Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Practice--Body Electric (A Journey from Journalism to Music Consciousness)

(Photo by Patricia Herlevi)

The Art of Listening to Music with the Whole Body

When I made the transition from music reviewer to researcher, I delved into the areas of sound healing and psycho-acoustics (the study of sound on the nervous system).  While I mainly did this through reading articles and books, I also took sound healing workshops as well as, working with psycho-acoustic produced and sound healing CDs.  This opened me up to discovering how different types of music and sound resonated with different parts of my body, if not my entire body.

Before I explain how music resonates throughout our bodies, I would like to back up a bit and explain the difference between music reviewing and research.  I also want to qualify this with I have no formal training as a music researcher and learned these skills through intuition and work with the Spirit Realm.  I have ample training as a music journalist.

Music Journalism verses Music Research 

Music journalists (at least in the past), listen with a critical ear.  A journalist worth her weight in gold has had some theory and other musical training, as well as, knowledge of the genres she covers.  Music reviewers (journalists) have a sense of music history and hopefully, the bigger picture of the music industry, who is who of musicians, styles, and regional differences.  They are not listening to music for sound healing purposes, but for virtuosity and entertainment value.  If the word “healing” surfaces, it refers to peace concerts and community building, not healing the body-mind.

Music researchers, at least in the alternative healing and metaphysical fields listen to music from a standpoint of frequencies, timbre, intent, and the consciousness of the musicians involved.  When I reviewed CDs for journalistic value, I was open to reviewing any style.  However, as I noticed the effects of certain types of music on my body (mainly my nervous system and heart), I turned to the music research of others in both sound healing/psycho-acoustics and music preservation of traditional music.  Jonathan Goldman, Joshua Leeds, Marjorie De Muynck were just as important as teachers to me as were Mickey Hart and Alan Lomax.

As I grew more sensitive to synthesizers, electric guitar solos in the high range and programmed drums, I moved away from journalism and delved into music research.  I encourage any of you reading this article, especially those of you who consider yourselves sensitive, to read books on psycho-acoustics and the brain-music connection.  I also encourage you, if you haven’t already done so, to read Masaru Emoto’s groundbreaking books on the power of sound on water crystals.

My sensitivities transformed from debilitating (with music journalism), to an essential tool (music research), for truly understanding music.  I also mention that with six of my planets in mutable signs and a Grand Water Trine in which Neptune plays a powerful role, my nervous system is wired for feeling music on the deepest levels.  However, I feel that anyone, bar having a disorder where they are unable to listen to music, can develop deeper listening skills that involve the whole body.

(photo by Patricia Herlevi)
Global Music Consciousness

It’s a matter of developing music consciousness which begins with keeping a diary where you track emotional and physical responses to music.  The next step involves seeking out types of music that you normally would not listen to such as South African choir music, Indonesian gamelan, or tribal music from the Cook Islands, as examples.  Consider that we are all the adventurous type even if some adventurers get off the couch.  They can still turn off the TV and engage in deep music listening via headphones or room ambiance.

Meditate on the music and explore different parts of the body as you listen to the music.  Ask yourself where the music vibrates.  Is it in the Solar Plexus, the heart or the crown of the head? Does the music shift your moods with your body following accordingly? How is your posture (assuming that you’re sitting when you listen to the music)? Does your energy level decrease or increase?  If the music causes you to feel heavy then stop listening to it because this means that you have lowered your frequency.

Do you notice higher tones charging your nervous system and lower bass tones relaxing your nervous system (the normal reaction)? If the music is unfamiliar to your sensibilities, what is your comfort level in listening to it? For instance, many tribal singers chant in different scales, modes and might sound flat or sharp to our “western” ears.  Some types of polyphonic drumming might seem jarring and different types of instruments could sound discordant because the musicians play them in microtonal scales.

Don’t worry if you feel uncomfortable the first time you listen to new music.  As a music researcher who exposes herself to global music, I didn’t get the beauty of gamelan the first few times I heard it --ditto for some indigenous chants from the Pacific islands.  While other types of music such as Cuban son and Brazilian samba pleased me on the spot.

(photo by Patricia Herlevi)
Song in Your Heart 

In conclusion, I hope that with my work I can introduce music audiences to using their body a barometer for discovering healthy music choices for them.  Think of it this way, when we listen to music, we plug in our body to not only the vibrations of the musical instruments, but also the intent of the musicians.  Start building your music awareness today and enjoy the adventure as your whole body discovers the music.

Coming up August 20--Publication of the book Whole Music (S0ul Food for the Mind Body Spirit) with Synclectic Media