|photo by Patricia Herlevi|
Take a walk on a park or a street with little car traffic and listen intently to all the sounds that greet your ears. How do these sounds make you feel? Do they remind you of a childhood event? Are you taken to a pleasant place or do you feel dissonance grinding away at your muscles? Take a walk in a wooded park, where most everyday sounds are drowned out and natural sounds greet you, like the sound of a brook or songbirds chirping. How do these sounds affect you? I'm guessing you feel relaxed, unless you have a phobia to hiking in the woods.
Now, let's take this step one step further, imagine that you are a traditional tribal person and that you perform rituals involving music with or for the natural world. Imagine that this connection is crucial for safety and good fortune for your tribe, that your work has a shamanic component to it. I'm thinking specifically of the Saami people at the moment who chant or yoik to a person, place, or thing, usually something natural. With this yoik, the chanter creates an energy flow between him or herself and the subject of the yoik. Some tribal rituals use drums to match the heartbeat of the earth and create a trance state for those hosting the ceremony. In ancient times shepherds fashioned flutes out of eagle and vulture bones which were used to help with herding the sheep. They also fashioned flutes out of reeds and cedar.
But have we lost touch with our connection to nature and the purposeful use of music that allows us to communicate with the natural world? Have we forgotten the sound of music in a natural setting? And how can we retrieve these practices? Start with hosting a drum circle in wooded park or a beach. And don't forget to incorporate dance. Learn how to chant energy to animals and nature so that you can build a connection, a bridge. Sing or play an instruments with birds or whales like David Rothenberg does or record animals, birds, insects and use their sounds in sound healing recordings similar to the late Marjorie de Muynck. You don't need to be indigenous to combine music with nature. You just need a willingness to take your life deeper into the realm of enchantment.