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In This Issue:
Music Affects the Mind-Body-Spirit at a DNA level
One of the more remarkable facts that I have come across in the field of music medicine and music healing, is the long-term effect that music has on our DNA. Of course, everything in the world is vibration, including music, our bodies and every part of our bodies, including our DNA. One of the experts who spoke at the 1995 Sound Healing Symposium in New Hampshire, spoke about the belief that people in various parts of the world have been exposed for so many centuries and eons to the native music of that region, that even if they move elsewhere on the planet, their children and future progeny, respond to the music of their ancestors. Now that's pretty wild, but it does make sense to me.
Considering that music is make up of melody, harmonies and rhythms, combined in unique but recognizable ways in different parts of the world, we can speculate pretty accurately where a given piece of music might have originated. Even in our own country, the average person, with no particular musical training, can recognize many different styles and genres of music. The theory is that, for example, even if you didn't know where your recent ancestors came from, you might have a strong affinity or attraction for certain kinds of music that you never heard before.
In their fascinating article, "Music and Metamusic: a Universal Bridge," Barbara Bullard and Matthew Joyce look at the other side of the music and DNA issue: using carefully chosen healing music in order to soothe a comfort people who are ill and in pain.
Music in Our Genes
Larry Dossey, M.D. reaches a similar conclusion in his excellent article, “The Body as Music.” In it Dossey eloquently addresses an even deeper level of music when he states: “Why are we moved by music? One reason may be that the body itself is intrinsically musical, right down to the DNA that makes up our genes.”
The idea that DNA and music might be connected originates with the work of Dr. Susumu Ohno, a geneticist at the Beckman Institute of the City of Hope Hospital in Duarte, California. Dr. Ohno has notated more than fifteen songs based on the DNA of a variety of living organisms.
He finds that
the more evolved an organism, the more complicated
the music. The DNA of a single-cell protozoan, for
example, translates into a simple four-note
repetition. But music transcribed from human
DNA––such as the body’s receptor site for
insulin––is much more complex.
Not only can
one make music starting with DNA, it is also
possible to reverse the process. In other words, you
take a piece of music and assign nucleotides to the
notes. The end result resembles a strand of DNA.
Ohno tried this with a Chopin piece and the final
result resembled a cancer gene!
So, all of this to say tht music affects us so much more powerfully than most of us realize. Pay attention to your sonic environment and consciously choose the music and sounds that you know make you feel good. Many people love wind chimes on their porch, but I know many who can't bear them. Some people can't stand to hear a dog barking at all, and others can easily hear that sound and assume the dog is communicating an important message. Our bodies and minds react instantaneously to music and sounds. Pay attention and choose wisely.
Good Info About Music Therapy
The ability to appreciate and
respond to music is an inborn quality in human beings. This ability
usually remains unimpaired by handicap, injury or illness, and is
not dependent on music training. For people who find verbal
communication an inadequate form of self expression, music therapy
offers a safe, secure space for the release of feelings.
Furthermore, music therapy involves a relationship between the
therapist and client in which music becomes a way of promoting
change and growth.
Combating the Side-Effects
The Duet of Brain and Music
Zip-a-dee doo dah, Zip-a-dee-ay …” –A.
Wrubel, R. Gilbert
For nearly two decades, I've been helping people use the music that they already love to heal their lives and increase their wellness quotient! I am one of the world's only clinical musicologists and hold a Masters degree in piano performance, a Ph.D. in musicology and a Master of Social Work in clinical social work. I am also a licensed clinical social worker. I work with people and diagnoses of all kinds, enabling them to find healing, acceptance and hope.
I love performing, researching, and teaching and have put them all together in a career called "Music Medicine."
See you next month!!