Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Musical Diet

Let’s be clear about music, its purpose is to infiltrate the human conscious, to take one to another place, and ultimately, to express the most inner longings of the soul. This is what people strive for when they listen to music, and it’s what they strive for when they make it. We can liken music to a drink or perhaps to something in the air; listening to music is like drinking a beverage from a glass or taking a breath, putting the substance inside of you and subsequently making it a part of you. Similar to the way a beverage or something in the air has an effect on the body, music has an effect on the listener’s soul, which is essentially the reason we listen to music in the first place.

Before choosing a beverage from the shelf of a store, most people look at the nutrition facts to make sure if it is something that they really should be putting in their bodies (it would benefit me to adopt this practice). The amount of sugar, calories, fat, etc, become factors in choosing the drink. Now if the body is important to the human experience, imagine just how much more important the soul is to the human experience, and if one is going to choose what substances to put in the body, one should also be choosy on what materials to put into the soul – music in this case.

We can’t deny the effect of music on the soul, especially considering that musicians and lyricists usually compose music during moments of inspiration, be they happy, sad, extremely angry, etc… Consequently, whatever they put out is what goes in (to the listener); whatever emotions or messages the singer is externalizing, the listener will internalize. Would you eat something if you didn’t know what was in it? The truth is that if the listener is not internalizing the emotions and message of the music, then he or she is not really experiencing the music properly; its design is to move, and as long as the point is to internalize it, it is healthy to internalize healthy music.

The way I see it, many things help define what makes music healthy. The message is definitely important, but sometimes the very sounds made or the way the singer sings are just as influential. Instruments are an extension of the human voice, which is a vessel for the soul to externalize its innards; therefore instruments are also used to express the soul. Since most sounds are universally understood, even across cultural boundaries, certain sounds affect listeners in certain ways; drums universally make people want to dance, for example. If the voice or instrumentation is angry, chances are the listener will be affected in a similar way, and usually the lyrics are just as angry as the music, and the same is true when the music is happy. A voice is a type of instrument in itself, even if the language is not understood, the tone of the music can be understood quite easily; this is a testament to the universality of music.

The Process of Music

The message, the voice, and the music all leave a residue on the listener, and have a very effective way of altering moods and ultimately affecting the status of the soul. If these components (message, voice, music) combine to make something good, or healthy, or pure, or clean, then the effect they have on the person will be equally as good and the person will have a positive reaction to the music. If day-by-day one has a healthy diet of music (or any influencing factors for that matters), then rest assured that the soul will reflect what it consumes and will create for a general feeling of well-being. It's not just music that affects a person in this way, but everything else that she or he chooses to be surrounded by or to internalize.

The Opposite is Also True

*Note: the effect of spiritually and mentally unhealthy music. No joke, I have seen this happen to people!

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