Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Vata-Pitta Experience with Music

Ayurvedic humors, Wikipedia
For those of you familiar with the Ayurvedic medical tradition of India, you will know about the three doshas--Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. You'll probably even have a handle on which dosha(s) fits your body and personality type. But did you know, that your dosha also determines the best type of music for you for healing your unique mind body spirit?

For instance, I'm a Vata-Pitta and during the windy and cold fall months, I experience an imbalance of the Vata energy which rules air and space. This causes me to feel more irritable, shaky and spaced out when the wind is blowing. The cold and dampness brings on a Kapha imbalance which rules water and cold despite my Vata predominance, yet I'm not likely to catch a cold, more likely to suffer from head aches, sore throats, and trembling.

I've tries listening to nostalgic rock songs of my past and while my mind enjoys dancing down memory lane, my nerves scream at me in pain. So right now I'm listening to Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez and the second movement calms my nerves. I've written about balancing the doshas with music earlier on Whole Music Experience and cover this topic in my upcoming book, Whole Music (Soul Food for the Mind Body Spirit), but I've barely tapped into the role of European classical music.

Remember that Vata requires warming low-tones that move at a slower pace. I find that chamber music actually works best and so does the second movement of the above piece I mentioned, especially when the guitarist (soloist) plays on the lower register of his guitar and the notes are sustained ringing out over the orchestra as the musicians wait in silence for their cues.

I also recommend turning up the bass and listening to the classical chamber music or slow orchestral pieces on headphones. Although piano music may or may not work for Vata types, unless the pianist plays on the low end more often than not, I find that slower dreamy piano pieces even new age piano pieces calm my nervous system.

Jalisco Philharmonic Orchestra, Wikipedia
I suffer Pitta imbalances mainly in the summer when the weather heats up. And oddly, I do listen to more fiery music during that time, but not always leading to greater health. Listening to too much fiery or upbeat music during the hotter days can actually fuel the temper and make it more challenging to calm anger, but it's wonderful to releasing pent up anger. But the antidote for a Pitta imbalance is actually to listen to cooler slowed down tones that stimulates the brain.  I prefer something along the lines of Aaron Copeland's Appalachian Spring or Ferde Grofe's The Grand Canyon Suite, which for some folks brings up memories of visiting the Grand Canyon or summer vacations in the American Southwest.

Also try George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue or the French Impressionist composers such as Maurice Ravel or Claude Debussy. Harps and flutes lend themselves to ideal music for Pitta when the music is played at a slow to medium tempo. Try Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of the Faun, an excellent choice for Pitta.

If you don't know your dosha type, you can look it up in magazines such as Yoga Journal or any of the new age magazines that delve into Ayurvedic traditions. In general, larger framed people with mellow personalities fall under Kapha, thin nervous types with sensitivities fall under Vata and the more fiery athletic types fall under Pitta. It is more complex than that, but this gives you at least an idea of where to begin.

I haven't covered Kapha in this article, but these folks usually require music that begins slowly and quickly builds up speed. Kaphas need to move more so I recommend dance music and getting off butts and dancing. As far classical music, listen to the works of Astor Piazzolla who combined Argentine tango with classical and jazz sensibilities or the Romantic composers, especially the Russian Romantic composers.

I hope this article is helpful for you. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me or leave a comment which I check often. Thank you for stopping by and exploring music consciousness with me. Each time another person wakes up their music consciousness, the world becomes more peaceful.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Whole Music--Purpose verses Musical Genre

found on Wikipedia
When I first started researching the healing power of music I thought that only certain genres radiated healing vibrations. I thought this even though evidence came in the form of new age music that left me feeling cold, and rock or pop music that lifted my spirits or raised my energy level so that I could accomplish a task. Yet, there was another ingredient that came along that intrigued me--intent.

It's similar to the person who acts like a saint out in the community but hasn't dealt with their shadows. They wear the right labels, do the right deeds, and hand out hugs like candy to children. But you some times have to wonder about the real intent behind their deeds--is it to collect more kudos, earn recognition with some community honor or award, or are they giving from their heart?

Let's think about how this relates to music because musical genres really are arbitrary--and I tell you this after interviewing hundreds of musical artists and reviewing over a thousand recordings in music journalism career that spanned over 25 years and included radio, online, and print journalism. As a musician, I also collaborated with musicians and I have some musical training under my belt, as they say. And the conclusion that I'm reaching is that the healing power of music begins with the intent of the musician or musicians.

While it's true that certain music lends itself better to relaxing and enjoyment while getting a massage or other type of healing, we have several states of mind required to get us through our lives. And one of those is alertness which new age or Native American flute music isn't going to help much with, even if those types of music lend to a better energy healing or meditation experience. But try driving long distance listening to relaxation music--not a good idea.

And then that brings us to the definition of healing. What are we trying to heal? Are we healing an addiction and what type of addiction and what's the root cause or belief behind the addiction? Are we unblocking anger, getting over grief, or empowering ourselves for a job interview or career change? Many times when we think about healing it revolves around physical or emotional healing, and sometimes soul healing, but even those healing experiences deal with darker emotions and so sometimes we have to at least listen to a sad song briefly to release stuck emotions.

"Playing For Change logo" by Pfc_logo.jpg: Frenciscobcnderivative work: WebHamster (talk) - Pfc_logo.jpg. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons -
This doesn't mean that we don't pay attention to text. Dark text is still dark text and vibrates at a low energy which can also leave us stuck in darkness and despair. So words matter, as does musical contour. The key the music is in matters, the tone, and the performance all matter as we embark on a healing path or offer healing to others. But even more so, the musician's intent matters. Even pop musicians are capable of writing healing songs during a world or personal crisis. Think of the fundraising songs from the 1980s for the famines in African for instance or the musical collectives performing pop songs under the guise of Playing for Change.

Soul music is considered pop music, yet there are roots in the Black Church (African-American church as in gospel music and spirituals), as well as, West Africa, Brazil and other parts of Latin America. And sometimes dance offers healing and we require the right music for the job whether that is the tangos of Astor Piazzolla, salsa of the Puerto Ricans and Cubans, or soul music. I leave out disco tunes since they just provide musical chaos with all those manufactured beats. Disco reminds me too much of drugs, promiscuous sex, and the narcissism of the Me Decade. However, funk tells another story which has solid roots in the African-American and Latin American experience.

Don't get me wrong, I still feel that the music represented on this blog works for healing purposes and on individual levels especially. I'm still concerned about the musical vibrations we send out to the planet and some of the messaging in those songs which I find damaging to the planet. Hatred is never the answer and that is the lowest intent of all as is spreading fear in the world. Purposeful musicians I would hope align themselves with love and peace while staying mindful of their own moods and beliefs. No one is perfect, but we are evolving.

If you would like to comment on this topic, feel free. I'm open to dialogue about healing the world through music.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Music Experiment (Swinging Moods)

I'm going to include 5 music videos here from different genres. Please listen to or watch the videos with headphones and keep track of the changing of your moods. If you keep a music diary, then write down your emotions and physical effects to the various tracks.

Be aware of nostalgic memories, mood you began with, attitudes towards certain genres, and it's best to close your eyes while listening, at least one time through the process. Watching the video will dilute the effect of listening to the music.

This exercise is to track moods caused by musical vibration. Notice timbre, chords, scales, contours of the melodies or harmonies. If you're a trained musicians this will be easier, but we can all do it.

First here is a track by the rock band R.E.M who at this time was more folk and acoustic sounding. This is off the band's first EP, Chronic Town.

Second, we're going to listen to the French swing band Paris Combo, a bouncy song called Living Room.

Third, we'll listen to a folk anthem cover performed by the 10,000 Maniacs

Fourth, will listen to a track by Miles Davis off his Kind of Blue album

And finally, we'll listen to a classical piece by Claude Debussy.

Some of the tracks have text which cause us to visualize scenarios while other tracks are instrumental so just use your imagination. However, remember to track your moods.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

My Love Affair...with Music

When did my love affair with music begin? Was it while I swam in the waters of my mother's womb when she played old jazz standards and Broadway tunes for me? Was it during my first music class in elementary school? Was it after John Lennon's untimely death when I played Beatles albums back to back and cried quietly in the background? Or was it during my college radio show when I discovered alternative rock and folk-rock music? Or was it the first time I heard one of Astor Piazzolla's tangos sizzle on my stereo?

With a human-to-human love affair we know when we first taste love on the lips of another or see it in the eyes of another as he or she gazes at us from across a room. But what is it about music that has some of us going gaga or giggling behind a veil of indifference? And what is music anyway? It's intangible and we can't hold it in our hands? We can't really embrace something intangible, but our emotions can. I happen to believe that the strongest force on the planet is music. There is nothing more powerful to align us with the Divine or to separate us with a wall of hatred or indifference between us.

Music calls the shots and its frequencies direct our emotions and shapes our moods. When a marching band blasts its way down the streets, a part of us marches along with them. Try not tapping your feet or swaying a bit. When the orchestra launches into a tango suddenly we're all looking around for a dance partner or at the very least, we catch ourselves swooning and thinking sensual thoughts, sometimes against our will.

I have immersed myself in more music traditions than I can name in a blog posts, but let's just say I'm well acquainted with field recordings hailing from places the average person can't even pronounce much less find on a globe. I grew up with the usual pop music, turned to alternative rock in the 1980s and 1990s, and then discovered world, then jazz, then classical, then early music, while landing back in traditional or folkloric music. I've pounded a drum in drum circles, I've attended sound healing circles, and I've joined my voice and other musical talents in jam sessions or played solo mainly.

Astor Piazzolla, Wikipedia
I have no idea what my brain looks like on music, but I would shudder to see what it looks like if I never had the musical training or experiences that I have had. As a journalist then later a music researcher, I'm on board with deep listening skills. I hear the subtleties which is why I enjoy classical music to the extent that I do. I know a lot about music. I hosted and produced radio shows centered on music, interviewed musicians for over 20 years, reviewed over a thousand recordings easily, and became a lifelong learner in regard to musical traditions and musical healing practices. I don't know where I end and music begins.

I've met people in my lifetime who have little to do with music. These people are often suffering from an illness or malaise. But I also know people who suffer from certain brain conditions or hearing conditions, don't enjoy the musical journey. But for everyone else, ask yourself, when did your love affair with music begin? Feel free to leave comments below.

Mindfulness verses Brain-Science & Music

In 2005, I came up with the concept of Power Songs because as a journalist, I noticed the effects of certain music on my daily activities and moods. Then shortly after that, I came up with the concept of keeping a  music diary based on the food elimination diet and food allergy journal. So I'm surprised to find a book published in 2012 that combines brain science with music playlists.

Your Playlist Can Change Your Life by Galina Mindlin, Don Durousseau and Joseph Cardillo (Source Books, 2012), offers an easy and flowing read that revolves around using everyday music to boosts moods, relax the mind, organize the mind, create more dopamine in the brain, and so on. The authors also include exercises which are basically how-to sections on how to change your brain and neurological patterns without side effects (though some of the songs on their playlist have text messaging I wouldn't want floating around in my brain's pathways).

While I do understand that including lists with pop music (the late Don Campbell and Daniel Levitin also included rock and pop music references in their books), I prefer using purposeful music where the musicians had set intentions for healing and wholeness in their listeners. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed reading about the latest brain science in such a flowing and easy-to-digest manner. I also enjoyed reading about the patients finding success using music as opposed to drugs in working with brain-related issues. The authors (though it comes off as advertising for their practices), mention Brain Music Therapy where a practitioner records an individual's brainwaves and turns it into songs for the person to use as therapy. This is the next waves of pharma-music (I'm coining this phrase).

My mission has always been to raise awareness of how we listen to and apply music to our daily lives. My approach is to delve into music from around the world and throughout history. I think moving away from pop culture and exploring deeper territory is what's needed here. How well is sound healing going to work on an individual who turns on the radio station after a session and listens to Metallica? I admit I'm a musical snob but I still promote the idea of purposeful music even if we can only start where we are at this point. However, someone who listens to heavier songs can at least try listening to African pop music or more rhythmic jazz. At least I think so.

Still, we now know (even in pop culture) that music lights up areas of our brains. We know that music changes moods and that some moods are healthier than others. But if we're going to change our attitudes too then watching lyrical content which can easily turn into negative or positive mantras (which we know has metaphysical power), is crucial to our well-being.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Returning to the Healing Power of Music (Musician's Role for a New Age)

We've all known someone who experienced music being used in a hospital, hospice, peace vigil, peace rally, or other situation that involves healing. The wisdom of the ancients in regard to music has also returned to us via sound healing practices and music therapy, even in our daily lives. 

However, even knowing that music has a powerful transformational effect on our lives isn't enough unless we use music with intention and purpose. Obviously, we know that when we attend a rock concert or even a jazz concert we do so for entertainment. But often when we attend a world or traditional music concert or festival, the musicians usually educate us about the history, text, and even sometimes the healing properties of songs that they perform. In fact, it was when I delved into global music starting in 2003, that I learned about ancient history of musical uses.

And we can visit the healing of music through several avenues whether that's new age sound healing or academic and scientific music therapy or cultural anthropology focusing upon musical vibration. I have delved into all three as a journalist and now as a music researcher. I hold no academic degrees in music therapy or anthropology, but I do know how my own body reacts to vibration (even though we are all essentially different). Still, we have some truisms such as hateful text is not going to result in healing of any kind. The reason for that is hate is based on fear and dualism which means that we separate ourselves from the Divine or God or Source, whatever name you choose to use.

We live in a vibrational universe. Our thoughts, emotions, feelings and actions all contain vibration or frequencies. And since it is humans that create music for humans (leaving non-humans out of this particular post), our thoughts, feelings, and emotions end up in the final product. This is why it's of importance for musicians to pray or meditate before recording or performing music. The more aware musicians don't move forward without acknowledging their energy and I have run into this several times in interviewing musicians for this blog and for other publications.

The days of the egoist musician are about to end. We are remembering our griot roots whether or not we have African DNA because I'm using griot lightly here and inclusive. The role of the musician for this new age is to report what's happening in the vibrational field and not so much what fearful activities are happening the world which we recognize as illusions anyway. The musician's role these days is to raise their vibration to uplift others through music or organized sound. This does suggests a new type of music education that revolves around certain scales (some ancient), harmonies, text, and metaphysical wisdom.

Many of the music discoveries we made in recent years were either through synchronicity or seemingly through accident or what some people would call coincidence. But beyond all of that, what I believe is happening is that musicians recall their ancient music wisdom either through their DNA lineage such as with a griot or someone of another musical class (think India), or they are recalling what musician roles they performed in previous lifetimes. While practices such as music therapy appear new (or at least deriving from the early 20th Century), they are in fact ancient since the Greeks and Egyptians (and others) knew about the connection between musical vibrations and healing the mind, body, and spirit.

We know that sound healing has ancient roots as we have learned with the work of Jonathan Goldman and his contemporaries. So if you are a musician, it behooves you to study metaphysics and even energy healing. Many of you are already studying or practicing music therapy. BTW, music therapy is rising in popularity and several colleges and universities offer it in their programs. Do a Google search to find out which universities offer programs.

If you enjoy the articles on this blog, please join as a follower. Thank you. Let's get the word out on an important book, Whole Music and build a strong platform for it. This paves the way for publication.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Global Music Consciousness in Science & Metaphysics

Recently, I spoke to a woman on the bus about the rise in popularity of music therapy. I told her about brain and music studies from the last decade. The most remarkable aspect of music as medicine is that it has no side effects and if you find the right music for the condition, miracles happen. So what do we focus upon these days?

I believe that we will continue with the brain-music science and that will play out in the medical community in larger ways. I doubt pharmaceutical companies will enjoy competing with sound vibration, especially purposeful sound vibration, but with fewer side effects and research to back up the healing power of music, why would we toss out this healing tool? Of course, there is the danger of companies creating formulaic music or musical formulas to heal various ailments which they'll find a way to package and market. If people find that they're getting the right results this is not a bad way to go, however, let's not lose the organic qualities of music and turn it into sound drugs.

We will continue in the metaphysical field to study the magical and frequency aspects of music. Sound vibrations dovetail with manifestation practices. We will continue to chant seed sounds and I see sound healing becoming a household practice in the decades ahead. Tuning forks and singing bowls will no longer be considered too new age for the average person. And any of you working in the sound healing or energy healing fields would do well to teach workshops so that people use these powerful tools in intentional ways for the best effects.

We can also use music or sound vibrations to heal the environment, animals, and work with elements. But save this work for the healing masters since this involves setting powerful intentions and involves elements of shamanism. Meanwhile, keep you eyes on the following musicians and musical healers in the coming years.

Jonathan Goldman, Daniel Levitin (research), Joshua Leeds (psychoacoustic research), R. Carlos Nakai (musician/composer)Christine Stevens and Alesandra Belloni.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Awakening through Music (Hidden Power In Purposeful Music)

Around 2003, I turned away from my freelance gig as a movie reviewer/journalist and I experienced world music pulling me into greater consciousness. And while I was awakening, scientists were exploring music consciousness, musicians explored the music connection with non-humans, and music therapy grew by leaps and bounds bringing healing to prisons, hospitals, hospices, and other situations to heal despair.

Let's revisit some of the profound awakenings we experience in previous years and decades revolving around the healing power of music.

Around 2005, we discovered Masaru Emoto's work with water crystals and human consciousness via music. And around the same time various well-known sound healers were exploring the ancient practices with sound and music. Meanwhile, the connection between quantum physics and music fused with the work of metaphysical teachers and authors such as Greg Braden.

I launched this blog in 2007 and mostly reviewed recordings that I felt played into music consciousness even when reviewing traditional or world music recordings. Purposeful music comes in many forms. While I was writing reviews I came across music projects that bridged cultures such as the Playing for Change in which musicians from around the world all sung the same song but in different locations. Thanks to technology these tracks were overlaid on top of each other in a moving way.

Meanwhile, world music continued to grow as more people attended music festivals such as WOMAD and traditional musicians married technology with traditional instruments thus attracting younger audiences. Thanks the internet and YouTube, we discovered nomadic musicians from the Sahara Desert and built stronger ties with veteran musicians. Music journalism was on the rise and so was an interest in ethnomusicology with such books as Song Catchers arriving on the scene.

Early music in the form of Gregorian and plainsong chants of Hildegard von Bingen captured the awareness of Christians and non-Christians seeking music for relaxation and spiritual peace. Renaissance polyphony choirs grabbed my attention around 2006 when I penned several articles and reviews on the topic, then later included a chapter on this type of song in my book Whole Music.

Finally, for the sake of this blog post (keeping it on the shorter side), several projects revolved around consciousness in regard to nature and music. Concert Pianist Lisa Spector and Sound Therapist-Research Joshua Leeds teamed up with the Through a Dog's Ear book and recordings. The late Marjorie De Muynck blended field recordings from the natural world with sound healing and jazz instruments with her recordings while reminding us of our shamanic roots. David Rothenberg took his musical instruments out into nature and jammed with insects, whales, and birds. And the Saami yoik which represents a chant to a person, place, or thing (usually animals or people) continued to fascinate me and others. And let's not forget the Thai Elephant Orchestra which blew my mind. Who knew elephants could play musical instruments?

We've come along way with music conscious over the past decades. However, I worry that we're falling back asleep and going with the status quo. Please help me to keep us awake in regard to the healing power of music. Pass the word on about this blog and create a buzz for my book, Whole Music. I invite other musical healers to also write and publish more books on the topic. We've made progress so let's not stop now.