Singing Together Synchronizes Heartbeats

September 2, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. synchronize [SING-kruh-nahyz]  (v.) – to move or to happen at exactly the same time
Example: The singer and her back-up performers synchronized in the song’s chorus.
2. coordination [koh-awr-dn-EY-shuh n] (n.) – the act of working well together
Example: The concert producer maintains contact with the staff to assure coordination.

3. counterpoint [KOUN-ter-point] (n.) – (in music) the combination of two different melodies in harmony
Example: The piano and the violin are played in counterpoint.

4. chant [chant, chahnt] (v.) – to say or sing words or phrases many times using a rhythm
Example: The audience chanted and cheered as the school choir went up the stage.

5. mantra [MAN-truhMAHN-, MUHN-] (n.) – a phrase or word that is repeated, often reflects someone’s beliefs
Example: The aspiring singer made “I will be a famous singer” his mantra to boost his confidence.


Read the text below.

A recent study by Swedish researchers has revealed that the singers’ heartbeats synchronize as they sing at the same time.

Neuroscientist Bjorn Vickhoff, a former singer-songwriter, led the project. The researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden measured and monitored the pulse rates of choir members as they sang different songs all at once.

The group found that the heart rate and the singers' breath sped up and slowed down in coordination. This result meant that the speed of the heartbeats also change in unison as the singers sing together.

Vickhoff also said that the choir members’ heart rates go down as they sing a phrase. However, when they inhale in between phrases, their heart rates rise.

According to Vickhoff, the heartbeats are not the only thing synchronizing when people sing together. Every time the choir members synchronize the melody, text, and rhythm in a song, a counterpoint internally happens in the body.

A previous research also found that the vagus nerve, a cranial nerve associated with heart rate and breathing, synchronizes when singing. The singers’ mood, which is affected by the calming effect of regulated breathing, may also harmonize. Thus, singing together is collaborative not only on the physical level but on an emotional level as well.

These results may be the reasons why most religions perform acts of worship that involve synchronized breathings through chanting mantras, singing, and doing group prayers. These ritual actions may thus help bring people closer both in mind and in body.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think having a synchronized heartbeat may help the choir sing and perform better? Please explain your answer.
·         In your opinion, can synchronicity promote team spirit among singers or musicians? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Do you think that singing in unison can really bring a group closer? Why or why not?
·         Do you think being emotionally connected to a song can help a person deliver good music? Why or why not?


September 2, 2013