.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    I fell asleep reading this post…

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    I fell asleep reading this post…

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Let’s be honest. We would probably pay $100 for that piece if it would get Jr. to go to sleep. As a mom who has spent many an overtired hour with a little baby, I would offer that this piece/peace definitely has its place.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Let’s be honest. We would probably pay $100 for that piece if it would get Jr. to go to sleep. As a mom who has spent many an overtired hour with a little baby, I would offer that this piece/peace definitely has its place.

  • http://jdueck.net Joel D.

    Who or what decides what “music or any art form” is “supposed” to do? I agree with Dan, such a sweeping statement needs some substance to back it up if it is to be taken seriously.

  • http://jdueck.net Joel D.

    Who or what decides what “music or any art form” is “supposed” to do? I agree with Dan, such a sweeping statement needs some substance to back it up if it is to be taken seriously.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Hey, sorry that the music plays immediately upon opening the “comments”! I hope it doesn’t put any of you into a coma. Those of you who like relaxing music, do you like this? (More on the nature of art later.)

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Hey, sorry that the music plays immediately upon opening the “comments”! I hope it doesn’t put any of you into a coma. Those of you who like relaxing music, do you like this? (More on the nature of art later.)

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I wonder if this music could be weaponized.

    We could use drones to install music generators all over Afghanistan that will play it in an endless loop to the Taliban.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I wonder if this music could be weaponized.

    We could use drones to install music generators all over Afghanistan that will play it in an endless loop to the Taliban.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    From a scientific standpoint, of course, this is pure fluff. The “study”, if we can even call it that, was “commissioned by bubble bath and shower gel firm Radox Spa”. Um.

    Did scientists warn “people not to drive while listening to it”? No. The bubble bath people did. Because that’s humorous and/or intriguing marketing copy. And boy, I bet their shower gel will really provide a relaxing moment in my otherwise hectic day!

    Best I can tell, there’s no basis to the claim that this is “the most relaxing tune ever”. It appears to be the most relaxing of the several tunes they tested. I mean, how else would you test these things out?

    Also, it would seem everyone posting this news “story” is unaware of this whole music genre (let’s call it “ambient”). It’s not really my thing, but there are certainly quite a number of artists or composers putting out songs like this — is this really the “most relaxing” of all songs in that genre?

    About the only thing that might make such a song stand out is the 60 bpm tempo. A lot of ambient music has no obvious tempo at all — and thus, no “entrainment” for physiological effects.

    Anyhow, I listened all the way through. It’s not like it’s hard to listen to. I wrote most of this comment while listening to it. Ambient music kind of suggests that it’s background music — music done while doing something besides actively listening to it. As a former college DJ, I’ve endured much more challenging fare.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    From a scientific standpoint, of course, this is pure fluff. The “study”, if we can even call it that, was “commissioned by bubble bath and shower gel firm Radox Spa”. Um.

    Did scientists warn “people not to drive while listening to it”? No. The bubble bath people did. Because that’s humorous and/or intriguing marketing copy. And boy, I bet their shower gel will really provide a relaxing moment in my otherwise hectic day!

    Best I can tell, there’s no basis to the claim that this is “the most relaxing tune ever”. It appears to be the most relaxing of the several tunes they tested. I mean, how else would you test these things out?

    Also, it would seem everyone posting this news “story” is unaware of this whole music genre (let’s call it “ambient”). It’s not really my thing, but there are certainly quite a number of artists or composers putting out songs like this — is this really the “most relaxing” of all songs in that genre?

    About the only thing that might make such a song stand out is the 60 bpm tempo. A lot of ambient music has no obvious tempo at all — and thus, no “entrainment” for physiological effects.

    Anyhow, I listened all the way through. It’s not like it’s hard to listen to. I wrote most of this comment while listening to it. Ambient music kind of suggests that it’s background music — music done while doing something besides actively listening to it. As a former college DJ, I’ve endured much more challenging fare.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I turned off the auto-play.

    Anyhow, I take issue with these statements from Veith:

    Music or any art form is not supposed to be relaxing! On the contrary, it’s supposed to seize and focus your attention!

    I disagree. If I had to come with a simple statement of what art should “do”, I’d say that it should engender thoughts or feelings that you wouldn’t have otherwise had. But relaxation is certainly a feeling.

    In fact, one of the more seminal ambient works, Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music for Airports (which, Wikipedia informs me, can actually be heard in LaGuardia) was created to be played in airports precisely because airports are often places of tension and anxiety. I’d even suggest that ambient music has became popular precisely because so many modern people feel tense and anxious in all sorts of situations, and they’re looking for an art form to impose some other feeling on their lives.

    There are many other art forms we arguably find relaxing — consider the pleasing architecture and design in a private garden. Or even the common placement of fish tanks in waiting rooms. Fairly mundane examples of art, of course, but that’s kind of the point.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I turned off the auto-play.

    Anyhow, I take issue with these statements from Veith:

    Music or any art form is not supposed to be relaxing! On the contrary, it’s supposed to seize and focus your attention!

    I disagree. If I had to come with a simple statement of what art should “do”, I’d say that it should engender thoughts or feelings that you wouldn’t have otherwise had. But relaxation is certainly a feeling.

    In fact, one of the more seminal ambient works, Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music for Airports (which, Wikipedia informs me, can actually be heard in LaGuardia) was created to be played in airports precisely because airports are often places of tension and anxiety. I’d even suggest that ambient music has became popular precisely because so many modern people feel tense and anxious in all sorts of situations, and they’re looking for an art form to impose some other feeling on their lives.

    There are many other art forms we arguably find relaxing — consider the pleasing architecture and design in a private garden. Or even the common placement of fish tanks in waiting rooms. Fairly mundane examples of art, of course, but that’s kind of the point.

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    A good, fierce discussion relaxes me much more.

  • Kyralessa

    I guess I’ll listen to it to see what all the fuss is about, but I have a horrible feeling that halfway through it’s going to become a Rick Astley tune.

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    A good, fierce discussion relaxes me much more.

  • Kyralessa

    I guess I’ll listen to it to see what all the fuss is about, but I have a horrible feeling that halfway through it’s going to become a Rick Astley tune.

  • SKPeterson

    Kyralessa ponders the existential angst of our age: Is Rick-rolling a musical art form that can sell bubble bath?

  • SKPeterson

    Kyralessa ponders the existential angst of our age: Is Rick-rolling a musical art form that can sell bubble bath?

  • Dan Kempin

    Seriously, though, is this art or science? Is this a “song,” or an aid to relaxation?

  • Dan Kempin

    Seriously, though, is this art or science? Is this a “song,” or an aid to relaxation?

  • Reg Schofield

    Hey I relax to Prog/Rock and heavy rock so I guess I’m a freak .

  • Reg Schofield

    Hey I relax to Prog/Rock and heavy rock so I guess I’m a freak .

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dan (@14), I’m pretty sure this is art. It was made by Marconi Union, a musical group that makes other songs in this vein.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dan (@14), I’m pretty sure this is art. It was made by Marconi Union, a musical group that makes other songs in this vein.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    I got through 14 seconds of it before going quickly to Iron Maiden to recuperate. Gah. Thank God it was only wasted seconds instead of “Wasted Years.”

    Gracious host, I think you should link an antidote. Gack.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    I got through 14 seconds of it before going quickly to Iron Maiden to recuperate. Gah. Thank God it was only wasted seconds instead of “Wasted Years.”

    Gracious host, I think you should link an antidote. Gack.

  • PStad

    I do like relaxing music (which, to me, is usually classical music), but found this to be more like “white noise” – not very musical at all.

  • PStad

    I do like relaxing music (which, to me, is usually classical music), but found this to be more like “white noise” – not very musical at all.

  • http://pseudepigraphic.blogspot.com Trent

    I found listening to the song after I was primed for it to “relax” me to be a little like watching a pot expectantly: as the proverbial pot does not boil, neither did I relax. I just felt weird. Far from relaxed, I felt like I was marinating in a dunk-tank of shampoo and LSD, waiting for aliens to probe me. What’s with the heartbeat? It sounds like something out of Bill Cosby’s bit about the chicken-heart that ate New York.

    Perhaps art ought rather to compose and order the senses, not deaden them. Good music moves the listener towards harmony, not a vegetative state; it refines and, again, orders, consciousness — it does not sedate it.

    I give this eight minute tone-blob an F. It’s ugly. Only our disjointed therapeutic culture would acclaim this as a good. My favorite part:

    The study – commissioned by bubble bath and shower gel firm Radox Spa – found the song was even more relaxing than a massage, walk or cup of tea.

    Oh, good. I’ve been looking for a replacement for those nuisances for quite some time now.

    Radox should market an amniotic sac to go with the MP3.

  • http://pseudepigraphic.blogspot.com Trent

    I found listening to the song after I was primed for it to “relax” me to be a little like watching a pot expectantly: as the proverbial pot does not boil, neither did I relax. I just felt weird. Far from relaxed, I felt like I was marinating in a dunk-tank of shampoo and LSD, waiting for aliens to probe me. What’s with the heartbeat? It sounds like something out of Bill Cosby’s bit about the chicken-heart that ate New York.

    Perhaps art ought rather to compose and order the senses, not deaden them. Good music moves the listener towards harmony, not a vegetative state; it refines and, again, orders, consciousness — it does not sedate it.

    I give this eight minute tone-blob an F. It’s ugly. Only our disjointed therapeutic culture would acclaim this as a good. My favorite part:

    The study – commissioned by bubble bath and shower gel firm Radox Spa – found the song was even more relaxing than a massage, walk or cup of tea.

    Oh, good. I’ve been looking for a replacement for those nuisances for quite some time now.

    Radox should market an amniotic sac to go with the MP3.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Sorry I’m so late in responding, despite my promise to explain what I mean about art focusing our attention. That the song started playing upon clicking “comments” made me not want to spend time doing that, not being able to STAND listening to that sonic DRECK.

    But let me explain: There are aesthetic constructions that are designed to be in the background. Wallpaper. Muzhak in the grocery store. White noise to help you sleep. But never tell an artist that you want to buy his painting because it matches the decor in your living room. Art as such wants your attention. In fact, some scholarship suggests that artistic form–from perspective in painting to rhyme schemes in poetry–works to orchestrate the audience’s attention and perception. A good book, we say, “keeps your attention,” engages your mind and your imagination. As opposed to the books that “put me to sleep.”

    I would say this is true even of art that we find “relaxing.” We relax to some light reading or to some pleasant music precisely because it gives us something to pay attention to, giving us a momentary escape from the preoccupations of the day and our racing minds. A story or a melody or a catchy lyric or an imaginative description can do that. But if there is nothing to focus on, the attention goes back to our interior stresses. Even Eastern mediation requires a mantra, something to concentrate on. But the relaxation that comes from reading a mystery novel or listening to Mozart or whatever is a secondary effect. A work like this one that is designed just to be relaxing, written to follow the rhythm of the human heartbeat with a bass line keyed to the brain’s alpha waves–or whatever they did–has no artistic substance. It is just another kind of white noise.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Sorry I’m so late in responding, despite my promise to explain what I mean about art focusing our attention. That the song started playing upon clicking “comments” made me not want to spend time doing that, not being able to STAND listening to that sonic DRECK.

    But let me explain: There are aesthetic constructions that are designed to be in the background. Wallpaper. Muzhak in the grocery store. White noise to help you sleep. But never tell an artist that you want to buy his painting because it matches the decor in your living room. Art as such wants your attention. In fact, some scholarship suggests that artistic form–from perspective in painting to rhyme schemes in poetry–works to orchestrate the audience’s attention and perception. A good book, we say, “keeps your attention,” engages your mind and your imagination. As opposed to the books that “put me to sleep.”

    I would say this is true even of art that we find “relaxing.” We relax to some light reading or to some pleasant music precisely because it gives us something to pay attention to, giving us a momentary escape from the preoccupations of the day and our racing minds. A story or a melody or a catchy lyric or an imaginative description can do that. But if there is nothing to focus on, the attention goes back to our interior stresses. Even Eastern mediation requires a mantra, something to concentrate on. But the relaxation that comes from reading a mystery novel or listening to Mozart or whatever is a secondary effect. A work like this one that is designed just to be relaxing, written to follow the rhythm of the human heartbeat with a bass line keyed to the brain’s alpha waves–or whatever they did–has no artistic substance. It is just another kind of white noise.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Several questions arise from your response, Dr. Veith (@20).

    You mention “aesthetic constructions that are designed to be in the background”. Are you using “aesthetic constructions” to distinguish them from art — that is, that anything “designed to be in the background” can’t be real art? Does that require that we know the creator’s intent in distinguishing between art and “aesthetic constructions”?

    Can we necessarily infer from how creations are typically (or often) used how their creators intended them to be received or used? The fact that this music suggests itself to me (and, likely, to others) as background music — does that tell us anything about what Marconi Union intended? Does the fact that classical music is so often heard as relaxing background music tell us anything about the intent of its composers? Or, to use your example, if I do buy a painting precisely because it fits into my living room so well, have I altered the meaning of that painting?

    I don’t think books are a terribly good comparison for music. Is it even possible to take in a book passively? That doesn’t make sense to me. I think a better example might be architecture, which can either serve completely as background, or, ideally, can reward hours of intense study.

    Anyhow, it’s possible to focus on this song in question. I don’t see that a lot of people here have tried, precisely because they don’t like it. But that’s a subjective argument. I could equally argue that any genre with which I’m not terribly familiar (thereby causing the age-old reaction of “it all sounds the same”) is more background-worthy. Say, the repetitive strains of bluegrass. (Or is that just picking a fight?)

    Some people find much modern art (or “aesthetic constructions”) very ignorable, with Marconi Union playing the sonic counterpart to, say, Jackson Pollock. But I don’t think that all modern art was intended to be background material, by a long shot.

    I guess I’m still not convinced by your definition of art.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Several questions arise from your response, Dr. Veith (@20).

    You mention “aesthetic constructions that are designed to be in the background”. Are you using “aesthetic constructions” to distinguish them from art — that is, that anything “designed to be in the background” can’t be real art? Does that require that we know the creator’s intent in distinguishing between art and “aesthetic constructions”?

    Can we necessarily infer from how creations are typically (or often) used how their creators intended them to be received or used? The fact that this music suggests itself to me (and, likely, to others) as background music — does that tell us anything about what Marconi Union intended? Does the fact that classical music is so often heard as relaxing background music tell us anything about the intent of its composers? Or, to use your example, if I do buy a painting precisely because it fits into my living room so well, have I altered the meaning of that painting?

    I don’t think books are a terribly good comparison for music. Is it even possible to take in a book passively? That doesn’t make sense to me. I think a better example might be architecture, which can either serve completely as background, or, ideally, can reward hours of intense study.

    Anyhow, it’s possible to focus on this song in question. I don’t see that a lot of people here have tried, precisely because they don’t like it. But that’s a subjective argument. I could equally argue that any genre with which I’m not terribly familiar (thereby causing the age-old reaction of “it all sounds the same”) is more background-worthy. Say, the repetitive strains of bluegrass. (Or is that just picking a fight?)

    Some people find much modern art (or “aesthetic constructions”) very ignorable, with Marconi Union playing the sonic counterpart to, say, Jackson Pollock. But I don’t think that all modern art was intended to be background material, by a long shot.

    I guess I’m still not convinced by your definition of art.

  • http://pseudepigraphic.blogspot.com Trent

    @Todd

    Alright. Convince us with your definition of art, please.

    It’s fun to be the incredulous po-mo in these instances, but I’d like to hear your positive definition of art, or description, at least, so we can way it against Dr. Veith’s.

  • http://pseudepigraphic.blogspot.com Trent

    @Todd

    Alright. Convince us with your definition of art, please.

    It’s fun to be the incredulous po-mo in these instances, but I’d like to hear your positive definition of art, or description, at least, so we can way it against Dr. Veith’s.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Trent (@22), I already did that (@10), more or less:

    If I had to come with a simple statement of what art should “do”, I’d say that it should engender thoughts or feelings that you wouldn’t have otherwise had.

    To that I would add that art involves the intent of creating art.

    I’m quite certain this definition is far too broad for some, but I do think it avoids the problem that Veith’s rules create — namely, that what appears to be an intentional work of art is ruled out as art merely for being ignorable or background music. Again, these rules would seem to, in the hands of many modern philistines, rule out all sorts of classical works otherwise regarded as art.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Trent (@22), I already did that (@10), more or less:

    If I had to come with a simple statement of what art should “do”, I’d say that it should engender thoughts or feelings that you wouldn’t have otherwise had.

    To that I would add that art involves the intent of creating art.

    I’m quite certain this definition is far too broad for some, but I do think it avoids the problem that Veith’s rules create — namely, that what appears to be an intentional work of art is ruled out as art merely for being ignorable or background music. Again, these rules would seem to, in the hands of many modern philistines, rule out all sorts of classical works otherwise regarded as art.

  • TheDuck

    I find this music very helpful. It reminds me of spa music but this track is much more helpful. I have a very stressful life. I go out and have fun but that doesn’t help me relax all the way. I also have trouble insomnia. I don’t find “Weightless” at all boring. It’s very peaceful, pleasant, and calming. I listen to many genres of music. I listen to some song to “get my blood pumping” and others to help calm me. It’s also helpful for daydreaming which I enjoy time to time. Any music use to help me back in the day but with age it seems to be only certain genres help me sleep. I’ve even used white noise time to time as well. I’m glad I finally found something that may help more.

  • TheDuck

    I find this music very helpful. It reminds me of spa music but this track is much more helpful. I have a very stressful life. I go out and have fun but that doesn’t help me relax all the way. I also have trouble insomnia. I don’t find “Weightless” at all boring. It’s very peaceful, pleasant, and calming. I listen to many genres of music. I listen to some song to “get my blood pumping” and others to help calm me. It’s also helpful for daydreaming which I enjoy time to time. Any music use to help me back in the day but with age it seems to be only certain genres help me sleep. I’ve even used white noise time to time as well. I’m glad I finally found something that may help more.


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