The Magic of Music
May 26, 2014
As a supertitles operator, one who is in charge of making sure the translations that appear on the screen or wall above an opera during a performance are running in sync with the music, I have had the pleasure of enjoying so many amazing performances closely up front for companies such as Opera by Request, Opera Belcanto of York, and Opera York. Of course, I also attend operas as an audience member so I can enjoy the experience fully. I remember many heartfelt emotions flow through me when listening to glorious moments in the operas as if my soul was somehow being shaken, awaken, and also expanded with the powerful vibrations of the music. It is also fascinating to discover how some music speaks so deeply with our souls, in my case, Bizet's opera Les pêcheurs de perles (The Pearl Fishers). The duet with the bass and tenor called, "Au fond du temple saint" (In the depths of the temple) is one piece I can listen to over and over again which conjures a feeling of indescribable euphoria.
Music has been known and used since ancient times to be very healing for the body, mind, and soul. The Tibetans played singing bowls by gently moving a stick, usually wooden, around the edge of the singing bowl tuned to particular frequencies that balance and align energies as well as shift consciousness (Mandle). In Australia, the aboriginals have used didgeridoos as a healing tool for over 40 thousand years, producing sound frequencies which modern science correlated to be the same that have been found to have healing properties (Reid). The ancient Greeks had flutes and lyres as their healing instrument of choice, as well as Apollo, their God of music and medicine (Parada). Other parts of the word valued the sound of the voice as a tool for healing. The Egyptians chanted vowels as early as 4,000BC and believed vowels were so sacred that their hieroglyphic language contained none. Africans and Native Americans also chanted and sang during their healing rituals (Harvard Health Publications). Even the Chinese character for music is embedded in the character for medicine. Our modern era started catching on when the discovery of ultrasound was made, which brought serious consideration of music for medical purposes and its important role in our well-being (Reid). Today, music therapy is taught in universities and the healing properties of sound continue to be researched.
There have been many studies done regarding music, sound, health and well-being. For example, UK Professor Adrian North undertook a study linking musical preferences to personality, in which he sampled over 36 thousand people over 60 countries, asked them to rate different musical styles and tallied the results (Collingwood). I adore opera very much as I am also an opera singer. So according to Professor North's study, opera fans are likely to be more creative, gentle, and have high self-esteems. Without having to be told, just by listening to music, one feels its immediate effects. It has been confirmed that music triggers emotions which stimulate parts of the brain, strengthen neural connections, and releases chemicals in the brain such as dopamine as was demonstrated in an experiment at McGill University in 2001 (Hawkins). In particular, the peptides, a compound of two or more amino acids, in the brain is altered listening to music thus affecting emotional change and further impacting one's immune system (Gough). Amazingly, music also acts as a bridge to help brain damaged patients redevelop their speech again by activating new parts of the brain to do the work of the damaged portions (Mannes) and similar techniques look promising for people with Alzheimer's. Daniel Levitin, a psychologist studying the neuroscience of music provides evidence of music's calmness effects and production of antibodies that support immunity (Landau).
Music is one of those things that makes true of the saying, "the best things in life are free." It is readily available and also built into each and every one of us through our vocal chords. There maybe a song that is wanting to come out (in the shower?) or even a need to be part of something larger like joining a choir or band. In Sweden, there is something called "Opera Aid," a service from Stockholm opera promoting opera in Sweden where people request house calls from opera singers (Gedilaghine). When making a request, an explanation is needed in how one hopes music would fix a problem one is experiencing. Imagine your own personal opera singer in your living room performing your favourite aria! There are also courses that connect singing with healing such as Dr. & Master Zhi Gang Sha's retreat this June 13-19 to certify Source Song & Dance Soul Healers. This training is designed to teach participants how to offer healing blessings through their singing or dancing.
If you like opera, there are 3 concerts in June 2014 with Opera by Request at the College Street United Church (454 College Street West):
Or check out some live music listing in Toronto. Whatever you choose, according to Plato, "“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”
Live Music Listings in Toronto:
Now Toronto: http://www.nowtoronto.com/music/listings/
Just Shows: http://justshows.com/toronto/
Concerts TO: http://concertsto.com/
Toronto Theatre: http://www.toronto-theatre.com/index_concert.php
Collingwood, J. (2014). » Preferred Music Style Is Tied to Personality - Psych Central. [online] Psych Central.com. Available at: http://psychcentral.com/lib/preferred-music-style-is-tied-to-personality/0001438 [Accessed 27 May. 2014].
Gedilaghine, I. (2014). Swedish opera singers make 'house calls' for the soul - The Local. [online] Thelocal.se. Available at: http://www.thelocal.se/20120410/40170 [Accessed 26 May. 2014].
Gough, M. (2014). Healing Power of Music ( updated ). [online] Fmbr.org. Available at: http://www.fmbr.org/papers/music_power2.php [Accessed 26 May. 2014].
Hawkins, D. (2014). HEALING WITH MUSIC | Caring Today. [online] Caringtoday.com. Available at: http://www.caringtoday.com/deal-with/healing-with-music [Accessed 26 May. 2014].
Health.harvard.edu, (2014). Using Music to Tune the Heart - Harvard Health Publications. [online] Available at: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Heart_Letter/2009/November/using-music-to-tune-the-heart [Accessed 27 May. 2014].
Landau, E. (2014). When patients have 'music emergencies'. [online] CNN. Available at: http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/23/health/music-therapy/ [Accessed 26 May. 2014].
Mandle, D. (2014). About Sound Energy Healing with Tibetan Bowls | Diáne Mandle Certified Teacher and Healer. [online] Soundenergyhealing.com. Available at: http://www.soundenergyhealing.com/pages/aboutSoundEnergy.html [Accessed 26 May. 2014].
Mannes, E. (2011). The power of music. 1st ed. New York: Walker & Co.
Parada, C. (2014). Apollo - Greek Mythology Link. [online] Maicar.com. Available at: http://www.maicar.com/GML/Apollo.html [Accessed 26 May. 2014].
Reid, J. and Reid, A. (2014). Ancient Sound Healing. [online] Token Rock. Available at: http://www.tokenrock.com/sound_healing/sounds_of_the_ancients.php [Accessed 26 May. 2014].
Tsu-Ching Yu is a multi-talented performer, lover, dreamer, and student of life. Her mission is to live life to the fullest and each day through the lenses of love, compassion, and understanding. She believes in creating miracles and it all starts with each and every one of us.