Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Practice--Musical Travel via Worldwide Web

Since I haven't been able to travel long-distance due to finances and health reasons, I learned about the world by exploring musical traditions from other cultures.  But I didn't stop there, I also watch anthropology videos and read books on the topic.  Since I was a child, I have pursued my interests in other cultures with my earliest efforts involving pen pals in German, France and Japan.  Once the internet came available I jumped on board ditto for world music via compact discs and concerts.  However, one of my favorite books in my collection is Mickey Hart's Song Catchers published with National Geographic.

This book delves into the works of famous ethnomusicologists (anthropologist who study music-related culture).  But I've already reviewed the book for this blog and I would rather pursue the topic of exploring music via headphones (or not) and YouTube.  So what kind of videos can we find on YouTube and how do we know what to search for?

Since I had reviewed world music CDs from around the globe for over ten years before I began surfing YouTube, I already had lists of music I wanted to find on the website.  You could easily pick up any of the Rough Guide books on music or if you don't want to visit YouTube, visit the Rough Guide and National Geographic music sites where you will also find videos with notes written by music experts.  If African music floats your boat, check out and if you want to explore music from all corners of the planet, by all means, check out 

I'm getting you started with three folkloric music traditions since my main focus for this article is world music.

The first video features the Tuareg nomads from Africa's Sahara Desert, mainly the country of Mali.  This is more rock-blues than traditional, but you can find a myriad of Tuareg videos on YouTube.

The second video takes us far north near the Arctic Circle where we hear the indigenous people called the Sami perform a yoik (a mystical chant to a person, place or thing).

In the third and final video, we're off to Bali to watch a gamelan ensemble.


Now, each of these videos will set different moods and your reactions to the musical traditions will vary.  Write down your emotional, mental, physical and spiritual responses if any in your music diary.  We will continue this global music treasure hunt in upcoming posts, but for now, bon voyage.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Practice--Song, Memory & Deep Psychology

Photo by Patricia Herlevi
In the past two years I have noticed an acceleration of healing coming from following threads of old songs deep into my subconscious mind via memory.  I have a feeling that I'm not alone on this healing journey and that many of you are encountering songs from your past with no real understanding of why those songs are coming to you now.

I've explored this phenomenon through writing in my journal and other avenues such as following the threads to see where they lead.  And I have found at least two ways in which these songs return to us now so we can heal and clear old wounds.  The first way is we remember a certain song out of the blue as it just pops in our head.  Then certain feelings come up with the song which might be dread, panic or joy.  Or maybe we experience a mix of emotions that we haven't encountered in a long while because we stuffed those emotions deep into our subconscious to move forward with our lives.  These emotions however act like heavy baggage and weigh us down.  And 2014 is the year to release that baggage once and for all.

The other way the songs come up is we're surfing on YouTube for a particular song and magically on the side of the page we see albums or songs appearing.  We associate the albums or songs with a particular time in our lives and then wonder what those songs sounded like, because we might have forgotten.  We click on the link and listen to the song and then those old and even stuck emotions come up.  We might turn the song off and click on something else to avoid the rush of emotions or we might feel joy first such as that song reminds us of a past love affair, but then we remember the wrong direction that affair too and then we just suffer our way through the rest of the song.

If the emotions and baggage are not overwhelming we can use Reiki or EFT or some other energy healing modality to release the emotions and therefore most likely lose interest in the song.  However, if the feelings and emotions have many knots, then it's best to seek the help of a qualified therapist to help work through stuck grief, anger, resentment, hostility or other challenging emotions.  You might even consider working with a music therapist who can help you work your way through your emotions using music.

Ask yourself these questions:

1. Why am I hearing this song now?

2. What new emotions do I feel for this song given who I am now?

3. What old emotions are coming up that I associate with this song?

4. What baggage am I carrying that this song leads me to?

5. Are there many knots and issues tied in with this song? 

6. What's the best course of action for me to take in healing these emotions?

7. Is it the text of the song that triggers an emotional response or the melody?

8. What stage in your life did I first encounter this song and what events happened to me around that time?

9. Does this song lead me to other similar songs from that era? And what emotions do those songs bring up?

10. Do I associate this song with a particular person or event? What are my feelings toward the event or person?

And so on.  Remember to write the responses to these questions in your music diary along with the title of the songs, when you heard the songs first and when you encountered the song recently.

I believe that songs are messages from our subconscious to our conscious.  They act as tour guides or maps to our deeper workings and can lead us to heavier emotions that trip us up.  If we work with music therapists or some other type of counselor who understands how music affects our brain and neurological system, we can make great progress in releasing old emotional wounds that keep us stuck.  Music reminds me of a river that flows to the sea, but if we dam the river it turns into a marsh or floods the valley.  We too need to unclog the river of our emotions so that they can flow into greater consciousness and allow us to evolve to our next level.  Music provides a powerful healing tool as it brings us messages of how to get unstuck and move forward.