Sunday, April 02, 2006

Music and the Meaning of Life

It has always been a mystery to me why music is so important to me and to others. Music reaches way down deep.

I led congregtional singing twice Sunday. Dorothy and I drove 80 miles north of here to a small church in Speedwell, TN. for a morning service there. The scenery of the rolling hills with the mountains as backdrop was oh so beautiful and comforting. Tonight I led at the West End Church of Christ. Several commented that I'd sung some of their favorites. That was my good fortune to have picked what so many wanted. Some remarked that they liked it because I picked older songs that they knew. One person said a new song to him was one he learned in college. I reckon that was about 30 years ago for him.

Yes, music is something that goes way deep inside of us. What we hear becomes part of us and even who we are. The music of our youth helps to form our personal identity. When I was a teenager, I don't believe they used Led Zeppelin or the Who music to sell cars or as introduction to television shows. Back then they used something more appropriate to the buyer's age group.

I once read about a doctor in Vienna who treated spinal injury patients. He claimed that playing music that was popular during a person's puberty produce noticeable effects in healing. It got their juices going in a special way that music from other era's in their could not. I read that twenty or so years ago and don't know if anyone has followed up on that but it rings true with me. The Beatles hit the scence as I was going through puberty and they and the other bands of the British Music invasion of the sixties stir things up inside me in a way that other music doesn't.

I love all kinds of music. Recently, I bought a couple of Lone Ranger episodes on DVD from Cracker Barrell just so I could hear the background music, the William Tell Overture and other pieces. An older man at church gave me a CD of his favorite: Dixieland music. It is great. Each type of music takes one to a different time and place. One can be transported there to smell the smells experience the scene. Reggae music can change one's mood after the first few beats and induce feelings of relaxation and ease. I could ramble on about the different feelings produced by different musics. I love classical. There just is too much good music to keep up with these days. I don't dislike Rap. I just haven't had much exposure too it. Can't Touch This by M. C. Hammer was a work of genius I thought. Too much music and so little time.

Yep music is important and I'm not sure why. Don't know how it has evolutionary value or how it arose in our brains. Exploring that issue could be fruitful for understanding the mind body problem. Who knows?


Rob said...

Wonderful comments!
One of my most comforting thoughts is of congregational singing. I remember as a child listening to the singing. I felt so safe, at home. It still makes me feel that way. Imagining all the family singing together makes me somewhat emotional. I wish we did it more.

Music has been my vacation from hospital and waiting rooms. It is has helped me handle pain, and discomfort. At night when the hospital was dark I would lie there and listen to my music. It would remind me of places I had been, people I had been with. It reminded me of times when my body felt well. I would use it as an anchor to tap into those places where I thought healing could be.
(New Age, Classical, Southern Gospel I love the Harmony!, Gospel, 70, 80's rock) Right now I'm listening to Native American flute.

I have done some reading on primordial sound meditation, and how some sounds can stimulate us neurologically. Some neurological patients have found mantras and mudras extremely beneficial in retaining or regaining motor function. (some awesome stories) It would be cool to do a study on brain responses to music. Have an EEG when you are listening to Mozart, Coldplay, Enya, Metallica, or MC Hammer. That Biofeedback game I have has some cool music.
Thanks for the post. Back to the Native American flute.

Thanks for

Rob said...

In regards to my question concerning physics and emergence, the question stems from my recent reading of A Different Universe (Reinventing Pysics From The Bottom Down) by Robert B Laughlin. The heart of his thesis centers on the reductionist vs emergence argument. Have you read him or heard of him? I suppose that his thoughts are at least thought-provoking if not controversial. But ,as I have said before, not being well rooted in physics thought I should ask someone who knows much more.

Steve said...


I haven't been reading "Physics Today" magazine in recent years. That's one place to learn about trends in the physics community. I'll have to scan some back copies to see if this in on the table so to speak. Haven't had much time this morning or yesterday evening to think much more on this. I did notice that Laughlin is 2 days older than me.

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