Friday, November 20, 2015

Whole Music--Purpose Versus Musical Genre

found on Wikipedia
When I first started researching the healing power of music I thought that only certain genres radiated healing vibrations. I thought this even though evidence came in the form of new age music that left me feeling cold, and rock or pop music that lifted my spirits or raised my energy level so that I could accomplish a task. Yet, there was another ingredient that came along that intrigued me--intent.

It's similar to the person who acts like a saint out in the community but hasn't dealt with their shadows. They wear the right labels, do the right deeds, and hand out hugs like candy to children. But you some times have to wonder about the real intent behind their deeds--is it to collect more kudos, earn recognition with some community honor or award, or are they giving from their heart?

Let's think about how this relates to music because musical genres really are arbitrary--and I tell you this after interviewing hundreds of musical artists and reviewing over a thousand recordings in music journalism career that spanned over 25 years and included radio, online, and print journalism. As a musician, I also collaborated with musicians and I have some musical training under my belt, as they say. And the conclusion that I'm reaching is that the healing power of music begins with the intent of the musician or musicians.

While it's true that certain music lends itself better to relaxing and enjoyment while getting a massage or other type of healing, we have several states of mind required to get us through our lives. And one of those is alertness which new age or Native American flute music isn't going to help much with, even if those types of music lend to a better energy healing or meditation experience. But try driving long distance listening to relaxation music--not a good idea.

And then that brings us to the definition of healing. What are we trying to heal? Are we healing an addiction and what type of addiction and what's the root cause or belief behind the addiction? Are we unblocking anger, getting over grief, or empowering ourselves for a job interview or career change? Many times when we think about healing it revolves around physical or emotional healing, and sometimes soul healing, but even those healing experiences deal with darker emotions and so sometimes we have to at least listen to a sad song briefly to release stuck emotions.

"Playing For Change logo" by Pfc_logo.jpg: Frenciscobcnderivative work: WebHamster (talk) - Pfc_logo.jpg. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons -
This doesn't mean that we don't pay attention to text. Dark text is still dark text and vibrates at a low energy which can also leave us stuck in darkness and despair. So words matter, as does musical contour. The key the music is in matters, the tone, and the performance all matter as we embark on a healing path or offer healing to others. But even more so, the musician's intent matters. Even pop musicians are capable of writing healing songs during a world or personal crisis. Think of the fundraising songs from the 1980s for the famines in African for instance or the musical collectives performing pop songs under the guise of Playing for Change.

Soul music is considered pop music, yet there are roots in the Black Church (African-American church as in gospel music and spirituals), as well as, West Africa, Brazil and other parts of Latin America. And sometimes dance offers healing and we require the right music for the job whether that is the tangos of Astor Piazzolla, salsa of the Puerto Ricans and Cubans, or soul music. I leave out disco tunes since they just provide musical chaos with all those manufactured beats. Disco reminds me too much of drugs, promiscuous sex, and the narcissism of the Me Decade. However, funk tells another story which has solid roots in the African-American and Latin American experience.

Don't get me wrong, I still feel that the music represented on this blog works for healing purposes and on individual levels especially. I'm still concerned about the musical vibrations we send out to the planet and some of the messaging in those songs which I find damaging to the planet. Hatred is never the answer and that is the lowest intent of all as is spreading fear in the world. Purposeful musicians I would hope align themselves with love and peace while staying mindful of their own moods and beliefs. No one is perfect, but we are evolving.

If you would like to comment on this topic, feel free. I'm open to dialogue about healing the world through music.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Music Experiment (Swinging Moods)

I'm going to include 5 music videos here from different genres. Please listen to or watch the videos with headphones and keep track of the changing of your moods. If you keep a music diary, then write down your emotions and physical effects to the various tracks.

Be aware of nostalgic memories, mood you began with, attitudes towards certain genres, and it's best to close your eyes while listening, at least one time through the process. Watching the video will dilute the effect of listening to the music.

This exercise is to track moods caused by musical vibration. Notice timbre, chords, scales, contours of the melodies or harmonies. If you're a trained musicians this will be easier, but we can all do it.

First here is a track by the rock band R.E.M who at this time was more folk and acoustic sounding. This is off the band's first EP, Chronic Town.

Second, we're going to listen to the French swing band Paris Combo, a bouncy song called Living Room.

Third, we'll listen to a folk anthem cover performed by the 10,000 Maniacs

Fourth, will listen to a track by Miles Davis off his Kind of Blue album

And finally, we'll listen to a classical piece by Claude Debussy.

Some of the tracks have text which cause us to visualize scenarios while other tracks are instrumental so just use your imagination. However, remember to track your moods.