Wednesday, November 11, 2015

My Love Affair...with Music

Wikipedia
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)

Wikipedia
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.

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