I am a firm believer in keeping my brain in shape. I earn my living from being mentally agile and creating and coding algorithms. I am a huge proponent of machine learning, artificial intelligence and big data analytics. My most valuable asset is my brain. So I must keep it in shape. I relax it in two ways: music and meditation.
One of the ways of keeping it in shape, is not only exercising, but also resting it. Scientist have proven that resting the brain through meditation reaps huge gains in health. Quoting an article in Bloomberg Business: "John Denninger, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, is leading a five-year study on how the ancient practices affect genes and brain activity in the chronically stressed. His latest work follows a study he and others published earlier this year showing how so-called mind-body techniques can switch on and off some genes linked to stress and immune function." http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-11-22/harvard-yoga-scientists-find-proof-of-meditation-benefit
I myself have taken up meditation, and the guy teaching it, is the son of a prominent judge who, in the 1970's took off to India for over 25 years to learn what there is to know about meditation. He lives in a local town nearby, and whenever he feels like it, he posts in the local online paper and whoever is interest shows up at his cottage in the country. The rec room is converted into a meditation chamber that can accommodate 20 - 30 people. The "guru" whose opening statement is "I am not a teacher or a guru", sits in front and plays a song, talks a bit, and then we sit and meditate -- or do nothing as he calls it. The interesting thing about the whole experience is two-fold. The first is how refreshed you come out of the session, and the second thing is the eclectic mix of people that show up.
The crowd consists of engineers, farmers, teachers, professional dancers, retired folk, old hippies, equestrian teachers, musicians, storekeepers and all sorts of folk. After the meditation or the sitting and doing nothing, we gather upstairs for chat, mint tea, vegan snacks, cookies, fruit, cheese and crackers, dehydrated biologica or whatever the motley crew brings to snack on. Again, the snacks are interesting, but more so is the conversation.
I met a guy who went to England to become the finest cabinet maker that he could possibly be. Not only did he become a craftsman, but he studied under several teachers, both philosophical and pedagogical trying to become the most enlightened person that he could possibly be.
This gentleman told me that there was a secret list of the most beautiful and beneficial music in the world, that was circulated among the cognoscenti. When I asked why it was secret, he explained that it wasn't really secret in the sense of being a secret, but rather the list was not widely promulgated. To the uninitiated, they called the music "dentist music", "elevator music" or "Muzak". It was much more than that to them.
There are studies of music that makes you dumb, or perhaps more accurately, music that lesser intelligent people listen to. There has been a data science study, and you can find the infographic and further links here: http://www.datasciencecentral.com/profiles/blogs/musical-taste-correlates-with-sat-scores . The bottom line, is that classical music makes you smart. This was news to me, because when I was into drudge programming -- coding not very interesting stuff with thousands of lines of "household" functions code, I usually put on some metal music like Metallica or Guns N' Roses. However I have since been a convert to listening to classical music while programming.
It has also been proven that there is a Mozart effect. Quoting from Wikipedia: "A set of research results indicating that listening to Mozart's music may induce a short-term improvement on the performance of certain kinds of mental tasks known as "spatial-temporal reasoning. Popularized versions of the hypothesis, which suggest that "listening to Mozart makes you smarter", or that early childhood exposure to classical music has a beneficial effect on mental development." You can't say that about rap music as Lil Wayne music scores the most popular among the lower intelligence groups.
Notably, all of the music in the "secret" list is Mozart. I play this music when I am exercising on my rowing machine, when I am walking, when I am coding, when I am napping, when I want to meditate without meditating or when I am stressed.
Without further ado, here is the list of the most beautiful and most beneficial music in the world, in no particular order:
Clarinet Concerto 2nd Movement Adagio K.622
Mozart Piano Concerto No 21 in C major KV 467 Andante
Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 6 KV 238: Andante
Mozart - Piano Sonata No. 11 in A major, K. 331 - I. Andante grazioso
Mozart - Piano Sonata No. 16 in C: II. Andante, K. 545
Mozart - String Quartet No. 21 in D, "Prussian," K. 575; II. Andante
Violin Concerto No. 1 in B Flat Major, K. 207 - Adagio
Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major, K. 216 - Adagio
Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Major, K. 218 - Andante Cantabile
Sonata No 18 in D, K 576 - Adagio
Mozart: Eine kleine Nachtmusik KV 525: Romance, Andante
Mozart- Flute and Harp Concerto- ii. Andante
Mozart Piano Concerto No. 7 II. Adagio K242