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Airing Pain 74: Music

Tune in and turn down the volume on pain

This edition is funded by grants from the Sylvia Waddilove Foundation and the Scottish Government.

Could music be a key resource for managing pain? The results of a survey on music and chronic pain are promising, according to psychologist and musician Professor Raymond MacDonald. Meanwhile, most of us are already using music to influence our own psychological well-being.

We don’t need to wait until the research is in, says Dr Don Knox – people in pain can already ‘build music into their everyday pain management strategies’. He explains why whether it’s Tchaikovsky or the Ramones, our own tunes make the biggest impact on pain.

Finally, producer Paul Evans gets a singing lesson from composer Gareth Williams, who explains why most of us are not breathing well and how vocal exercises can help.

Issues covered in this programme include: Culture, alternative therapies, music, memory, association, vocal exercises, breathing exercise, psychology, anxiety, relaxation and cystic fibrosis.


  • Raymond MacDonald, Professor of Music Psychology and Improvisation, Edinburgh University
  • Dr Don Knox, Senior Audio Lecturer, Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Gareth Williams, Composer, Edinburgh University.
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I have CRPS and am interested in your programmes especially how music can benefit pain and aid breathing

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Hello Debra, thank you for getting in contact with us! We have previous podcasts which also discusses music’s impact on pain which you might find helpful (click here to listen). Additionally, and if you’re willing, could I ask which limb your CRPS affects? We have produced lots of podcasts covering managing pain in specific areas of the body, such as the feet or back so they may be able to help you self-manage further and more specifically? Either way, might I also suggest giving our award winning Barriers Project videos a quick watch? They include discussions on pacing, the emotional impact of pain and and self-management techniques to name but a few points. Best wishes!

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