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.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Journey into Music Consciousness

When I grew up surrounded by music I had no concept of consciousness. Like many people I meet these days I listened to any type of music that came my way and I melded with it. I understand staying open to diversity, however, not all music leads us on the path to wholeness and healing.

My mother tells me that she played music for my siblings and me while we swam in the womb and then later during our development years. Sitting on my mother's bed, I fell into trances as music from my mother's favorite radio station drifted into the room. But I still didn't know about music consciousness. Information about music and the brain hadn't arrived yet, and no one was thinking of music as a healing balm even if we felt better listening to it while we slept in bed recovering from the flu.

These days we have ample information about the brain and music, hospice care and music, as well as, healing in music. Drummers start drumming circles as a way of building community, celebrating diversity, and allowing us to connect with our primal instincts while healing our root chakras. Most people I would imagine feel safe in the sanctity of a drum circle or in a room of dancing people all connected to the heartbeat of Mother Earth. It's hard to drum and not smile at the same time. Drumming brings relief.

Before I developed self-consciousness, I could walk up to any piano or instrument and play it without worry about whether that sounded good or not. Prior to developing critical skills I saw music as play and I enjoyed it immensely as any young child would. No one told me that I couldn't carry a tune and no one told me back then that I had no sense of rhythm. One of my favorite toys (though it didn't last long) was a set of plastic orchestra instruments. I was around 4 or 5 years of age, learning the difference between a trumpet and a French horn. I also remember some children playing with toy xylophones (I wanted one).

As I grew older, I immersed myself in pop culture and became a trivia expert about pop musicians, but deep down I thought of them as saviors. They articulated the experiences that I had no words for at that time. I suffered from depression and angst and not knowing the Law of Attraction yet, I mistook listening to moody songs as a healing balm. But did this lead me to thinking like a victim? Music consciousness had still not arrived on the scene, nor was I spiritually aware yet.

Then in the midst of my life as a folk rock musician who obsessed over the moody and melancholy music (think the label 4 A.D.), a woman approached me while I was visiting a spiritual shop. She asked me what I did. I told her I was a rock musician and I might of well have pooped on the floor given the expression on her face. "Don't you know that you are spreading negative  vibes in the world?" Was this the same as spreading cooties on a playground? While I was taken back by this lady, and I think I defended myself, I didn't give it much thought and I continued on my life journey towards music consciousness.

Then the late Masaru Emoto came along with his water crystals which he exposed to different types of music. While reviewing one of his books, I felt chills running up and down my spine. Gazing at the exquisite crystals, tears rolled down my face and I had awakened but then what? What do you do when you awaken to music consciousness while everyone else in the proverbial gym snored next to me? I tried shouting the message, but that just caused people to shun me. I tried blogging the message and that reached a few people, but not many. I sneaked in metaphysics into my world music reviews, and then later classical music reviews and that went okay. Then I created this blog and then wrote a scholarly book (not published at this time).

Now, I hear that publishers aren't looking for any books on music consciousness because they claim there is no interest. Is this true? How can we have lost the glistening thread when music is accredited to saving lives, changing lives, building bridges between cultures, giving people spiritual respite and taking people on the journey into the next world (hospice care)? What about all the brain-music science touted on PBS and in books by Oliver Sacks and Daniel Levitin? What about the Mozart Effect, sound healing, and music therapy which continues to attract new practitioners? Are we going to turn our backs before we awaken the planet with music?

If you would like to see the publication of my book Whole Music, join me on Twitter, Google+, Linked In and follow this blog.  Let's start some meaningful dialogues regarding awakening with music.