Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Expressing the inexpressible

"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." ~ Aldous Huxley

That quote is one of my favorites. I am, first and foremost, a writer. Learning to read at a very early age, I can remember very clearly being constantly captivated by words, what they meant, how they sounded, how they were spelled, how they communicated. Little wonder, then, that eventually I became equally captivated by music and lyrics wound together. I have worked in many places over the years where music was part of the overall environment and it never failed to amaze me how many co-workers went about their daily existence completely numbed out and unaware of the music. I have learned over the years another curious thing - that many people don't tend to really pay much attention to lyrics. They listen more to the melody or the beat of the song, echoing the old words of American Bandstand's Rate The Song, "it has a good beat and is easy to dance to." This isn't so much an important thing; not all music contains lyrics to catch the ear on a deeper level. And no, I don't believe that I enjoy music more deeply or better than others; I just think I experience it in a different manner. Those differences, as always, prompted me to start thinking, then start researching....

I believe that music touches us all on a very elemental level. Think about your memories of growing up and invariably, a song comes to mind. Hear an old song playing on the radio and I am willing to bet you can remember the year it played, the fashions worn, where you lived, who you loved and other astonishingly tiny details of life at that particular moment....all prompted by a song. We make memories with music, of this, I am certain.

The next interesting point is the growing presence of the use of music for therapeutic purposes. On a very mundane note, if you have ever had your heart broken, you know this truth - every sad song you hear on the radio seems to be speaking directly to your poor broken heart. I believe that scientists and therapists have only scratched the surface of the concept of using music as a healing device, but occasionally I will run across some fascinating research being done on the subject.

Years ago, around the time that the Human Genome Project was being completed, I remember watching an episode of what I think may have been 20/20. A young scientist had painstakingly spent time mapping the human DNA/RNA strands and matching them up in some obscure manner to the musical scale. He then fed all of this data into a computer program along with all the great works of classical music. Applying yet one more layer of coding into his program to identify a wide range of medical maladies, his results were fascinating. He found that certain noted classical music compositions matched up identically with the genetic makeup of certain cancers. The one that I remember specifically was that Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata," was the perfect genetic match musically to a virulent, deadly strain of cancer. This scientist's hypothesis was that the great composers somehow inherently keyed into these harmonics and produced musical works that would someday become tools for healing on a vibrational level. How fascinating is that?!

I remember sitting there, just spellbound by this concept. From just a general musing, perhaps one might think that the correct music to rid the body of an aggressive type of cancer would need to be an equally aggressive composition. Something warlike and full of pounding drums, crashing cymbals and intense rhythms. "Moonlight Sonata" actually begins the First Movement with a slow, haunting melody that is so gentle and soft it forces the listener to become still and pay attention. The Second and Third Movements pick up tempo and do become more forceful, but the overall tone of this composition is very slow, soft and gentle. Perhaps the therapeutic value is some vibrational manner of slowing our breathing down in response to the music, eliciting a light hypnotic or meditative state that then shifts inward on a cellular level? My own musings entirely, but it makes sense to me in a strange way.

I wondered at the inspiration for this unutterably beautiful piece of music and did some research. It turns out the original title of the composition was "Almost A Fantasy" and was written as an ode of love to one of Beethoven's students. He later proposed marriage to this lady, but her father refused his permission. How curiously apropo that so many years later, modern science could cobble together the fact that this beautiful musical work of art could, just possibly, be successfully applied to heal a dread disease in the human body. Music written to express love being capable of curing illness. What a concept! Now, mind you, this isn't anything I can document - it is strictly my memories of a 20/20 episode many, many years ago, but it has stuck in my head over the years.

I became a massage therapist in the mid-1990's and had a strong affinity to the overall concept of healing arts. While I no longer work as a massage therapist, that training deepened my interest in medical issues, concepts and applications and how they can be complemented by esoteric, Eastern based philosophies. I find that the more I search, the more that modern medicine, modern science and alternative healing therapies are becoming interchangable and recognized to be beneficial when married together. Perhaps one day in the not-too-distant future, the work of that young scientist will resurface and musical therapy will become commonplace. I see many lightworkers in the healing arts who are using music therapy in their practices now, although it is still a little known concept. It makes complete sense to me that it should, and can work.

How lucky are we to be born into a world full of complex textures, sites and sounds that fill up our senses in myriad ways? Music, then, becomes a part of who we are.

Thomas Carlyle said, "If you look deep enough, you will see music; the heart of nature being everywhere music."

Whether music is a background enjoyment for you, or whether you are like I am and tend to climb right inside the lyrics and music and experience them on a different level, music speaks to us all. It lifts us up, it calms us down. It weeps with us in moments of deep sorrow. It celebrates life's best, brightest victories. And perhaps, it can, and does heal with the softest, melodic touch on our bodies, on a vibrational level that is painless. This is one to continue to ponder on my end, as well as to continue to research. If anyone reading this blog entry knows of details regarding that scientist's work I mentioned, I'd love to know more. For now, I leave you with yet another quote...

"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent." ~ Victor Hugo

No comments:

Post a Comment