Story Kayli Corbin
You’re driving in the car and that song comes on. You know the one I’m talking about. You’re suddenly flooded with an immense, inescapable, and intense sense of nostalgia. Whether it was a summer ten years ago when you were falling madly in love, or the song that carried you through the depths of the subsequent breakup, music is a magical carrier of memories that can easily overwhelm you with emotion.
Have you ever listened to a classical orchestra and felt as if the music was physically influencing your body? Whether it elicits unexpected tears of joy with its melodic grace and euphoric ambiance, or simply sends vibrations from the instruments rumbling up the rows of seating in the amphitheater, there is no denying that music influences us in a variety of very impactful ways.
From the beginning of time, music has helped shape human being’s physical and mental health. Prehistoric man enjoyed the wind blowing through trees as song. Ancient Egyptians outline musical incantations. Greek physicians used instruments to heal their patients. Aristotle believed flute music could purify the soul. We see a more prominent (and scientific) emergence of music’s healing power as we progress through history. By the 19th Century, scientists began recording data about music’s effects on biological functioning. It displayed scientific proof of music lowering heart rate and blood pressure, as well as increasing cardiac output. Remember, this was all before music had even been recorded!
Cymatic research is a keynote in the concept of modern-day musical healing. The term ‘cymatic’ explores the realm of a tone or frequency’s ability to physically alter the arrangement of matter. Beautiful geometric patterns can be created with a violin, sand, and thin steel sheet. Liquid matter can be configured in unique, amoebic shapes with the tweak of a resonance knob. Throughout history and into our modern lives, music has been an undeniable influencing factor in humanity’s wellbeing. Science supports the fact that music influences matter, but what we’re lacking in this story is the experience of music from the perspective of our human condition—a language.
Matt Dixon, known locally as MCMD, is a part of the group Dedicated Servers (thededicatedservers.com) and has a solo album ‘Leaf Tag’ (available on Spotify and Amazon). MCMD’s story is one of utilization of music to express, grow, and in many instances, to heal. He describes his style as ‘intelligently fun hip-hop.’ He has committed himself to authentically representing his life in the music he creates, and writes about everything from getting diagnosed with diabetes to playing video games or falling in love.
MCMD explains, “The interesting thing about music is it is simultaneously something very personal that someone else created, but also something completely personal to you.” He once wrote the lyrics ‘Let me ask a question about spoken word, what means more—what I said or what you heard?’ The profoundness of these lyrics speak volumes to music’s ability as the great healer. Music can elicit an undeniable understanding of human connectedness and remind us of the humanity we all share. MCMD explains that music has listened when he needed to speak and taught him when he was ready to listen, showing how impactfully words can heal.
Jeffrey Bull Jr. is our next story of music’s healing ability. He picked up a guitar in middle school to play traditional chords and has progressed to the point of production and creation of full songs. His music can be found on Spotify/Apple Music/iTunes under the title DADWAVE. He prides himself in creating catchy music that leaves a lasting memory. Music has been a constant in Jeffrey’s life. He states, “I used to be really shut off with my emotions, and I didn’t know how to handle them very well. Music was a really big help with that… Music now is almost a celebration for me, rather than a coping thing.” We can all agree that there are certain melodies and lyrics that help us grow and develop as people, allowing us to celebrate and cope when necessary.
Fernando Menéndez, the Marketing & Education Manager at Opera Idaho, explains his experience with music’s healing ability, “There’s so many ways it [music] has helped. Sometimes by knowing that the feelings I’m having are shared by others, sometimes by allowing me to forget my sorrows, and sometimes by providing me the fuel to keep working through those times.” His past with Opera Idaho is lengthy and he has a plethora of experience and has witnessed a continuous development of Opera Idaho’s success. He acknowledged that “many of the operas we perform have been written a long time ago, [but] the subject matter is still relatable… People from all walks of life are brought together through music. It’s truly a universal language.”
Leslie Mauldin has filled a variety of roles within Opera Idaho as well. She eloquently expressed her experience with music as a healing influence, “…music requires an emotional connection that is difficult and scary to face during hard times when it can seem easier to hide those feelings from myself and the world.” She continues by highlighting the connectedness you feel when overcoming those fears and representing true vulnerability in front of a group of people. She states perfectly my ever-prevailing thought when writing this article, “Live performance evokes a generosity of spirit that is hard to describe, and to me at least, sometimes seems to have a nearly mystical power to heal, and to teach. Scientists, however, would probably disagree with my use of the word “mystical” … there are ongoing studies in this area in fields such as music therapy. I am happy for the scientific research, but as for myself, I like the magic too; because it truly sometimes feels that way, and can bring so much depth, healing power, and joy to life!”
The summary of music’s healing power lies in a dichotomy of melody and lyricism. A vibrational frequency paired with a distinctly human interaction (language), allows for personal development, introspection, growth, and a variety of healing benefits. I challenge you to think about the ways music heals you.