Date of Award

12-2015

Degree Name

Master of Music

Department

Music

First Advisor

Edward A. Roth

Second Advisor

Dr. John S. Spitsbergen

Third Advisor

Dr. Lisa Baker

Fourth Advisor

Dr. David S. Smith

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the neurochemical correlates of group vocal improvisation and to determine the feasibility of the research methods. One group of four participants sang together in two conditions: pre-composed and improvised. Concentrations of plasma oxytocin and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) were measured before and after each singing condition to assess levels of hormones associated with social affiliation, engagement and arousal. Successful implementation of the methodology, including recruitment, data collection, and sample analysis, served as the primary outcome of this study. ACTH concentrations decreased in both conditions, and significantly so in the pre-composed singing condition. Mean plasma oxytocin levels increased only in response to improvised singing, with no significant difference between improvised and pre-composed singing conditions. The results suggest that group singing may reduce stress and arousal, as measured by ACTH. Due to the small sample size, the effects of group singing on oxytocin are less clear. Social affiliation may be better facilitated in improvisatory experiences than pre-composed group singing, as measured by plasma oxytocin.

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