Music Sounds that Describe Us.
by Claudia Madrazo
Music is always with us. Just three months in our mother’s womb, and we can already hear it, allowing us to connect with two worlds: our own inner one and the outside. Music, therefore, affected us even before birth. Once we are born and become aware, we start creating sounds, at first produced only with the tools provided by our own body and later with those we find both in nature and the world at large. We sing, move, thump, scream… Most importantly, we figure out a way to express ourselves. Music Speaks We use music to express emotions, feelings and thoughts. It is a far more basic, richer and more universal language than words. With it, we can understand each other, stripped of masks and regardless of age, culture or religion. Through our sense of hearing, we receive external messages capable of reaching our innermost selves: a few simple chords can either make us smile or mentally re-create a series of nostalgic images. There are all kinds of music: joyful, mournful, powerful, defiant, peaceful, introspective and exuberant; music that provokes laughter or tears, music for love, euphoria and passion. Therapeutic Harmony Music heals the body. Its therapeutic effect on different ailments was discovered in ancient times. Today, music therapy has further developed this traditional practice and become a powerful tool for treating motor and coordination problems, drug addiction and other conditions. Because Pythagoras, the mathematic philosopher, believed that music had a beneficial influence on the soul, it was used for medicinal purposes. His followers hold that the equilibrium in the notes creates another type of harmony that has repercussions on physical and mental health. Music is especially effective for individuals with depression, psychosis or autism and also proves to be extremely uplifting, helping people express themselves and give vent to their feelings. The Role of Music in History Human beings discovered a spiritual and transcendent meaning in music which led them to create, magnify and develop rituals and customs. The Mexica had special places, called cuicacalli (houses of song), for music education, where priests and musicians, who enjoyed a privileged status, spent their time composing music and supervising the chants dedicated to the gods. Musical education at an early age was vital to the Greeks, since they believed it contributed to producing well-balanced, disciplined citizens. It was held in such high esteem that a well-educated individual was called “musical” while “unmusical” described the uncultured person. In the Greek pantheon, Apollo was the embodiment of music turned divine, while Euterpe was the muse of the flute and Orpheus the musician who entranced humans, gods and animals with his music; even making the stones dance in delight! In ancient China, Confucius believed that moral strength was the axis of human life and that music was the blossom of that force. He claimed that its loss or corruption was the sign of a culture in decadence. The Chinese firmly believed in the power of music to generate harmony in whoever heard it and love in the homes where it was played. For them, musical instruments were links to the divine. In certain present-day societies, there is still a close cultural relationship with music. Nigeria’s Anang tribe exposes its children to music when they are barely a week old. At the age of two, they already sing, dance and play instruments and perfect these skills as they grow. In Japan and other countries, Dr. Sinichi Suzuki’s unique music teaching method has exerted a tremendous influence on children. He maintains that they can learn to play an instrument when they are merely three, just as they learn language, by hearing and through practice. Powerful Bonds Music is a vehicle that links our inner and exterior worlds. It comes from outside, filters into our ears and touches them to stimulate our brains, infusing our minds with energy and spurring us on. Once this is accomplished, it penetrates deep into the very fibers of our being, identifying with our feelings and emotions, connecting us to beauty and radically altering us. Music is our connection to the world and to others, but most of all to ourselves b When you have trouble saying what you feel or think, make up lyrics and set them to music. You don’t have to be an expert musician; just experiment and play around with the idea. You will discover a brand new means of expression. When you listen to music, let your body choose the movements; let yourself go by fusing music and dance. Think back on the different stages in your life, and put them to the music that went with those times. Try to remember the odors, flavors and textures you perceived. It is like absorbing a photo album through hearing. Encourage your children to play an instrument or listen to music, especially in their early years. Some studies suggest that this will aid their concentration, math abilities and language learning. There is music for different situations, activities, moods and ages. Try listening to and defining how different kinds of music work for you.
Use the power of music to improve your mood. If you’re sad, choose sounds that will move you to dance and sing. If you’re going through a tense time, listen to relaxing music that lets you set your worries aside.