Open Access Open Badges Original research article

“Il flauto magico” still works: Mozart’s secret of ventilation

Klaus Laczika1*, Oliver P Graber2, Gerhard Tucek3, Alfred Lohninger4, Nikolaus Fliri4, Gertraud Berka-Schmid2, Eva K Masel1 and Christoph C Zielinski1

Author Affiliations

1 Medical University of Vienna, Department of Internal Medicine 1, Division of Palliative Care, Waehringer Guertel 18-20, Vienna 1090, Austria

2 University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, Institute 13 for Music and Movement Education, and Music Therapy, Rennweg 8, Vienna, 1030, Austria

3 IMC University of Applied Sciences, Piaristengasse 1, Krems, 3500, Austria

4 Autonom Health, Cobenzlgasse 74-76/Top 1, Vienna, 1190, Austria

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Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine 2013, 8:23  doi:10.1186/2049-6958-8-23

Published: 19 March 2013



Synchronisation/coupling between respiratory patterns and musical structure.


Healthy professional musicians and members of the audience were studied during a performance of W.A. Mozart’s Piano Concerto KV 449. Electrocardiogram (ECG)/Heart Rate Variability (HRV) data recording (Schiller: Medilog®AR12, ECG-channels: 3, sampling rate: 4096 Hz, 16 Bit) was carried out and a simultaneous synchronized high definition video/audio recording was made. The breathing-specific data were subsequently extracted using Electrocardiogram-derived respiration (EDR; Software: Schiller medilog®DARWIN) from the HRV data and overlaid at the same time onto the musical score using FINALE 2011 notation software and the GIMP 2.0 graphics programme. The musical score was graphically modified graphically so that the time code of the breathing signals coincided exactly with the notated musical elements. Thus a direct relationship could be produced between the musicians’ breathing activity and the musical texture. In parallel with the medical/technical analysis, a music analysis of the score was conducted with regard to the style and formal shaping of the composition.


It was found that there are two archetypes of ideally typical breathing behaviour in professional musicians that either drive the musical creation, performance and experience or are driven by the musical structure itself. These archetypes also give rise to various states of synchronisation and regulation between performers, audience and the musical structure.


There are two archetypes of musically-induced breathing which not only represent the identity of music and human physiology but also offer new approaches for multidisciplinary respiratory medicine.

Breathing patterns; Mozart; Synchronisation of biological and musical rhythms; Mozar