Becoming the DJ in Your Own Life – Part 1 of an Interview with Barry Goldstein

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

Music can tell stories, increase brain power, and even influence our mood. In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen are joined by Grammy Award winning producer Barry Goldstein to talk about all things music. Goldstein, also the author of the bestselling book “The Secret Language Of The Heart”, provides scientific research to illustrate how what we hear can affect how we feel.


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Daniel Amen: Welcome back to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. We're so excited for the next three podcasts. I actually have one of our dear friends Barry Goldstein whose musical experience spans many styles and genres; from co-producing that grammy award track "69 Freedom Special" with Les Paul, for best rock musical, best rock instrumental in 2005, to providing ambient music for Shirley MacLaine.

Barry has composed and produced for television, film, major record labels and top ten recording artists. In addition, Barry reached Billboard Top Ten albums on new age charts with the New York Times' Bestselling authors Neale Donald Walsch, Anita Moorjani and yours truly Dr Daniel Amen.

We did that last year with the Brain Warrior's Way album which we'll talk about. In addition he's composed and produced music for authors like Gregg Braden, my friend Dr Joe Dispenza, Colette Baron-Reid. Barry's just done so many things.

His bestselling book "The Secret Language Of the Heart" provides the latest scientific research on the benefits of sound, music and vibration. His music is used in hospitals, hospices, cancer centers and medical practices. And the reason we wanted to have him on, besides "we love him and he's our friend". Music is such a hot topic when it comes to the

Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:01:55]So powerful

Daniel Amen: Brain.

It's one of the things that has been show to actually grow the hippocampus. The seahorse shaped structure in your brain that's responsible for memory. It can decrease stress hormones. It can improve your mood. There's so many neuroscience and cognitive benefits to it.


Barry Goldstein: Thank you, I'm so happy to be here with both of you.

Daniel Amen: Thank you for being with us. So how did this all start for you? How did you fall in love with music and why healing?

Barry Goldstein: Well it took quite a couple of turns to get to this point. At a young age, I discovered the power of music sitting behind a piano with my mom. Just her playing and me realizing the resonance that happened in room when you hit a piano. So I think I fell in love with it at an early age. As I progressed to becoming a music producer, in New York City, I realized that I was beginning to lose my love of music by [inaudible 00:03:01] a hundred hours of studio time to create a five minute song. And how stressed I was becoming actually within that.

So I started to, kind of, take away everything I knew about music and started to create in a much different way of composing and just allowing the music to come through me as opposed to spending that meticulous time in production and

Tana Amen: Right.

Barry Goldstein: Composition.

I started to target back to my own heart rate at relaxed state.

Tana Amen: Oh, interesting.

Barry Goldstein: I did some research on the internet and at 60 beats per minute, most of us between 60 and 70 beats maintain a relaxed state. So I said "well I really want to reconnect with my heart" and so I began to take these hour long journeys, I call them "of decomposing".

Tana Amen: Interesting.

Barry Goldstein: Yeah I thought "no one will listen to this but maybe it will help me with me my stresses. People encouraged me, they said "you need to put this music out there because it's very, very calming".

They were hour long pieces, not a lot of melody. And now we're learning in research this exact type of music is how we're targeting people with insomnia. So at 60 beats per minute, very long tones, not a lot of melody, really kinda induces us to relaxation. So I think I was doing it then and then I became very curious as we began to gather testimonials from people of how they were using it. In dentist's offices, and for sleep, and with their mom who had dementia.

I got so curious about it that I wanted to know why this was happening.

Tana Amen: So I'm one of those people, I use that music to go to sleep. I mediate to it. I actually did a long dental procedure with no anesthesia because I just didn't want the anesthesia.

Barry Goldstein: Right

Tana Amen: But using meditation and music, so I never really understood how it affects your brain. But clearly it does, music is very powerful.

Daniel Amen: [crosstalk 00:04:56]Well we love it so much that Barry's music is the brain enhancing music we have one Brain Fit Life. And, it's similar to our Billboard charting album "The Brain Warrior's Way"

Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:05:12][inaudible 00:05:12]It's great.

Daniel Amen: I love saying that. 'Cause there's music for sleep, there's music for relaxation. There's music for focus, creativity, motivation.

Tana Amen: Right.

Daniel Amen: So how is that all different? I mean you target the beat of the heart but when you want to help someone feel happier, or more focused, how do you change the music for that?

Barry Goldstein: Yeah, well it does target the beat of the heart and the heart-brain relationship is really interesting. When you're targeting your heart you're really targeting your brain as well and vice-versa. So if I'm slowing down and I'm in that relaxed state and my heart is coming down ... And my heart rate is coming down to a relaxed state, I'm not gonna be in beta, you know, with that. I'm gonna move to a slower brain wave state as well.

There's this conversation that happens between the heart and brain that's targeting these. But really a lot of it, as well as dynamics, within music. So when we're trying to relax in the evening, you want very little melody. But if you have an important business meeting and you want to be motivated and inspired, you know you're going to listen to something with rhythm right? You're gonna want to feel that in your body.

Tana Amen: Right.

Barry Goldstein: And so, you're working with dynamics as well and we've showed this in research with attention, you know when there's dynamics in music. For example, when you go to a concert and all of a sudden there's a pause in the music. Your attention is completely grabbed by that silence because all of a sudden that dynamic has changed.

So by creating-

Tana Amen: That's fascinating.

Barry Goldstein: Yeah, by creating these dynamics you can target different moods and enhance different moods.

Tana Amen: So, without knowing any of the science. I mean, I think most of us intuitively know that music changes our moods, changes our states and it can do it very quickly.

Barry Goldstein: That's right.

Tana Amen: And I know, like I just said, for sleep I will often meditate to that type of music you talked about. Those long, sort of drawn out, I don't know what you would call it technically, but slower type of music.

Barry Goldstein: Yes.

Tana Amen: I'm a rock girl, put some Def Leppard on and I'll get motivated and I want to work out. That's my happy place.

Barry Goldstein: [crosstalk 00:07:28]Right, sure.

Tana Amen: Makes me happy instantly. Put 70's music on and I feel instantly anxious and angry.

Barry Goldstein: Right.

Tana Amen: And it's weird.

Daniel Amen: I cannot listen to Cat Stevens at home.

Tana Amen: Nope.

Daniel Amen: I grew up loving Cat Stevens and as soon as I do, because it reminds her of her drug addict uncle, the trauma when she was four years old.

Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:07:48]But music has that power.

Barry Goldstein: Right, and I think that's really where we're going with music. Now that we're starting to see more and more research on it, we're getting more specific because it's not just a panacea where we can prescribe music like we do medicine.

Tana Amen: No.

Barry Goldstein: Each person is so individual that we have to-

Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:08:04]Music can be therapeutic but it can be traumatizing based on your experience.

Barry Goldstein: That's right and I think that's where we're starting to fine-tune research and starting to say "wow we really have to get more specific with this because music's very powerful".

We just can't sub categorize and say "okay, classical is great for this, heavy metal's not good for this" because within each one of those, there's so many differences. And I think we might be over simplifying a bit when we're looking at genre specific music. For example in classical music, you can listen to the William Tell Overture or you can listen to a Brahms Lullaby.

Tana Amen: Right.

Barry Goldstein: And so, when we say classical, what part of-

Tana Amen: A wide range

Barry Goldstein: Right. What part of classical is it? What part of reggae is it when we're talking about that? What's the tempo of it?

Tana Amen: Right.

Barry Goldstein: Who played it? Right because-

Tana Amen: Even rap. Rap has happy rap and then it's got some pretty dark

Barry Goldstein: That's right.

Tana Amen: Stuff

Barry Goldstein: It's when we begin to realize the power of music that we can incorporate it into a program where we're targeting our own mood states. We're targeting physical challenges. You know insomnia or we're targeting even becoming more emotionally intelligent with autistic children.

Tana Amen: Amazing.

Barry Goldstein: We can talk more about that but there's some amazing studies of how music engages the brain and the emotional aspects of that to create emotional intelligence in autism.

Tana Amen: That's amazing.

Daniel Amen: And it's not just playing music, it can be listening to music.

Barry Goldstein: [crosstalk 00:09:32]That's right

Daniel Amen: So there's this concept called "entrainment" which means your brain picks up the rhythm.

Barry Goldstein: That's right.

Daniel Amen: And the beat in the environment.

Barry Goldstein: That's right.

Daniel Amen: And so ... Talk about that a little bitt and how people are using your music in different kinds of settings.

Barry Goldstein: Okay. Well music is a language, so it speaks to us. And just like a language, it creates a rhythm.

Like, you ever hear people say "I'm falling out of rhythm in my life"?. So music has a metronome that it basically utilizes. You know "one - two - three - four" "two - two - three - four". Your heart and our body is also a metronome. And study has shown at 66 beats per minute, they just had people listening to a metronome, and it actually reduced anxiety.

Tana Amen: Oh wow

Barry Goldstein: Just by listening to that metronome.

So when we begin to apply that into music as well, targeting different states. If we want to be relaxed at 60 beats per minute, let's listen a piece like we discussed. Where it's really long tones, not a lot of melody that's going to distract you. But your heart has the ability to adapt and that's why when people are working out, they're not gonna listen to relaxation music.

There's been a study, I think it was done by Pandora, that showed people listening to yoga - one of the most important things for them is the music that I played-

Tana Amen: Yeah, absolutely.

Barry Goldstein: Yeah, in the yoga session. Right? So.

Tana Amen: So one of the reasons I have trouble with yoga is the music is too slow for me.

Barry Goldstein: Right. But there are some classes that are very DJ oriented.

Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:11:10]More powerful. Yeah.

Barry Goldstein: And they're taking you on more of a journey right, because there's several stages of yoga.

Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:11:15]Right and it's more powerful.

Barry Goldstein: Yeah. It will have slow music, it will have music to move to because your heart's adapting. You're beginning to breathe to it and your breath is beginning to be the conductor as well.

I consider the heart like the orchestra leader that's going on in your physical body and when you're breathing, that's the conductor saying "no let's slow down here, let's speed up here" and then your heart starts to send out those messages we call this coherence.

Tana Amen: Interesting.

Barry Goldstein: So when your heart is beating at these smooth, orderly rhythms right, it's just like the conductor. Wow you can hear the harmonies, you can hear the beautiful sections of the orchestra.

Tana Amen: So that's one of the reasons it has the power to help us calm down and slow not only our heart but even change our brain state.

Barry Goldstein: [crosstalk 00:12:01]That's right

Daniel Amen: There's actually something called "heart rate variability"

Barry Goldstein: That's right.

Daniel Amen: Which is the beat-to-beat variability of your heart that is associated with anxiety, depression, memory issues. The more variability ... So it's a myth that when you ... I take your pulse. Or you're a nurse, you know when you take a pulse it should be even. Because, if there's too little variability that's a sign of illness and stress. And after you have a heart attack, if you don't have the variability, you have more than double the risk of dying in the next two years.

Certain kinds of music increase heart rate variability which is heart health, which then goes to brain health.

Barry Goldstein: That's right.

Daniel Amen: So they are connected.

Barry Goldstein: [crosstalk 00:12:54]They're very connected

Daniel Amen: And the heart has its own nervous system that's connected to the big brain.

Tana Amen: So for people listening, there's not really inherently anything right or wrong with listening ... Because you don't like slow music it's not a bad thing and you like, you know a faster beat. It's just your preference.

Barry Goldstein: Yeah, I mean there are some great starting points with it that we can plug in. Just like there's some general things in medicine or general things in nourishment right? That we know work really well, like what we're talking about.

But ultimately it's targeting the states you want to be in and I call it "becoming the DJ of your own life". Just like a DJ-

Daniel Amen: I love that.

Give us a prescription on ... Here at the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast we talk about ... So here are brain healthy habits, here are things to do and things not to do right? They're general prescriptions.

And then there are prescriptions for "I struggle with ADD", "I have anxiety", "I have depression" and so on. Next podcast we're actually going to go into some of those conditions and talk about different strokes for different folks.

Barry Goldstein: Okay.

Daniel Amen: But for now as we finish this one up, talk about what are some general guidelines on how to use music to boost your heart health but also your brain health?

Barry Goldstein: Okay, so. Can I use you as an example?

Daniel Amen: All the time.

Barry Goldstein: Okay. So tell me about your day today. How did your day start off? Some things that are going on in your day and let me work with you to create a little music program for the day.

Daniel Amen: Awesome. I woke up early thinking I'm working on "The Magic Of Memory". A new course with a friend of mine who's a memory savant. And so as soon as I woke up, I went through the forty things I memorized last night, just as an exercise to see if I could remember.

Barry Goldstein: Okay.

Daniel Amen: So I did that and then-

Barry Goldstein: So let me ... I'll pause you there. With that you're talking about gathering a lot of information right? Waking up excited right? And you basically want to integrate some of that information and just allow it to stew and brew.

So for me I would ... First of all I like to start off my day with a piece of music that connects me to gratitude. Okay.

Tana Amen: That makes sense.

Barry Goldstein: Yeah, and just really connecting with my breath, my heartbeat. I call this the "internal symphony". The sounds within me. So I could start off with a piece of music that creates gratitude for me. And sometimes that's a very calming piece of music, or it could be Sly & The Family Stone "Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself".

We're not getting genre specific, we're gearing towards what emotion do I want to target and what piece of music is going to make me feel that way. So that would be my jumpstart for you with that, beginning in gratitude.

Then I would ask myself "what's my intention for the day?" So where do you want to go next? What would you like to achieve in your day?

Daniel Amen: I love what you said because as soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning, I have a mantra for myself "today is going to be a great day"

Because then my brain finds why it's going to be a great day. So if there's a piece of music that's attached to gratitude and positive emotion that's awesome.

Barry Goldstein: Yeah and mantra too, that's another great thing to talk about. But what repetitive mantra does, it takes you out of your thinking mind and also it increases cerebral blood flow.

So that mantra, when you're doing it over and over again, you're going to increase that blood flow to get those ideas going to get your day started.

Tana Amen: So ... You know I adore you. He's the yin to my yang, he's amazing, he grounds me. But he's the poster child for being grounded and like, not getting shaken up that much. That's not me. Let's just talk about people who are a bit more like ... Like I wake up in the morning, had that total same wake up with the gratitude, I want to focus and get myself ... And I do that, I did that. And then instantly my day just gets hectic. Okay? Got really hectic, really fast and then I got off the tracks and got really annoyed at something really quickly.

Barry Goldstein: Okay.

Tana Amen: Now I have a little exercise I do to let it go.

Barry Goldstein: Okay.

Tana Amen: Because I knew I needed to come in and record and it's like "let this go".

Barry Goldstein: Okay

Tana Amen: So get back to gratitude. But let's talk about-

Barry Goldstein: [crosstalk 00:17:27]Yeah let's

Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:17:28]People who are-

Daniel Amen: [crosstalk 00:17:29]Disrupting your state.

Tana Amen: A bit more average.

Barry Goldstein: [crosstalk 00:17:30]Yeah and let's talk about

Daniel Amen: [crosstalk 00:17:31]And then I'll put it on my phone.

Barry Goldstein: Okay. So we're ... Lets talk about two things.

So grounding right? So if you want to re-ground in your morning. You feel like you're going off-base. For you, thank about the ground.

Tana Amen: Right.

Barry Goldstein: What kind of music do you think is going to ground you in?

Tana Amen: Oh Geez, what do I like or what do I think will ground me?

Barry Goldstein: [crosstalk 00:17:51]No, what do you think will ground you?

Tana Amen: I don't know, I like bass. I don't know.

Barry Goldstein: Exactly.

Tana Amen: Oh is that right?

Barry Goldstein: That's exactly right.

Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:17:58]Oh I'm so happy.

Barry Goldstein: It's exactly right, that's what I was going to say.

Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:18:00]Because that's what I like. That's what I'm drawn to.

Barry Goldstein: So grounding, think of that. You want to go "what does the ground do?" It goes lower.

Tana Amen: Right, I love bass.

Barry Goldstein: [crosstalk 00:18:05]So you want connect to bass.

Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:18:06]Which is why I love rock.

Barry Goldstein: Or even some of the more modern dance music and hip hop has a lot of bass in it.

Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:18:12]Right

Barry Goldstein: So that's going to ground you so you can-

Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:18:14]See it's not because I have ADD. Because I needed to be grounded.

Barry Goldstein: Yeah.

Daniel Amen: [crosstalk 00:18:19]We're coming back to ADD in the next podcast

Barry Goldstein: [crosstalk 00:18:18]So you're gonna feel yourself more in your body because you can feel the bass.

Tana Amen: I do. That's so true.

Barry Goldstein: Right so that's going to be great for you.

Daniel Amen: It's all about that bass.

Tana Amen: Oh my god I'm so excited.

Barry Goldstein: Yeah.

Tana Amen: That makes sense because I just like, I literally ... I'll turn the bass up in my car. Because I'm like "I just feel that". You just like ... Feel it

Barry Goldstein: [crosstalk 00:18:34]Yeah so those are the lower frequencies. Bass are lower frequencies, they are slower moving. They're lower. Lower and slower. If it was the other way around and you want to be in a more creative state, you you want to go higher because they're lighter energies. But grounding back in is going to be all about the bass.

Tana Amen: I'm always drawn to that.

Daniel Amen: So when we come back, we are going to talk more about how to use music as part of your day. And how different people like, Tana and I can use music in a more targeted way.

Stay with us, we're here with Barry Goldstein on the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast.