The Music of the Spheres – Part 2

Here is the second part of my reflections

on the nature of music, and the part that it plays in my own life.

I have thought quite a bit about what it is that makes music able to calm us, to stir us up, to cheer us.  All of us seem to respond to at least one type of music – some people enjoy classical music.  Some prefer a country song, others are rooted in the folk music of the sixties.  Certain songs rouse our emotions, call up a particular memory.  We use music to worship, to celebrate, and to mourn.

I was often unhappy as a young person.  When particularly distressed I used to listen to one particular piece, Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D major (opus 61). As soon as I heard the beginning notes I felt calmed and comforted.  The last movement, with its positive notes, would lift my spirits and I would begin to feel joy.

What is it that happens when we listen to music?  I believe that music stimulates brain patterns.  The progression of notes echoes in the pathways of our brains – the music leads us up or down, but we are always waiting for that final note, that resolution.  Even when the music moves unexpectedly, when notes are deliberately discordant, we still wait for that perfect completeness.

Lately I have seen another aspect of music – music as meditation.  When listening to music we are concentrating on the notes; our head space is not jumbled with thoughts and emotions all competing for our attention.  When we are stressed or upset, music provides us with a neutral space, almost a safe house on the path of our journey.  Our bodies need to rest when we are exhausted and drained, and our minds need to rest as well.