Monday, July 6, 2009

Song, memory, and DON'T be still, my beating heart

One of our staff members emailed this article from CNN:

"Disco Tune Saves Man's Life"

A couple are out hiking, the man suddenly drops to the ground without a heartbeat, and his wife recalls hearing an American Heart Association public service announcement about giving chest compressions to the beat of the Bee Gees song, "Stayin' Alive." She does, and her husband lives.

What's special about the song? Just the fact that it's sung at about 100 beats per minute, which happens to be just how frequently you want to apply your chest compressions. The article quotes another doctor who states that Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" works just as well, but for some reason the AHA preferred the other title.

The magic here, of course, is that incredible power that music has to be memorable. Anyone who knows the Bee Gees song will readily remember the correct tempo. Songs are so memorable that most people would probably notice if the same band sang it in a different key, even if they couldn't quite place what was different. Lesson for today - if you need to remember something, set it to music.


Cranberry Necklace said...

To remember the 6 repeating digits in fractions where the denominator is 7, I used the musical intervals. It's not very tuneful, but the intervals, hence, the digits, are still in my head: 142857.

Scott Hanley said...

You mean you sing the intervals to yourself? That's definitely a strange tune, especially ending on 7.