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Peter Hübner
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  Medical Music
Music & Health· The natural Responsibility of the Classical Composer      page 1 2 3 4
JOURNALIST: Although you have nowadays absolutely devoted yourself to harmonious music, you show a lot of tolerance towards dissonant music, and you explain the acceptance of disharmonious music not as a musical but purely medical problem.
But this raises questions concerning musical education. How do you see the roles of harmonious and disharmonious music in music education – in school, in the media, at home?

PETER HUEBNER: School is primarily a place for education, and one aspect of education is the passing on of information, a different aspect is the internalisation of knowledge, of structures and functions.

Let’s have a look at the aspect of information first. Without doubt, it is of equal interest to inform the people about aspects of harmony as well as disharmony, and to find out what harmony is, what disharmony is, what are the differences, and in what way are harmony and disharmony linked to each other.

Even if harmony is beneficial to health, and disharmony is harmful, there are good reasons to pass on information on these two aspects, on the structural conditions as well as on benefits and damage. This also applies to nicotine. Here, the interesting question is also: what is the structural effect, and in how far is it beneficial or harmful.

Whether such considerations now mean that everybody has to smoke himself, is a totally different question. Scientific experiments are nowadays only carried out with limited groups whose member’s health is examined prior to these experiments, and then get paid to take part on a voluntary basis in favour of the scientific findings. In particularly dangerous cases, doctors fall back on animal experiments.
But the only concern is always to verify the benefit or damage to the individual’s or the community’s health.

Under certain preconditions of objectivity which are determined by the scientists, the results of the examinations are accepted by those not concerned – in the case of nicotine, the non-smoker, too, will accept the results of the examinations which were achieved with the smokers during research.

In the case of nicotine, it was established that it can cause general damage to health – this applies to active and passive smoking, and especially to children and juveniles.
Smoking was in fact not prohibited on principle, but society in general is increasingly watching out that children and juveniles do not smoke, and that in public places and particularly in schools and Kindergardens people do not smoke at all or at least not a lot.

Today, the social significance of smoking is therefore no longer only a question of culture and personal taste – as in the times of Wilhelm Busch –, but on the basis of modern medical methods of examination and objective results of examinations also primarily a question of society’s medical fundamental attitude.

JOURNALIST: And the same can be applied to music?

PETER HUEBNER: I think so. In times when cigarettes are not strictly prohibited, it surely doesn’t make sense to prohibit music which is harmful to health.

The people responsible, however, should consider in how far children and juveniles should be allowed to consume such music, or whether it should be allowed to play in public places – at least when children and juveniles are present in such places.

And that also raises the question in how far music which can be harmful to health should be used in the educational system, for during the performance of music, the listener takes on the role of a test person, as the aspect of internalisation comes into force.

So this may possibly cause damage to the consumer – at least there where his immune system has already been weakened – which e.g. reveals itself in hyper-activity, in allergies and susceptibility to addiction, in poor powers of concentration, aggression and feelings of anxiety.

A school class which is not touched by all these problems, will surely hardly be at risk if they consume a crate of beer and listen to music which can be harmful to their health.

But in a time and society where the mentioned problems are the order of the day among young people and teachers, the consumption of music which might be harmful to health carries completely new unpredictable danger areas.

Of course, the influences accumulate. In combination with drugs, for instance, music which may be harmful to health, can have a much more harmful effect. If you want to avoid any sort of risk, then you avoid anything that may harm young people’s health. This is not an artistic or philosophical question, but a purely medical one.
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  With kind permission of AAR EDITION INTERNATIONAL