|Nymphs Listening To The Songs of Orpheus, by |
Charles François Jalabert
Just as people sometimes self-medicate for conditions such as depression, they also use music to self-regulate their emotional states. Conversely, the music that pops unbidden into your head can be an indicator of your emotional state, a window into the soul revealing content of which you may not have been consciously aware (Earl Vickers, Music and Consciousness).
As far back as I can remember, music has been a major aspect of my life. My parents played music constantly on the stereo system. Two of my uncles played guitar, as well as my paternal grandfather. My brother and I learned to play guitar when I was about fifteen; he was ten. I was fortunate to be born in the age of technology, where I could lie in bed bed at night and listen to my little compact transistor radio. I recognized very early that my moods could be altered by listening to music.
Consciousness consists of a wide spectrum of moods and phases, which fluctuate constantly. I go through phases where my mind leaps with ideas to write about, usually something philosophical or psychological that I find intriguing. During this kind of phase, I am interested in very little else other than writing about what’s on my mind. I listen to music, but very little. At other times, I experience an intense desire for music, as much as I can fit into the day. This phase seems to be correlated with tougher life experiences, which very much include the experiencing of melancholy. The music is needed to help me cope with the hard times of life. This is why teenagers love music so much; it helps them through one of the most difficult periods on the human experience. I couldn’t have survived my teenage years without music. No way.
Music actually changes our conscious experience. It is just as sacred an experience as religious ritual. Most religions use music in their rituals because they know it transforms consciousness and propels us into Soulish realms. My audio setup and listening environment is like a shrine where holy things are brought forth.
Consciousness consists of a wide continuum of mental states, constantly changing in direction and focus. Music, like mind, is ephemeral, mercurial, always in motion, often flitting from one insubstantial thought to the next. Sometimes a single phrase can be evocative of a certain mental state. For example, in the Beatles song “A Day in the Life,” the wordless vocals following the phrase “somebody spoke, and I went into a dream” evoke an image of someone falling into a dream or trance state (ibid.).
What is it about music that changes us and enables us to travel to other planes of existence?
The gods enter our consciousness through art. Imagination is the realm of the gods and we enter it through artistic experiences, such as listening to music. Of course, the better the art, the more powerful the gods’ influence upon us. For me, the more surreal the lyrics, the more my imagination is animated. I think it is because the rational mind is being totally bypassed. The unconscious mind knows exactly what is occurring; the rational mind, not so much.
More than any other malady, depression can steal one of Soul. Music is an infusion of Soul. Music is the best medicine I know of for depression and there are no side-effects.
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