The Essence of Life?

Sometimes, it’s not the song that makes you emotional, it’s the people and things that come to mind when you hear it. – Tiesto.

It is very unlikely that every human culture across time has not enjoyed the elation of listening to music. Even the secluded indigenous tribes, that has limited contact with modern society, has its own form of music performed during their rituals, invariably accompanied by dance. There is no concrete evidence to show exactly when and how music came about to be one of the most essential form of expression and entertainment within our lives. However, there are evidences of music being a part of cultures in our ancient past.

 

“Music is the easiest method of meditation. Whoever can let himself dissolve into music has no need to seek anything else to dissolve into.” – Osho

In 1995, a discovery was made deep within a cave in Slovenia that was occupied by the Neanderthals. A flute was found, made from the femur bone of a cave bear, that was dated to be approximately 45,000 years to 80,000 years old. The flute, according to musicologist Bob Fink, has four finger holes that matches four notes of a diatonic scale (i.e. Do, re, mi). The Slovenian National Museum even had a clay replica of the flute made which was played by the musician, Ljuben Dimakaroski. Archaeologists have also discovered primitive musical instruments that dated approximately 12,000 years ago that includes scrapers, which produce a rhythmic scratchy sound, and rattles. These are strong evidences of how music has played an important role in moulding our cultures even till today. Music has been used in a lot of different application throughout our past. From the call to arms, rituals, ceremonies, to just plain entertainment, music is known to be one of the most universal form of expression of being human.

In the recent article written by Clara Moskowitz from Space.com, Researchers informed, during the SETIcon in 2010, that Extraterrestrial Civilisation will most likely be interested in our arts and music rather than our technological advances. They further explained that if contact were to be made by them, their level of technology would have surpassed ours. We will probably have very little to teach them in terms of mathematics and science. However, our music and arts, which are profoundly and singularly human, would pose to be much more interesting to them. Read more on this article here.

“There are certain things that have universal attributes, like music. Something of greater magnitude is conveyed by them. They connect us with the universal storehouse of life and knowledge.” — Swami Paramananda

How about the science of music? There are a few studies done to show the benefits of experiencing and learning music. Researchers at the University of Vermont College of medicine, using a database produced by the National Institutes of Health Magnetic Resonance (MRI) study of Normal Brain Development, analysed and studied brain scans of 232 healthy children and teenagers. They are aged between 6 and 18 and the main goal is to specifically study the brain development of children and teenagers who play a musical instrument. The research team found that the more a child or teenager is trained on an instrument, the more it accelerated the cortical organisation in anxiety management, emotional control and attention skill. You can read more on this study here. Mood and Music are also closely interrelated. Listening to a certain type of music changes the mood which will not only affect how you feel, it will also change your perception. Another study, done by researcher Jacob jolij and Maaike Meurs of the Psychology Department of University of Groningen, shows that music has an even more drastic effect on perception; people sometimes will still see happy faces when they are listening to happy music and sad faces vice versa. This research suggest that the brain builds up expectations on the basis of our experiences and mood as well. Read more on the research here.

Below is the info-graph of the different parts of the brain on music.

Even with the explanation above, it creates only a generalised view of how music affects a person’s brain. Music typically also affects the mood, emotions, creativity and also personality of a person.
Here is an article written by Bell Beth Cooper on some of the amazing effects of music to our brains.

There are a number of musicians that truly believed that their composition, were guided by the divine. Ludwig Van Beethovan was a great and inspiring composer and pianist. His hearing started deteriorating during his 30s and he became almost totally deaf in the last decade of his life. However, he continued composing and many of his most admired work was composed within the last 15 years of his life. He typically refused to take credit for his music. “I have a gift that people say comes from god. I believe it to be true” – Ludwig Van Beethovan. Music has also been known to have a healing effect toward psychological disorder. Research have shown that by adding music therapy to mental health treatment, it improves the symptoms and social functioning among schizophrenics. Read more on the research here. Music therapy has also demonstrated efficacy as an independant treatment for reducing depression, anxiety and chronic pain.

“Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.” – Ludwig van Beethoven

If broken down to the most simplest form, music is basically vibrations that occur or are created in variations of different patterns composed as a form of human expression. Our ears are indeed only a part of the highly complex vibrational processing system. Just like every other sense, we tend to filter and examine these vibrations on the lower level of operations within our brain, before advancing into our consciousness as sound or music. As defined in Wiki, Music is an art form, social activity or cultural activity whose medium is sound and silence. This shows that music, is basically interpreted, individually and its effects on an individual differs from the various reality of experiences and perception. Music is indeed a form of human expression that has enveloped our known reality, and within its vibrations, patterns and sequences, lies a deep understanding of our profound self which connects us to a higher form of understanding and being. Music is everywhere yet nowhere to be found. It is in our essence of life, a vibration that not only resonates infinitely within, but throughout the cosmos as well. In it we find sadness, grief, despair, hope, understanding, beliefs, dreams, aspirations and even divinity. All matter is a vibration in a structure of space and time and our lives are just notes within the symphony of life.

“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” – Plato

Article written by Fariq Yusoff

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