usic has ever been integral to social, cultural and religious ethos of mankind. In wintry nights early men gathered around fire, danced and sang in accompaniment to music as a refreshing relief from drudgery of diurnal life. This energised them to take up next day’s tasks with verve and cheer. “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life,” said German-Jewish author Berthold Auerbach. The immense, abstruse potential of music has been widely used to pacify turbulent minds and souls. Till a few decades ago, mothers sang lullabies, enabling their nagging children to sleep. Most endearing to us is the sound of our favourite music.
A line in John Dryden’s poem, A Song for St. Cecilia’s Day, “What passion cannot music raise and quell?” appears to be the unwritten guiding principle of healers, motivators, preachers, marketing professionals. Understanding the charismatic impact of music, the businessman uses, rather abuses musical power to sell his products, leader to woo voters, religious guru to captivate devotees and magician to mesmerise the crowd. No festivity or celebration is considered complete without musical inputs of some description. When bangs from a band or other instrument trigger the soldiers at war front, their dormant strength coming to fore, they exert their best and defeat the enemy. Without knowing Bhupen Hazarika’s wording, “Dil hoom hoom kare…”, one is overwhelmed with romantic ecstasy and reflexively driven to the exotic land. In contemporary society fraught with conflict, discord, fragmentation, suspicion and misunderstanding, love for music implies faith in an order that can assuage the omnipresent mental and emotional hurts.
The mystique surrounding music can be attributed to its divine origin. One theory about origin of universe says, it all began with music, “From harmony, from heavenly harmony, this universal frame begun.” So, in Indian culture a God or Goddess is often depicted holding a certain musical instrument: lord Shiva with Damaru, Saraswati with Veena, Krishna with Bansuri. Not just that; words are believed to have evolved by symbolically codifying each differently emanated sound beat of Damaru played by Shiva. The mystic element in music is in sync with essentially divine nature of man. Ringing of bells, playing of musical instruments or chanting mantras during Hindu rituals serves to invoke higher powers that bless the devotees. “The vibrations in the air are the breath of God speaking to man’s soul,” said Ludwig van Beethoven.
The magical power of music has been personally attested by Napolean Hill in ‘You Can Work Your Own Miracles’ in the case of his son born without ears who, the doctors declared, shall never be able to hear all his life. The author took it as challenge, and restored his hearing capacity to thirty per cent in few months, a dream come true at which same doctors wondered. He did it by reciting music to the sleeping child for months, thus inculcating in him the craving to listen to it. With time, his hearing capacity improved consistently.
By drifting one from depressing, frustrating and negative thoughts, music rejuvenates mind, body and spirits, lets us visualise feelings we never cherished in past. Spiritual rejuvenation apart, enormous health benefits of music in correcting emotional, psychic and physiological disorders are uncontroversial. By triggering endorphin formation, music creates ‘feel good’ effect, boosts immunity and minimises dependence on drugs, particularly pain killers. It makes one happier, enhances performance, wards off anxiety, improves concenration and strengthens learning and memory. Studies have demonstrated clear improvements of musical intervention in autism, schizophrenia, frozen parts in Parkinson’s and several mental diseases. Also, participation in community celebrations with music joins hearts, so direly needed today.
Music served as handy modality to bring succour to the home-bound conditions during lockdown period by alleviating the ennui of people and keeping them constructively engaged. “Music is moonlight in the gloomy night of life”, said Jean Paul. Wide exchange of popular movie songs of yore or favourite bhajans through social media helped people keep their poise. A suggested area in music research is exploring new techniques for human welfare.
The author writes on health, spiritual and social issues.