This is an essay on the effect that music has in our mood, stress, and state of mind. focused on the United States.
Why do we feel the same way almost every day? We wake up every morning usually at the same time, and then we go about performing the same activities all day, every day. Things appear non-changing and time is just ticking away from our present.
American society has always been fast moving and productive. Economic development spurred in a glimpse of human history. however, a side effect came along with the economic power. During the last couple of decades, American mood and mentality started to shift towards a negative area of psychology. Stress and unhappiness levels drastically rose, and continue to rise today. We are continuously exposed to bad news about war and terrorism, and the economy, once a source of pride, is now stumbling. Pretty much anything we listen to is becoming a source of worries and stress. As a consequence many people live in a state of numbness, stress, and depression.
Drug companies have multiplied in the last decade and every week we stumble into an advertisement on TV about the newest “ultimate” drug that will make you feel energized, active, and happy. Nevertheless, pharmaceutical companies end up earning big money, and people remain stressed out and depressed.
There is an alternative. The stress occasioned by the industrial society in America does not have a cure within the same system. An alternative natural source of positive energy is, and has been, available to us; we just have to understand it. The source of energy I am talking about is Music. The proper use of Music will let us cope with our daily routines and worries by opening us to see them from a different, more positive perspective. Music, if properly used, is potentially the cure for stress, depression, and unhappiness.
We have all experienced the effects of music. We remember what we felt when we were dancing with the person we love to the sound of a song. We can remember our experience in a concert that gave us a sense of peace and tranquility. But there is something hidden in the art of music that we currently underestimate, mainly because we do not know it.
Dictionaries define “music” as the “art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color.” Expressing emotions has a significant value to what music can achieve. I am a musician and, as others musician, I know how it feels when music goes through you. Playing music energizes me with whatever emotion the song I am playing carries. Also, to be able to perform any song properly I need to inhabit the emotion originaly intended by the author. Playing music is a different experience than just listening to it. A musician is a carrier-manipulator of that energy and the listener is a receiver-manipulated individual. Music is a source of stimulation for the brain.
Think about the following illustration. A tree is part of nature, and as we learn the science behind a tree we understand the tree gives us oxygen, therefore trees are good for our lives. Music works the same way. As we learn the science behind the wavelengths of music, we understand that they bring properties that stimulate our brain to reach a different state of mind.
Around 600 B.C. Pythagoras discovered a pattern in sound waves that he called “Octaves.” These patterns represented a set of vibratory waves that produced what we now refer to as “musical scales of notes.” This discovery is important because it was the first scientific proof that music is an inherent element of life itself. It is a property of our reality.
Certainly, not all music is useful to successfully treat unhappiness and stress in a person; a proper melody needs to comply with certain requirements in order to have a positive effect on someone’s mentality and mood. In my opinion, there are three characteristics peaceful music should have. These are an unbalance between the distribution of instruments and vocals, in other words there should be much more instrumental and less words in a song; words of the song should have a positive message towards life, love, and nature; and the beat of the music should be down- to mid- tempo, given that upbeat music accelerate brainwaves into a more stressed state of mind instead of a more peaceful-happy one.
The uneven distribution of words and instruments is important, because words are not music. Words in a song are an integration of our cultural communication skills, and although words may reflect emotions, they are not the emotions themselves being transmitted through the instrumental melody. Therefore, instrumental melody is the ultimate form of music, and the more of it we have in a song, the more effective the emotional connection is.
Certainly, a song with the right words can enhance the power of music. Currently, the music industry is overflooded with what I call “junk music.” Since their primary concern is to make profit, producers are careless about the levels of stress. As a consequence, the market is flooded with catchy melodies with pointless and shallow lyrics. If you think about it, the words you listen to in a song will have an effect on your mind and behavior. Positive words towards life, nature, and love are effective to counterbalance high levels of stress and depression.
Music stimulates our minds. As commonly perceived, metal rock tends to stimulate anger in listeners, on the other hand, classical music is known for stimulating learning. Following this further, we have to know that there is a type of music that stimulates happiness and relaxation, and other that stimulates stress and anger. The importance of being aware of this true property and purpose of music is to be able to discover for yourself which music, band, or song stimulates you positively, as well as negatively.
Music has been around since the beginning of civilization. Current social knowledge will dictate that pills are the only way out of depression, but this is not true. Music’s original purpose is to help us communicate our creativity and love in a better way. As a consequence, music is a source of energy, either positive or negative, and we must learn to us it in the appropriate way.
In my experience as a music lover and musician, I know first-hand the effects of the music. When everything else seems to be heading a negative way or the world around us portray despair and immorality, I grab my iPod and conscious of what my “self” needs I play a song that will make me reflect about my situation and the situation around me. I immediately start thinking about the beautiful things that surround me and start appreciating the fact that I am alive.
Deadlines, routines, cities, cars, fears, diseases, poverty, hardships, loneliness, stress, and unhappiness suddenly flushed away for the period of time the song lasts. The only thing that seems important during that moment is the fact of life. After the song is over I feel refreshed and consciously try to that change in mentality. Consequently, music has an undeniable power in our reality, and, however we decide to explore it, music will always bring that unexplainable feeling that we need so much today. Be aware of what you listen to, be aware of how you feel when you listen to it, and be aware of the energy it provides you.
– D. T.