“If music be the food of love, play on.”
FEW things reach the depths of the heart of man like music.
Known as the universal language, music has soothed and healed souls over generations. Have you tried music's therapy, especially amid all the noise surrounding the novel coronavirus?
How powerful is music? Let's look first at the power the Greeks accorded it, being the ones who gifted the word to the English language.
The power of music in myth
Music is derived from “Muses”, the goddesses of literature, science, and the arts. The Greeks, to whom much of Western civilisation owes its knowledge, tell of music's power in myths — a body of hyperbolical stories with timeless lessons.
Zeus, Ancient Greece's most powerful god, condemns Ixion to an unstoppable wheel of fire in Hades, the underworld. Orpheus, the greatest of all musicians, ventures there to rescue his wife. Upon playing his music he had Cerberus, the vicious three-headed dog, subdued and, for the first time ever, the wheels of Ixion stopped.
Other tales are told of trees picking up their roots to follow after his legendary music.
A notable power in music is also seen today in its effect on health and wellness.
Tuning music to health
COVID-19 has cast much panic, fear, and anxiety upon humans. These negative emotions cause us to lose our better judgement and weaken our resolve.
Music may calm our fears and give the needed push to go on. This is because when we hear music we like, the brain releases a chemical called dopamine that has positive effects on mood. In reality, it lessens the effect bad emotions have on our bodies, as it amplifies the good.
1. Stress — Relaxing music, often with a slow tempo and low pitch, has calmed the nerves of people with health issues or who are undergoing medical procedures.
2. Anxiety — Arts and Health published a study in 2013 revealing how cancer patients who got standard care and music therapy showed less anxiety than those who got standard care alone.
3. Pain — Music's calming effect may sedate pain. One study shows that people who listen to music before, during, and after surgery had less pain and greater comfort than those who didn't.
4. Lethargy — Inspirational music and upbeat tempos have given many a pep in one's step, given the ability of such music to fight laziness and slumber, which having to stay home in these times may cause.
1. Mood — Listening to music has an effect on overall mood and level of happiness, since it regulates emotions and relaxes the mind.
2. Cognition — Music can help improve mental abilities and holds benefits for people threatened with memory loss and other degenerative illnesses of the mind.
3. Expression — Have you ever wanted to express your emotions and only a song could do it? Yes, some music fight loneliness and allows you to better verbalise emotions.
4. Exercise — This is so beneficial to humans but may require much self-motivation. Tuning in to your favourite music can provide the needed drive to work up a sweat.
Music and song are endless, choose well, for music can be both a force for good and bad.
And, being ever mindful that people's musical tastes vary we must tone it down and not disturb others.
Amid all the buzz these disturbing times bring may we fine-tune our health and add a little music to fondle our souls.
Warrick Lattibeaudiere (PhD), a minister of religion for the past 22 years, lectures full-time in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Technology, Jamaica.