Scientists say this 191-year-old symphony could help your heart health.

I'm going to play you a song.

You probably know it. In fact, you probably know it extremely well.


That's the fourth movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, aka "Ode to Joy." Arguably the single most recognizable piece of music of all time.

(Sorry, "Too Much Time on My Hands," by Styx.)

Now I'm going to play you something else. Really listen closely this time.

That's the third movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. Part of the same piece of music. But there's a good chance you've never heard it before.

It's kind of a deep cut. Like the beginning of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Or the fourth verse of "The Star Spangled Banner," which we know exists, but don't actually know.

And turns out it's just a stream of anti-British obscenities. Image by Neutrality/Wikimedia Commons.

When it comes to Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, the fourth movement pretty much gets all the love, glory, and fame (not to mention all the sweeeeet electric guitar covers). Which is a shame.

Because the third movement might have magical healing powers.

Seriously.

According to a group of fancy Oxford University scientists, listening to the third movement of Beethoven's No. 9 might actually lower your blood pressure and help fight heart disease. In real life.

Music therapy has been a thing for a while. But British researchers just hit upon some of the first concrete evidence that it's actually, like, a thing.

According to Laura Donnelly at The Telegraph:

"Research presented to the the British Cardiovascular Society (BCS) conference in Manchester found that listening to music with a repeated 10-second rhythm coincided with a fall in blood pressure, reducing the heart rate.Such recordings include Va Pensiero by Italian composer Giusuppe Verdi, Nessun Dorma by Giacomo Puccini and Beethoven's 9th Symphony adagio[*]."

*They're talking about the third movement here. ("Adagio" is just a fancy Italian word that means, "Yo, Mikey! Play this part kinda slowly! ...

...and say "hi" to your sister for me.") Painting by George Agnew Reid/Wikimedia Commons.

What's more? There's evidence that the composers might have even done this intentionally.

"Professor Sleight explained some composers, including Verdi, seemed to have managed to mirror the natural rise and fall of blood pressure in the human body.' Verdi may well have been a physiologist,' he said, 'he hit on this ten-second rhythm in blood pressure and you can see it in his music.'" — Elizabeth Davis, Classic FM

That's right.

A bunch of 18th- and 19th-century composers — before the dawn of modern medicine — got together and basically said, "OK, guys. It's obvious that lots of our fellow Austrians and Italians and Prussians and whatever are super stressed out. Since a low-sodium diet won't be invented for another couple hundred years, let's help 'em out and write some calm-as-hell classical music that mimics the function of their circulatory system."

And that's kind of amazing.

OK, but what does this mean? You know, for us?

First, nothing's been proven. This is not, like, prescribable medicine (yet). But the study suggests that these effects aren't individual, but universal. If more evidence confirms these findings, it could mean that the same types of songs with similar rhythms (like Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, third movement) might work to lower blood pressure in all of us. That's pretty neat.

And even though nothing's been proven, why not spend some time listening to some dope classical music that's not only free but might be magic medicine?

There is literally zero downside and possible tremendous upside to chilling out with this magnificent Verdi tune:

And this Beethoven one (you know the one):

And this sweet Puccini track:

Interestingly, the same study found that listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers actually increased subjects' heart rates pretty much across the board.

"Bjzzeijf Californburggg Tnksahruuuunnnnfffff Giveitawaynnaaabbbusfdna." Image by Carlos Delgado/Wikimedia Commons.

Which doesn't mean that listening to RHCP would necessarily immediately cause a massive heart attack of course, but uh ... you can't totally rule it out now, can you?

But I digress.

The most important takeaway of all?

If you're pushing the fourth movement of Beethoven's No. 9, even Beethoven knows you're basic.


Portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler.

Beethoven's No. 9, third movement: Good for the heart. Better for the soul.

Heroes
Twitter / The Hollywood Reporter

Actress Michelle Williams earned a standing ovation for her acceptance speech at the 2019 Emmy Awards, both in the Microsoft Theater in L.A. and among viewers online.

As she accepted her first Emmy award for Lead Actress in a Limited Series/Movie for her role in FX's "Fosse/Verdon," she praised the studios who produced the show for supporting her in everything she needed for the role—including making sure she was paid equitably.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
'Good Morning America'

Over 35 million people have donated their marrow worldwide, according to the World Marrow Donor Day, which took place September 21. That's 35,295,060 who've selflessly given a part of themselves so another person can have a shot at life. World Marrow Donor Day celebrates and thanks those millions of people who have donated cells for blood stem cells or marrow transplants. But how do you really say thank you to someone who saved your life?

Eighteen-year-old Jack Santos wasn't aware that he was sick."I was getting a lot of nosebleeds but I didn't really think I felt anything wrong," Jack told ABC news. During his yearly checkup, his bloodwork revealed that he had aplastic anemia, a rare non-cancerous blood disease in which there are not enough stem cells in the bone marrow for it to make new blood cells. There are 300 to 900 new cases of aplastic anemia in America each year. It is believed that aplastic anemia is an auto-immune disorder, but in 75% of cases, the cause of the disease is unknown.

It wasn't easy for his family to see him struggle with the illness. "I didn't want to see him go through something like this," Shelby, his older sister, said. "It was terrifying, but we were ready for whatever brought with it at the time."

Keep Reading Show less
Family

Someday, future Americans will look back on this era of school shootings in bafflement and disbelief—not only over the fact that it happened, but over how long it took us to enact significant legislation to try to stop it.

Five people die from vaping, and the government talks about banning vaping devices. Hundreds of American children have been shot to death in their classrooms, sometimes a dozen or so at a time, and the government has done practically nothing. It's unconscionable.

Keep Reading Show less
Education & Information

After over a hundred days protests and demonstrations over basic freedoms in Hong Kong, the city has been ground down both emotionally and economically. So, the government there is looking for leading PR firms to rehabilitate its somewhat authoritarian image with the rest of the world. Only one problem, they're all saying no.

Keep Reading Show less
Democracy