An empty universe was filled with stars and planets. Through the play of energy life emerged on those planets. Sound and light is everywhere where everything begins.
The big bang, the arrival of Adam and Eve, the play of Bhrahma or Waheguru, whatever one believes would have had a sound. Sound is the medium through which anything happens by its inherent vibrations. Light on the other hand would need to absorb material in order to vibrate and make sound.
Without getting bogged down with science, sound communicates. Thus language is created through sounds. Once uttered those sounds have a meaning and convey something. Sound and language then is the blueprint of existence.
There are sounds that are horrible and sounds that are pleasant. It depends on the way we listen perceive and what those sounds can evoke in us. We need to fill our surroundings with the right sounds to experience our different moods then.
Through those moods we experience life.
People bring life to themselves by chanting, praying and singing. Through this they attempt to reach the beginning of their existence, the Som. I.e; God.
Pundit Jasraj and Sadh Guru explained the effects of sound. Punditji explained that we hum ‘Sa’ but is it on the right note? He added that we can never be sure of its accuracy because if two taanpura plays the same tone at the same time with accuracy then it will create a ‘resonance’ that could snap a string on the taanpura; it could even collapse a bridge.
Sadh Guruji explained that being in unison creates certain energy and that’s how music through sound brings you that energy and energy brings you sound. He explained that modern science would explain it as ‘when one plays energy around it can create virtual protons.’ Carrying on from that then it shows that although logic moves step by step creation does not happen step by step.
The Inherent Benefits of Music
Musicologists, psychologists, physiologists and educationalists all have told us that music has a positive effect on many areas of our lives. (Nigel Osborne, Dr. W. H. J. Wales and Dr. D. Brine).
Psychological benefits include the concentration level, improve memory. Music triggers the brain center, which deal with the development of creativity. Certain ragas are known to activate all the chakras of the listener’s body, bringing benefits in being better in other tasks.
Physiological ailments such as reducing stoic blood pressure and heart rate have said to be reduced.
Educational attaining faculties can see improvements in certain areas, such as verbal learning and abstract conceptualization. Music stimulates the brain centers that deal with thinking, analyzing and planning, thus enhancing one’s organizational and mathematical skills. Music has been used to give students the capacity to trust themselves.
Therapy through music is not new. Music helps secrete endorphin that in turn helps in speeding the process of healing. After undergoing surgery, patients may be advised to undergo a music therapy.
As Western music and pop music is more expressing our lives as we live it, Indian Classical music is experiencing our life as it is comes to us in meditative form.
Sound in Indian Classical Music.
The language of sound in Indian Classical Music can be in single line (melody) or multiple lines (harmony) in rhythmic patterns (beat/taal) and as these sounds can and do change ones emotions then it also brings a colour (mood). In Indian Classical Music, moods are described as sringar (love), hasya (laughter), karuna (compassion), vira (heroism), raudra (wrath), bhayanaka (fear), bibhatsa (disgust) and adbhuta (wonder) and others. There have been attempts to relate individual notes to the eight basic moods in Indian Music. Saraj/kharaj) and rishab/rikhab are used to create moods of anger courage or wonder, gandhar for compassion , madhyam, pancham bring love and laughter dhaibat shows fear and disgust and nishad/nikhad evokes compassion. Minor notes bring more melancholy and sentiment. In Indian Music, taal, which in western music is seen simply as beats, offers a semi-melodic quality on the tabla and adds a third dimension of harmony. Harmony in the Western sense, however, is not a part of traditional Indian music, and it is important not to look for it.
The melodic structure, vaadi, samvaadi, jaati, pakad, using sound, brings you raaga with different moods and emotions. The different times of the day can also affect the mood and thus raaga are set for certain times of the day or night. The various dhrupad, kheyal, thumri with the incorporation of taans, boltaans, gamak and meer and other various techniques all enhance both the experience of the performer and the listener.
Mathematical precision brings certain effects, even if they cannot break strings or bridges maybe in a performance, as explained above. The different energies do incredible things to human beings and its surroundings.
Individual singing or groups of people singing together brings sounds together to create profound.
A word about lyrics
As music is so difficult to define (Dr Levitin, Neuroscientist and Musician author) and lyrics are words set to the music it can be very difficult to separate the two. In Indian Classical Music however it has been noted that lyrics are not as important as sounds.
Away from deep meditation, music has been known as an effective way of communicate to the masses, lyrics have played a massive role in delivering this communication. (Patricia Fox Ransom at the University of Pennsylvania has written
‘When individuals understand where they find meaning in their own lives they understand a little more about themselves (Steger, 2009). This self-understanding is important for many reasons. It may provide clarity into who we are and how we make decisions. The more meaning you have in your life the higher your well-being (Campbell, 1990). Researchers have looked at the role of meaning in the workplace and have discovered that the more meaning in the 16 workplace can lead to more personal fulfillment, higher engagement and motivation, and better career development (Wrezeniewski, Berg, & Dutton 2010; Wrzeniewski 2003). In a study of 143 college undergraduates, Spiritual meaning has also been researched as a buffer against stress and found to act as a buffer against stressful situations (Mascaro & Rosen, 2006). Students with high levels of spiritual meaning showed less daily stress and depression as measured by the Life Regard Index-Revised, a 14 self-report scale that measures the framework or philosophy for living, and Frankl (1963) writes that when we come across a roadblock to a goal we are more likely to resist stress and persevere if we find meaning. Like positive emotions, the ability to find meaning is an area we can cultivate. Fields such as narrative therapy help people change the meaning they give to the stories they themselves, transforming self-image (Brown & Augusta-Scott, 2007). By transforming this self image it gives the individual a meaningful way to connect to past and present circumstances allowing for the ability to make sense of their lives and the world around them (Brown & Augusta-Scott, 2007). As we find meaning in our surroundings and our stories it is important to look at the messages we receive on a daily basis and how we might interpret them.’
In conclusion then I can say that lyrics has therapeutic benefits in a slightly different way – through the sounds that have meanings to them – melodies have the effect of creating mood and rhythm has the effect of finding the mathematics that brings life to one. Lyrics to give them a worldly meaning creating life in the way one wants life to be. The effects of music are simply profound.
So whatever music means to one; meditation, hobby, passion or career, what is music is doing to you? Music brings your life to you. Taking you to meet sounds in the most pure and most natural place possible for you, connecting you creation or creator, God.
Finally, apart from the meditative benefits, performers or artists of any genre or medium, an artist friend, Saif Shaikh, commented on a class performance of mine, which actually inspired me to write this article. He said, amongst other things,
‘ From the Golden Ratio of Leonardo Da Vinci’s measurement of Woman to Fibonacci’s sequences, artists, musicians, sculptors, dancers etc are all trying to find that rhythm & dance (so to say, in their own medium or art form) to that universal beat. More simply put; every artist is trying to connect with creation or the divine and share that creative joy with the world’