What is the Producer talk about music

Ten years ago, producer, songwriter and now label head RedOne (Nadir Al-Khayat) found himself relegated to a blowup mattress in a one-bedroom apartment. His circumstances have changed markedly—from cramped quarters to creating hits in his eight-room Los Angeles studio. Commensurate with his fortunes, his credits have shot to the top of an enviable cross-section of charts and he’s worked with artists including Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga and U2. Such a transformation demanded equal measures of dedication, hard work and hope.

Born in Morocco, RedOne took his first steps into the music business as a teenaged guitarist and singer, following a relocation to Sweden. He was inspired to begin writing songs after he heard Europe’s “The Final Countdown” at the age of 16. In 2007 he emigrated to New Jersey. Despite his sharpened focus, things didn’t go well initially and he ached to return to Scandinavia. But his wife persuaded him to continue the fight for a further three months. The choice to stay proved pivotal and ultimately he was tapped to produce Kat DeLuna’s “Whine Up,” which landed at the top of Billboard’s U.S. Dance Club Songs chart.

Though he faced hardships in his early years and it’s easy to lose sight of career objectives, he found a way through them. “I didn’t know anybody,” RedOne recalls. “I couldn’t get by. But I concentrated on success and kept believing. The struggle gave me energy to keep getting better. I loved music and I dreamed big.”

His hard work and dedication paid off in perspective and wisdom. “You learn to be patient,” the producer says of writing and breaking a song. “I have a better understanding now of what it takes to craft a hit. You have to have a great song, a great artist that can take it all the way and you need a partner—indie or major—that has the patience to grow and develop it. If you’re an Ariana Grande with millions of followers, you still need a good team to make it happen. It’s hard work and a struggle for everybody. For example, [the Lady Gaga song] ‘Just Dance’ took a year to happen. A lot of people didn’t believe in it because it was so different. If we didn’t have a team to keep pushing, it never would have hit.”

In 2014 RedOne Records was launched. Distributed by Capitol Music Group, RedOne finds that running a label comes with unanticipated complications. “Understanding the business side was a challenge because it was the first time I was doing it,” he recalls. “The projects I’d had success with were through the major label machine. But it’s difficult when you do it on your own; it isn’t as easy as it sounds. To be independent, you have to work three times as hard because you don’t have the structure [of a major]. You have to figure out everything from scratch. Sometimes you don’t have the support of your partner label because they already have stars in line. But it is fun. The passion is still there.”

RedOne’s L.A. studio was launched about a year ago and is his primary creative space. There he works with established artists and continues to develop emerging talent. His schedule is more packed than ever as he labors on several solo singles. “Don’t You Need Somebody,” for example, dropped earlier this year and has earned more than 11 million YouTube views. He’s also in the studio with Republic Records’ artist Roya while he continues to work with Lady Gaga and Enrique Iglesias. Lastly, he’s producing for rising Warner Bros. jazz trumpeter Spencer Ludwig and singer Noah Cyrus, younger sister of Miley Cyrus.

Success on your life with music

CONDOLEEZZA RICE trained to be a concert pianist. Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, was a professional clarinet and saxophone player. The hedge fund billionaire Bruce Kovner is a pianist who took classes at Juilliard.

Multiple studies link music study to academic achievement. But what is it about serious music training that seems to correlate with outsize success in other fields?

The connection isn’t a coincidence. I know because I asked. I put the question to top-flight professionals in industries from tech to finance to media, all of whom had serious (if often little-known) past lives as musicians. Almost all made a connection between their music training and their professional achievements.

The phenomenon extends beyond the math-music association. Strikingly, many high achievers told me music opened up the pathways to creative thinking. And their experiences suggest that music training sharpens other qualities: Collaboration. The ability to listen. A way of thinking that weaves together disparate ideas. The power to focus on the present and the future simultaneously.

Will your school music program turn your kid into a Paul Allen, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft (guitar)? Or a Woody Allen (clarinet)? Probably not. These are singular achievers. But the way these and other visionaries I spoke to process music is intriguing. As is the way many of them apply music’s lessons of focus and discipline into new ways of thinking and communicating — even problem solving.

Look carefully and you’ll find musicians at the top of almost any industry. Woody Allen performs weekly with a jazz band. The television broadcaster Paula Zahn (cello) and the NBC chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd (French horn) attended college on music scholarships; NBC’s Andrea Mitchell trained to become a professional violinist. Both Microsoft’s Mr. Allen and the venture capitalist Roger McNamee have rock bands. Larry Page, a co-founder of Google, played saxophone in high school. Steven Spielberg is a clarinetist and son of a pianist. The former World Bank president James D. Wolfensohn has played cello at Carnegie Hall.

“It’s not a coincidence,” says Mr. Greenspan, who gave up jazz clarinet but still dabbles at the baby grand in his living room. “I can tell you as a statistician, the probability that that is mere chance is extremely small.” The cautious former Fed chief adds, “That’s all that you can judge about the facts. The crucial question is: why does that connection exist?”

Paul Allen offers an answer. He says music “reinforces your confidence in the ability to create.” Mr. Allen began playing the violin at age 7 and switched to the guitar as a teenager. Even in the early days of Microsoft, he would pick up his guitar at the end of marathon days of programming. The music was the emotional analog to his day job, with each channeling a different type of creative impulse. In both, he says, “something is pushing you to look beyond what currently exists and express yourself in a new way.”

Mr. Todd says there is a connection between years of practice and competition and what he calls the “drive for perfection.” The veteran advertising executive Steve Hayden credits his background as a cellist for his most famous work, the Apple “1984” commercial depicting rebellion against a dictator. “I was thinking of Stravinsky when I came up with that idea,” he says. He adds that his cello performance background helps him work collaboratively: “Ensemble playing trains you, quite literally, to play well with others, to know when to solo and when to follow.”

For many of the high achievers I spoke with, music functions as a “hidden language,” as Mr. Wolfensohn calls it, one that enhances the ability to connect disparate or even contradictory ideas. When he ran the World Bank, Mr. Wolfensohn traveled to more than 100 countries, often taking in local performances (and occasionally joining in on a borrowed cello), which helped him understand “the culture of people, as distinct from their balance sheet.”

Music is most interesting on life

It’s the weekend and at some point you’ll probably relax to your favourite music, watch a film with a catchy title track – or hit the dance floor.

There’s no doubt that listening to your favourite music can instantly put you in a good mood. But scientists are now discovering that music can do more for you than just lift your spirits.

Research is showing it has a variety of health benefits.

Fresh research from Austria has found that listening to music can help patients with chronic back pain.

And a recent survey by Mind – the mental health charity – found that after counselling, patients found group therapy such as art and music therapy, the most useful.

Here, we present six proven ways that music can help you and your family’s health

1. CHRONIC BACK PAIN

How it helps: Music works on the autonomic nervous system – the part of the nervous system responsible for controlling our blood pressure, heartbeat and brain function – and also the limbic system – the part of the brain that controls feelings and emotions. According to one piece of research, both these systems react sensitively to music.

When slow rhythms are played, our blood pressure and heartbeat slow down which helps us breathe more slowly, thus reducing muscle tension in our neck, shoulders, stomach and back. And experts say that apart from physical tension, music also reduces psychological tension in our mind.

In other words when we feel pain, we become frightened, frustrated and angry which makes us tense up hundreds of muscles in our back. Listening to music on a regular basis helps our bodies relax physically and mentally, thus helping to relieve – and prevent – back pain.

The research: A new study from Austria’s General Hospital of Salzburg due to be published in The Vienna Medical Weekly Journal could hold the key to back pain. In the study, 65 patients aged between 21 and 68 with chronic back pain after back surgery were divided into two groups.

One group received standard medical care and physiotherapy. The other group also listened to music and received visualisation classes for 25 minutes every day for three weeks. Results found that the group who listened to music and used imagery experienced better pain relief than the group who did not.

Clinical psychologist Franz Wendtner who led the study says: ‘Music is an important part of our physical and emotional wellbeing – ever since we were babies in our mother’s womb listening to her heartbeat and breathing rhythms.

‘Listening to music for about 25 minutes everyday for at least ten days can help prevent back pain and also make you sleep better.’

Which type of music is best? Experts believe any type of classical music such as Mozart or Beethoven can help relieve muscle pain. Calm, slow music is also thought to help.

2. IMPROVES YOUR WORKOUT

How it helps: Experts say listening to music during exercise can give you a better workout in several ways. Scientists claim it can increase your endurance, boost your mood and can distract you from any discomfort experienced during your workout.

The research: Dr Robert Herdegen of America’s Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked at the effects of 12 men riding a bicycle for ten minutes while listening to music on one day. He compared it to the same men riding bicycles without music for ten minutes the following day.

On the days that the men exercised listening to music, they travelled 11 per cent further – compared to the days they didn’t listen to music. Researchers also found that the men’s levels of exertion were at their lowest when listening to music.

Other studies show that listening to music releases endorphins – our natural ‘feel good’ hormones that lift our mood and give us motivation to carry on longer with exercise.

Which type of music is best? The best type of music for exercise is thought to be high energy, high tempo music such as hip hop or dance music.

3. MEMORY LOSS

How it helps: For many people suffering from memory loss the spoken language has become meaningless. Music can help patients remember tunes or songs and get in touch with their history. This is because the part of the brain which processes music is located next to memory.

The research: Researchers from Norway’s Sogn Og Fjordane College compared the effects of live, taped and no music on three different groups of people suffering from post traumatic amnesia – or memory loss.

The patients were exposed to all three conditions, twice over six consecutive days. Results showed that when patients listened to live or taped music, two thirds of them showed significantly reduced symptoms of anxiety and enhanced orientation, compared to the group that didn’t listen to music.

Which type of music is best? Research shows that people with memory loss respond best to music of their choice.

Power of music that you listen

unduhan-45We can all think of at least one song that, when we hear it, triggers an emotional response. It might be a song that accompanied the first dance at your wedding, for example, or a song that reminds you of a difficult break-up or the loss of a loved one.

“We have a such a deep connection to music because it is ‘hardwired’ in our brains and bodies,” Barbara Else, senior advisor of policy and research at the American Music Therapy Associationtold Medical News Today. “The elements of music – rhythm, melody, etc. – are echoed in our physiology, functioning and being.”

Given the deep connection we have with music, it is perhaps unsurprising that numerous studies have shown it can benefit ourmental health. A 2011 study by researchers from McGill University in Canada found that listening to music increases the amount of dopamine produced in the brain – a mood-enhancing chemical, making it a feasible treatment for depression.

And earlier this year, MNT reported on a study published in The Lancet Psychiatry that suggested listening to hip-hop music – particularly that from Kendrick Lamar – may help individuals to understand mental health disorders.

But increasingly, researchers are finding that the health benefits of music may go beyond mental health, and as a result, some health experts are calling for music therapy to be more widely incorporated into health care settings.

In this Spotlight, we take a closer look at some of the potential health benefits of music and look at whether, for some conditions, music could be used to improve – or even replace – current treatment strategies.

Reducing pain and anxiety

Bob Marley once sang: “One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain.” According to some studies, this statement may ring true.

Earlier this year, MNT reported on a study led by Brunel University in the UK that suggested music may reduce pain and anxiety for patients who have undergone surgery.

By analyzing 72 randomized controlled trials involving more than 7,000 patients who received surgery, researchers found those who were played music after their procedure reported feeling less pain and anxiety than those who did not listen to music, and they were also less likely to need pain medication.

This effect was even stronger for patients who got to choose the music they listened to. Talking to MNT, study leader Dr. Catharine Meads said:

“If music was a drug, it would be marketable. […] Music is a noninvasive, safe, cheap intervention that should be available to everyone undergoing surgery.”

This study is just one of many hailing music for its effects against pain. In March 2014, researchers from Denmark found music may be beneficial for patients with fibromyalgia – a disorder that causes muscle and joint pain and fatigue.

Listening to calm, relaxing, self-chosen music “reduced pain and increased functional mobility significantly” among 22 patients with fibromyalgia, according to the investigators.

But why does music appear to ease pain? While the exact mechanisms remain unclear, many researchers believe one reason is because listening to music triggers the release of opioids in the brain, the body’s natural pain relievers.

Dr. Daniel Levitin, of McGill University in Canada, and colleagues talk about this theory in a 2013 review, citing research that found people experienced less pleasure from listening to their favorite song when given Naltrexone – a drug that blocks opioid signals – suggesting music induces the release of opioids to ease pain.

An effective stress reliever

When feeling stressed, you may find listening to your favorite music makes you feel better – and there are numerous studies that support this effect.

A study reported by MNT last month, for example, found that infants remained calmer for longer when they were played music rather than spoken to – even when speech involved baby talk.

The study researchers, including Prof. Isabelle Peretz of the Center for Research on Brain, Music and Language at the University of Montreal in Canada, suggested the repetitive pattern of the music the infants listened to reduced distress, possibly by promoting “entrainment” – the ability of the body’s internal rhythms to synchronize with external rhythms, pulses or beats.

Another study conducted in 2013 found that not only did listening to music help reduce pain and anxiety for children at the UK’s Great Ormond Street Hospital, it helped reduce stress – independent of social factors.

According to some researchers, music may help alleviate stress by lowering the body’s cortisol levels – the hormone released in response to stress.

The review by Dr. Levitin and colleagues, however, suggests this stress-relieving effect is dependent on what type of music one listens to, with relaxing music found most likely to lower cortisol levels.

Another mechanism by which music may alleviate stress is the effect it has on brainstem-mediated measures, according to Dr. Levitin and colleagues, such as pulse, heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature; again, the effect is dependent on the type of music listened to.

“Stimulating music produces increases in cardiovascular measures, whereas relaxing music produces decreases,” they explain. “[…] These effects are largely mediated by tempo: slow music and musical pauses are associated with a decrease in heart rate, respiration and blood pressure, and faster music with increases in these parameters.”

Music’s effect on heart rate and its potential as a stress reliever has led a number of researchers to believe music may also be effective for treating heart conditions.

Music is good your health

Rande Davis Gedaliah’s 2003 diagnosis of Parkinson’s was followed by leg spasms, balance problems, difficulty walking, and ultimately a serious fall in the shower. But something remarkable happened when the 60-year-old public speaking coach turned to an oldies station on her shower radio: She could move her leg with ease, her balance improved, and, she couldn’t stop dancing. Now, she puts on her iPod and pumps in Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” when she wants to walk quickly; for a slower pace, Queen’s “We Are the Champions” does the trick.

Music therapy has been practiced for decades as a way to treat neurological conditions from Parkinson’s to Alzheimer’s to anxiety and depression. Now, advances in neuroscience and brain imaging are revealing what’s actually happening in the brain as patients listen to music or play instruments and why the therapy works. “It’s been substantiated only in the last year or two that music therapy can help restore the loss of expressive language in patients with aphasia” following brain injury from stroke, says Oliver Sacks, the noted neurologist and professor at Columbia University, who explored the link between music and the brain in his recent book Musicophilia. Beyond improving movement and speech, he says, music can trigger the release of mood-altering brain chemicals and once-lost memories and emotions.

Parkinson’s and stroke patients benefit, neurologists believe, because the human brain is innately attuned to respond to highly rhythmic music; in fact, says Sacks, our nervous system is unique among mammals in its automatic tendency to go into foot-tapping mode. In Parkinson’s patients with bradykinesia, or difficulty initiating movement, it’s thought that the music triggers networks of neurons to translate the cadence into organized movement. “We see patients develop something like an auditory timing mechanism,” says Concetta Tomaino, cofounder of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function in New York City. “Someone who is frozen can immediately release and begin walking. Or if they have balance problems, they can coordinate their steps to synchronize with the music,” improving their gait and stride. Slow rhythms can ease the muscle bursts and jerky motions of Parkinson’s patients with involuntary tremors.

Actually playing music, which requires coordinating muscle movements and developing an ear for timing, can also bring dramatic results, says Rick Bausman, a musician and the founder and director of the Martha’s Vineyard-based Drum Workshop. The workshop uses traditional drum ensembles, in which groups of participants play percussion pieces, as one form of therapy for patients with a variety of cognitive and physical disabilities, including Parkinson’s disease. Bausman teaches participants to play along with traditional Afro-Caribbean beats like the Haitian kongo and Cuban bembe using congas, bongos, and djun-djun drums. “Participants report that their control of physical movement improves after playing the drums, their motion becomes more fluid, they don’t shake quite as much, and their tremors seem to calm down,” says Bausman.

Indeed, research on the effects of music therapy in Parkinson’s patients has found motor control to be better in those who participated in group music sessions—improvisation with pianos, drums, cymbals, and xylophones—than in people who underwent traditional physical therapy. But gains were no longer evident two months after the sessions ended, so the best results require continued therapy. To stay motivated, Tomaino recommends seeking out both therapeutic drumming groups like Bausman’s and social dance classes. Patients can also create music libraries for CDs or MP3 players that can be used to facilitate walking.

Because the area of the brain that processes music overlaps with speech networks, neurologists have found that a technique called melodic intonation therapy is effective at retraining patients to speak by transferring existing neuronal pathways or creating new ones. “Even after a stroke that damages the left side of the brain—the center of speech—some patients can still sing complete lyrics to songs,” says Tomaino. With repetition, the therapist can begin removing the music, allowing the patient to speak the song lyrics and eventually substitute regular phrases in their place. “As they try to recall words that have a similar contextual meaning to the lyrics, their word retrieval and speech improves,” she says.

The technique appears to activate areas on the right side of the brain, suggesting that these areas pick up the slack for the damaged left side, according to Gottfried Schlaug, a Harvard neurologist whose ongoing research uses functional MRI scans to study language recovery in stroke patients. “It’s startling to see these images,” says Sacks, “one would not expect to see such plasticity in the human adult brain.”

Trevor Gibbons, 51, can vouch for the brain’s flexibility. A patient at Beth Abraham Rehabilitation Center in the Bronx, where Tomaino heads the music therapy program and where Sacks first began treating chronically ill patients decades ago, Gibbons has been able to restore his speech after suffering a devastating spinal injury from a four-story fall and a stroke in 2000. The former carpenter says that before he began vocal training and playing piano with music therapists at the clinic, he couldn’t speak or move and would lie for days in bed, depressed. Following intensive sessions three times a week over several years, Gibbons not only recovered his speech but also has written more than 400 songs, recorded three CDs, and performed at a benefit fundraiser for Beth Abraham at Lincoln Center. (Pre-stroke, says Gibbons, he sang only in his church choir.) His depression has improved, too. “It gave me motivation and a chance to look forward to live another day,” he says.