Contagious Classical Music




Contagious Coughing Avalanches At Classical Concerts


What is Classical Music?

Classical music is art music, rooted in the tradition of Western music, including both liturgical and secular music. More specifically, it refers to an era commonly called the classical period (AD1750 – 1820) – Wikipedia

But is Classical Music Contagious?

According to Webster’s dictionary – one definition of Contagious is “exciting similar emotions or conduct in others.”


Contagious clapping at chamber concerts

 Contagious Clapping At  Chamber Concerts
A new study by Swedish Researchers in the Journal Of Royal Society suggests that there is social pressure both to start and stop clapping at concerts. “You have this social pressure to start clapping, but, once started, there is equal pressure not to stop until someone initiates that stopping.” Moreover, the study suggests that applause has little to do with the quality of performance. Once one or two members begin or stop clapping, others follow suit.

Conventions surrounding applause vary from country to country.

In Bergen, Norway, the audience will erupt into an extended rhythmic applause if they like the orchestra, but will not cheer or scream.

Meanwhile in America, standing ovations are the normal way of showing appreciation and they are instant, usually accompanied by a lot of vocals.

However, in Germany, there is an abrupt silence after the final note and before the applause. However, after the aura of silence which lasts for about 5-seconds, the applause continues ad infinitum.

The question is then, “what effect does it have on you?

Contagious Coughing Avalanches 

Classical audiences cough on purpose to a chamber performance – according to *Professor Andres Wagoner, from the University Of Hannover. According to the study, coughing spells are intentional and particularly prevalent among classical audiences. The research found that the average concertgoer coughs more 36 times a day, more than twice the norm.
However, maintains the professor, although the volume of the coughing fluctuates, it is more disruptive during the quieter, boring moments rather than the more interesting parts.

Contagious Cascading Coughing Avalanches

Moreover, the professor refers coughs in concerts as mysteriously contagious and likens them to coughing avalanches, cascading through the audiences.


          Chamber Orchestra In Concert

The story is told in The Telegraph about an enthusiastic Classical music lover and Royal Society Of Arts Fellow.

This fellow was so overly excited by the performance of “Hallelujah Chorus” he attempted to crowd-surf, his hand raised and whooping while lurching from side to side.
However, his enthusiasm was not contagious. Rather than “exciting similar emotion or conduct in others,” the audience became so distracted that they proceeded to physically eject him from the theatre.

Positive Effects 

The amazing benefits of classical music upon humans are well documented.  Among others – memory improvement, sleep inducement and even lowering blood pressure are just a few.  In fact, click here for my prior posts for research showing how classical music calms cats and canines, and positively impacts plant growth.



But back to the original question – is classical music contagious?

The answer to that question lies in what it does for you.

For me, it certainly excites the emotions – whether it’s clapping of hands or just a shaking of the head to the beat.

Suddenly, all is well with the world – no matter what’s going on. In short, it’s my mood changer – from sullen to satisfied.

And when I’m in a good mood – everybody knows including pets and plants, cats and canines.


What do you think?

I trust this article has helped you in some way. I love to hear from my readers.

Any questions, comments, or suggestions will be greatly appreciated.



Sources: Classic, BBC Music Official Website /June 2013

*Limelight, Australia’s Classical Musical and Arts Magazine

The Telegraph – 30 June/2014.




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