I realize it is small-sample stuff with no statistical significance, but it is consistent with my own preferences (giving it added weight, of course, in true Baysian style). Premature babies seem to do better when exposed to Mozart than when exposed to Bach and both trump no music (h/t MA):
Twelve premature babies, born in the 30th week of pregnancy, averaging 1.2 kilos weight, were divided to three groups, who were each exposed to the music of Mozart on the first day, to Bach on the second day, and to no music at all on the third day. The music was played from Ipad’s [sic] placed outside the incubators, with earphones in the incubators adapted to the babies’ ears at a volume of 75 decibels. An instrument measuring the absorption of oxygen and emission of carbon dioxide was attached to the babies, enabling researchers to calculate the babies’ metabolic rates.
The compositions chosen for the study from Baby Mozart and Baby Bach discs were calm, and not performed by large orchestras. Following only half an hour of exposure to Mozart’s music, the metabolic rate dropped by 9.7 percent in comparison to babies who weren’t exposed to music at all. Listening to Bach led to a drop of 4.5 percent in the metabolic rate, in comparison to those not exposed to music, but this drop wasn’t deemed to be statistically significant.
The effect of Mozart’s music was very swift: Ten minutes after beginning to listen to his music, the metabolic rate dropped by 4.5 percent. This drop continued as the music went on, in comparison to the babies who weren’t exposed to music.
“Lowering the metabolism rate of premature babies causes them to lose fewer calories and increase their weight faster, which is a positive state,” Mandel explains.
“In medical literature, there is an assumption that repeating musical themes, characteristic to most of Mozart’s compositions, is partially responsible for the calming and beneficial effect of the music.”
I wonder if any music with repeated musical themes would work: bubble-gum rock? The song that never ends? A hundred bottles of beer? Steve Reich?
Addendum: When I conducted the Blyth Festival Orchestra, we played pieces by both Mozart and Bach (and many others, of course). I enjoyed conducting just about anything, but I think I had a slight preference for Vivaldi and Mozart.