Category Archives: Music therapy

Therapeutic Effects of Indian Music in Acquired Brain Injuries

Music Therapy is the prescribed use of music and music related techniques to assist and motivate a person towards specific, nonmusical goals. Music therapists use their training to effect changes in the cognitive, physical, communication, social, and emotional skills”. Music Therapy is basically sound energy therapy.

NMT or neurological music therapy is defined as “the therapeutic application of music to cognitive, sensory, and motor dysfunctions due to neurologic disease of the human nervous system.” In the field of neuroscience today, music is considered as a powerful tool to understand brain functions and music–brain–behaviour interactions. Findings from the field of neuroscience have provided an edifice leading to the development of a science-based approach to music therapy practice and research.

Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation (RAS)- Music therapists use techniques that stimulate brain functions – a common one being rhythmic auditory stimulation (RAS). This relies on the connections between rhythm and movement, wherein, the patient is stimulated to relax or move through the use of music of a particular rhythm.

 

 

Delving Into Spa Sounds

Ancient people regularly initiated body massage so as to make healthy and vigorous lifestyle. As Karen Olsen stated in a blog, “Healing retreats have their origins in places such as the asclepieia of ancient Greece, temples where ill people told their dreams to a priest who then recommended treatments, often including a visit to baths or the gymnasium.”

Spa is a sophisticated and trending name for massage. Today’s stressed and exerted lives of masses need spa for their relaxation and temporary rejuvenation, but ancient people required it for the permanent inner strength and vigor. This make their attitude more solid and workaholic.

Including spa with sounds or ‘spa-music’ is not a modern technique too. It has been coming since the sounds of ocean, chirping birds, rivers or rain sounds have been discovered. This is the real music which tends to keep us grounded and closer to nature. Overtime, the nature interactions faded away that results in the purposeful company of sounds and nature, not the natural. However, the trending word today is ‘relaxing music’ but it was suppose to be far beyond relaxation earlier. Spa sounds like ‘rushing river’, rhythmic ocean waves, Harmonious heartbeats, Inspirational water drips adds the spiritual and veridical flavour while spa sessions.

How Spa Music Serves

Treatment with musical spa is beneficial, in fact essential for embellished lifestyle and wellbeing. To state a few benefits:

Heightens positive hormones: Serotonin is considered as the ‘happy’ neurotransmitter by the experts, which feeds better mood, sleep and cognitive abilities to the body. Spa sessions along with natural/environmental tunes increases the level of pleasure hormones like serotonin and dopamine in the bloodstream. Activated positive hormones keeps us more grounded and attached to our roots and gives a secure, blissed feeling.

Reduces Stress levels: spa sounds are the great way to disconnect from the day-to-day complicated lives and welcome the serenity and peace of the night. One can alleviate the stress levels, anxiety and agitation in petty things imbibing these relaxing and calming tunes.

Improves Creativity: A study was conducted on a 7 years old dyslexic, unfocused, boy in which his mom applied a body massage playing the sounds of tidal waves with honch at the background. She did this for half an hour till 6 days when the researchers observed the boy meticulously. Rest of the day after the massage, the boy spend innovating lego boats, ships, castle, star-fish and other stuffs related to water and waves. Good news is that he could explain about every single part he used. He literally left the researchers amused and his mom, emotional. Spa sounds reinforces the brain functioning and blows the creativity balloons in a child’s unfiltered free mind.

Lowers The Heart Rate: People in waiting rooms, hospitals and other clinical environments show a decrease in heart rate when relaxing non-percussive music is present, studies say. Listening to this rejuvenating music with spa helps lower the blood pressure and heart rate. A lower heart rate renders a calmer self and can gives inner peace to focus and achieve our goals easily.

Reiki : A Spiritual Tranquilizer

Kay had an ample of silent heart attacks and he was diabetic too. In 2000, his condition deteriorated that doctors had to recommend heart catheterisations. He had one and there was a gap for the next. Being a rural dweller he had travel miles towards New York for the treatment, until he met a lady, a reiki teacher in his graduation party. She insisted on taking a session for he loses nothing. He took an hour session, which was a life changing experience for him. He felt absolutely healthy and blissful. The other day, he had to take the medical heart sessions for which he was so scared that he began to cry. Doctors went spellbound to see his reports which demonstrated his heart as normal.

“He then told me what he saw, and didn’t really understand. He said there was a very healthy heart on the screens, very healthy. There was no evidence of a heart attack, just a small valve problem…” Says Kay about the doctor, “He didn’t understand it, he said. I said I did.”

We are undeniably familiar with the terms reiki, or reiki-spa as the actress Hema Malini has popularized it by expressing about her lifestyle, but we certainly do not know its power of healing.

Reiki is a simple, natural and safe Japanese technique of mind healing and self-improvement applicable for all. It has been effective in curing almost all the diseases and malady and always creates a beneficial effect. It also works in conjunction with all other medical or therapeutic techniques to relieve side effects and promote recovery.

Reiki with Music

Combining reiki with a suitable music are considered to make a person delve into the inner bright light trashing all the worldly sorrows and ailments. Tunes like Chiryo (Tunes with flute and bells), Reiji Ho (Asian flute with a Tibetan instruments), Palm Healing (Metal warmer and knells), Warmth, Monk’s Healing Tones etc. treats the neural hormones through it’s sonic electric currents and heightens the spirit. The sounds of bells, flute, honch, metal-bowl, when intermingled to make meditative tunes have 60% greater therapeutic effect on the patient.

 

Why Raga Music is more Therapeutic than other Music-Cultures?

raga impact on brain

raga impact on brain

Music in India has great potential in this study because Indian music is melodic and has somewhat different pitch perception mechanisms. Western classical music which is based on harmonic relation between notes versus the melodic mode (raaga) structures in the Indian Classical Music System (ICM) within the rhythmic cycle music may demand qualitatively different cognitive engagement. The analysis of EEG data to determine the relation between the brain state condition in the presence of ICM and its absence would therefore be an interesting study. How rhythm, pitch, loudness etc. interrelate to influence our appreciation of the emotional content of music might be another important area of study. This might decipher a technique to monitor the course of activation in the time domain in a three-dimensional state space, revealing patterns of global dynamical states of the brain. It might also be interesting to see whether the arousal activities remain after removal of music stimuli.

There are a few unique aspects of raga music which may be considered more therapeutic and recommended for healing. However, there is a scarcity of rational researches in the field, whereas, west music has been researched and has gained pretty much authenticity. But there are various unique elements in raga music or Indian music which can be considered as the medium of more explorations and analysis and further for healing.

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Re-introducing Dhrupad

Pursuing the music therapy course these days, is making me listening to every music according to that perspective. My mind subtly enters into the questioning zone while listening to any music, whether this piece is healing or not.

The other evening, I was listening to Pt. Uday Bhawalkar’s raga Bhimpalasi Dhrupada piece, and I felt I was captivated physically. While listening to his fast-paced rhythmic, versatile, superfluous, rendition of the Bhimpalasi notes, I was as if witnessing my brain knots unleashing my breath mollifying. I wanted to move from my place, but was totally mindful and entangled. I could feel my hormones and senses getting balanced. I stayed in that state for 20 minutes till when it got over. After which I stared at the things surrounding me; I went to the balcony and greeted all the sounds of nature. I could concentrate in the chirping and tweaking of birds clearly, (what we don’t do usually). I was absolutely in the present. I gazed at the setting sun, produced a thought, ‘Allz well’, and stepped inside. This was the time I was normalized. But I was reminiscing what it was; What was the factor that made me feel good, albeit I am aware of the power of music.

Defining Dhrupad

Dhrupad too is a vocal style like khyala-gayaki, which is also exhibited and unfolded in a particular raga, although in different style, structure and tonality. It is a highly structured, classicalized way of chanting vedic mantra and hymns. Lets first have a quick introduction of Dhrupad.

During vedic period, when there was nothing dhrupad existed in the name of Prabandh. Then even after many modification and bringing down to simplicity, Dhrupad is still journeying today. Dhrupad is an oldest genre of Hindustani classical vocal music, which exists even today. Apart from the Khyala singing which is also called Ragadari sangeet,

Here are some definitions of Dhrupad given by the maestros.

Dhrupad was originally sung in temples and later thrived under the patronage of the Mughal rulers who were acclaimed Dhrupadias. Almost every gharana or the Music tradition, be it gwalior, or Agra, were initially the Dhrupad Gharana and eventually formed the Khyala school of music. Today, a few number of Dhrupad tradition schools are in the trend such as Vishnupur Gharana, Dagarvani, Darbhanga, Betia, Talwandi, etc..

Dhrupad exponents

Since last 10 decades, the synonymous of Dhrupad Gayaki is Dagarwani or the lineage of Dagar Bandhu (brothers). Eminent figures like Nasir Moinuddin, Nasir Aminuddin Dagar, Zia Mohiuddin Dagar, Ustad Rahim Fahimuddin Dagar, Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar and Ustad Hussain Sayeedudddin Dagar have taken forward on its zenith by their competence and by transferring the pedagogy to the comtempories. All the Dhrupad Singers today like Gundecha brothers, Pt. Ritwik Saniyal, Pt. Uday Bhawalkar are the disciples and torchbearers of Dagar and Dhrupad tradition as well.

Connection with the Cosmos

Considered as the sound of meditation and worship, its mantric recitation comprises of an organised, elaborated and complex grammar and aesthetics. One needs to have a proper pedagogy of voice culture and engineering, as it deals with the cosmic sounds and intonations. Fundamental to Dhrupad singing is the practice of Nāda Yoga, in which, through various yogic practices, the singer develops the inner resonance of the body, and can make the sound resonate and flow freely through the entire region from navel to head. Even the Dhrupad maestros experience very transcending connections through the pedagogy of Dhrupad. 

Dhrupad Gayaki consists of an elaborated, consistence, flawless, rhythmic nom-tom Alap in a raga, followed by a Dhrupad bandish, Layakaris (Bandish rendered with magical rhythm and incredible meter of the same tala and tempo which is going on), Bol baant, Gamak, and finally the fast-paced overly extended, highly skilled nom-tom rhythmic cycles.

How It Heals

Chanting of mantras and hymns, as in Dhrupad, can be thought of as tools that liberate the mind. Mantra is a Sanskrit word which means ‘mental liberation’. It awakens the life forces that exists in the human souls and directs the mind towards the transcended state. Constant listening and rendering of these cosmic sounds delivers the mind from its worldly conditioning and brain limitations.

Aum sound is unnecessarily associated with Hinduism albeit it has been taken up in the Sanskrit shlokas and mantras Hinduism being the oldest culture. But Om is just a sound which exists in the cosmos. Sun makes a sound that never reaches earth. NASA laboratory in space captured sound and recorded. Most astonishing that the sound resembles “Om”. Scientists are still trying to correlate why ancient Hindu mantra and sun’s sound are same. I might not want to enter into this segment as this is another wide area, but Dhrupad incorporates all these cosmic sounds and its oscillations, which gradually enhances the cognition by its ultimate ability of developing mindfulness. In fact, Dhrupad rendition is more systematic and calculative procedure of these mantras intermingled with the Raga aesthetics and classical improvisation.

In the journey of self improvement, wellness, and moving inward, it is good to be in confusion rather than fixing a conclusion, because everything has to be self-realized rather than read or preached. Therefore, in this abstract concepts, let’s try this another experiment of internal healing by listening to the mantras in the form of Dhrupad. May be you are very far from exploring a new ray of bliss and intellect.

How Miraculous Music Affects

 

“Hello Madam, I cannot trace you … Are  you standing near Inorbit Mall ? … Madam please come at the other end … Madam, please stand by the corner of the ……. blah, blah, blah.”

One creepy evening, an Uber driver took around one hour to track me. Consequently, he reacted ferociously due to the time he wasted trying to coordinate with me. I tried to retort in the middle of his barbaric tone but I stopped,  thinking it’s of no use. After he was done with all the frustrated words, he switched on the FM radio. Some typical song turned up, which exhibited some absurd, annoying erotic sounds. He was obviously not listening to it as he was still busy vociferating on someone else on his phone. I could feel the heaviness in my head. I  was almost red-faced after being shouted at by an unknown.

I rudely commanded, “Would be good if you switch this song off.” He agreed.

Few moments later,  I played Raga Jaijaiwanti on the sitar, which I came  across while browsing at the whats app messages/videos. I listened to it with great focus in order to get rid of the hangover gifted by him.  To my astonishment, he started interacting with me starting with, “Very soothing tune, which instrument ?” I was still a bit vexed but I answered disinterest-fully. He continued, “You know madam, my wife sings very well …” and so on.

This unexpected, unpredictable behavior by an uncultured man left me in a huge dilemma about what was his state of mind. The journey was like fifteen minutes long. I normally do not expect even a well-educated, sophisticated person to change back to normal after such brusque attitude just in few minutes.  I was in a reckoning mode  when he confessed, “Excuse me Madam; Sorry, I behaved badly!!”

Music actually plays a vital role in uplifting the mood. Brain waves experience quite significant variations, which makes one switch from a lowly, stressful mood to high and positive vibes. The term ‘resonance’ is an essential element for conceptualizing musical tunes as a mood-changer. Scientifically, as Mr. M. Farouk Radwan explains, ‘resonance’ refers to the increase in amplitude of oscillation of a mechanical system when it gets exposed to a periodic force that had frequency equal to the natural frequency. In other words, resonance is a charismatic shine in a voice or any instrument’s sound, which produces happy hormone called  ‘serotonin’. It reverberates our brain waves, balances our hormones,  thus  mollifies us when we are anxiously driven.

Not only humans but the creatures, objects too can channelize themselves into positivism through music. In the recent researches in China, a therapist was working on water, when he kept two tumblers full of water in the different rooms. He switched on a noisy, hullabaloo sounds in one room and a soothing, pleasant tune in the other. Then he examined the water crystals and proved the authentic power of music. Water in the noisy room had developed haphazard, unorganized crystals, whereas, water listening to the musical tunes had symmetrical and awesomely ornamented crystals.

Now the question is – is it some peculiarly miraculous music? Every tune is musical and is capable of treating our stress quotient. Well, there is a definite time and emotions for every piece. All musical pieces can be innovative for a particular listener, but might not be effective.  Sometimes we enjoy the same piece every time we listen with same overwhelming emotions and bliss. Sometimes, the piece is monotonous or too difficult and might not  mollify our ears quite often.

There are many aspects which can result in categorizing music as ‘miraculous’.

Monotonous pieces: Sometimes we want to listen to your favorite list repeatedly and you enjoy every phrase of it at every moment. But this might be applicable in a normal mood or when we are already relaxed. When we feel low, the same lovable  piece might not even penetrate our minds because of the flowing thoughts. In this case, need of miraculous Indian music like ragas, Om Chant are far more effective to heal us or to subside our negative self-talk.

Excessive emotional content: We tend to listen to the depressing and sentimental songs when we are already exhausted or in a dull mode. In bollywood tracks nowadays, they are perpetually composing the over sensuous or erotic songs which are soothing but drain energy and vitality through their haunting music and lyrics. People, especially males tend to get lost and are able to find path because of the long lived belief that male chauvinism demands seriousness and serenity. Ultimately, that emotional carriage is pushing them towards outer non-acceptance and gossip. Thus, males generally connect sad songs with drinks.

Noisy & Fast track: You may love the fast and noisy pieces like rock, pop, but they are not recommended for the stress treatment. For instance, Jerry gets back home after disheartening words of his boss and is fully drowned into negativity and anxiety.  He turns up  his favorite Britney and all fast noisy stuff on full volume and broods over the same topic. According to the researchers and therapists, that’s also music, but  won’t really help and might push him even deep down the low. It will increase the heart beats, which are already high paced. Super fast drum beats and octopad measures might activate his negative hormone like adrenaline.  On the contrary, the best medicine for low-feeling or depression is inner contemplation, which might be evolved through soothing, peaceful, or slow music. Here comes the need of Indian music  or raga dive and Indian instruments. Violin do help but the heavenly tunes of sitar & sarod massages your brain neurons gently and makes you attain relaxation. Soft and slow rhythms balance the heart beats and cognitive neurons.

There is a lot research on how music works as a medicine but what kind of music works as miracle or instant healer to a disturbed mind, this is essentially an introspective topic.

Music Mends Relationship

TV actress and host Vrushali Mandal was a great violinist apart from being a so-so actress. After an year of her successful career, her love life started deteriorating with an obvious reasons and finally it came to an end. Since Vrushali was committed to her work, she continued to act mechanically but fully shattered from within. Her lonely apartment pinched her with the lovable memories and she went into chronic depression. For two months, she locked herself in a room, when a music academy was opened in just the next door. The inevitably audible music of the duirinal classes surpassed her ears daily, which initially made her vexed. Gradually, her depression streaks started plummeting and her gormlessness subsiding. She joined the classes and found her life more towards acceptance and value of relationship. One fine morning, she called her boyfriend to apologise and patch up the stuffs. They kickstarted their life and in an interview she shared a statement, “Tunes and sounds have played a great role in my life; I would suggest all to value music at all times.”

The rhapsodic tunes of music reverberates our soul to an extent that it can change our attitude towards life and people around us. The sonic currents of musical tunes penetrates our body and pleasure hormones called dopamine and  estrogen and balances them. Researches reveal that constant listening to your favorite tracks alters the perspective we have for people and we try to see people with more positive and accepting glairs. Fast and slow tracks also contribute essentially in the attaining and subsiding the optimism in people. Fast tracks generally stimulates one whereas the slow ones relaxes our mind. Soft and slow music unleashes the brain knots which have been tightened throughout the long day of routined office and family life. Fast tracks stimulates us and compel us to get energized to execute something more productive. In a way both the music do good in their own way.

Indian music therapy that’s the raga therapy have nemeity of specific ragas for the specific kinds of psychological and mental issues like negativity, non-acceptance, bewilderment in decision making, or depression. For instance, Raag Ahir Bhairava is beneficial for relaxation, Raga Dwijawanti quells paralysis, Raga Hansdhwani injects energy and vitality, Raga kafi fights with depression and anxiety. Similarly ragas like Keerwani, Kokilam, Neelambari, Ranjani, Hameer, cures the physical degeneration like kidney diseases, insomnia, arthritis, etc..

Read out another story of Sarah Myers, an extremely passionate and enthusiast student of Smith Cotton University. What she thinks of being into the musical environment; How she perceives being born as a musician; How she managed to gather scholarships.

Why Raga Therapy is more effective than other music

Like many valuable stuffs, our Indian heritage comprises of a treasurous element called ‘Shastriya’ or Ragadari sangeet. Our ragas, primarily ancient ragas, had been derived  considering a rational aspect relating to mind and health issues.

There are 72 melakarta ragas (parent) from which other numerous ragas have been created.  An ancient text, Swara Shastra states that 72 melakarta ragas (parent ragas) control the 72,000 important nadis or nerves in the body. “Neural research proves that the 72 ragas can control 72 nerves in the human body. Singing or performing a Raga, when bound to its specifications (lakshanas) and with purity in pitch (swara shuddhi) gives the performer complete control on the corresponding nerve.”

Indian ragas are modal or tonic : Indian musical system stands at one tonic note which is called swarit throughout a particular raga performance. All the subsequent notes gravitize on the swarit. This longevity at one chord for hours instills stability and peaceful mind hence more active brain. Also, this shadaj gravity imbibes groundedness and humility.

Exhibits specific note structure and nature: Ragas are the specific set of notes formed by the combinations and permutations of twelve notes in 22 shrutis. Listening to specific set of notes framework for a longer period plays a vital role in healing.

“The sonic patterns of musical currents are recorded with the help of oscilloscopes and the pitch, amplitude and wavelengths of the constituent sound waves are analysed in the laboratories of Brahm Varchas, which helps in studying the effect of music in stress management.”

Ragas That Heal

Sonic effects of the different combinations of swaras are the key factors in music therapy. Therapists and researchers are still analyzing the logic behind which ragas can really become instant healer for a particular disease. However, common day to day problem has indeed found solution in raga healing.   

Ragas do heal when rendered properly with correct pitch, balanced use of vadi-samvadi, addressing the proper feel and emotions. To name a few, Bihag and Bahar are used for sonorous sleep, Hindolam raga improves digestive power, Shivaranjani treats memory power. According to Mittal (2003) and Dr. Sairam (2006), Ahir Bhairava cures arthritis and hypertension, Darbari Kanhada cures headache; Yaman and Bhoopali increases concentration.

“Dr. Herbert Spencer experimented with the people suffering from high and low  blood pressure and found that fast melodies having sharp notes are effective in normalizing the blood pressure while slow melodies having soft or komal swaras are helpful in lowering the BP.” Thus, Ragas like Asawari and Malkauns works as a heeler for BP patients.”

I would conclude my paper by a logical statement by Sairam Sir,

“It has now been recognized that ragas are not just mere commodities of entertainment; the vibrations in their resonance can synchronize with one’s moods and health. By stimulating the moods and controlling the brainwave patterns, ragas could work as a complementary medicine.”

How a Therapist creates Music using Heart-beats

Music therapist and a guitarist Brian Schreck creates emotional music involving the heart beats of terminally ill children especially for soothing the grieving parents who lost their kids.

Schreck, who works at Starshine Hospice and Pallative Care, believes in the power of heartbeats creates genuine music using the heartbeats as the rhythms.

“Internal rhythm is so personal and I thought it could be used as a way to really help families feel connected to ones they’ve lost,” Schreck says. “By having the parents engage in the creative process of making the songs, it brings them together, preparing them for the grief and the pain they may soon encounter.”

Brian Schreck, 35 and the father of two, records the heartbeats of the terminally ill patients with the help of stethoscope and microphone, uploads in the computer and works with the parents for providing original scores. He collaborates with the parents acknowledging the child’s favorite songs and synced with the child’s heartbeats as rhythms.

When the child dies, he provides the completed track to the parents/family.

This is indeed a wisdom to pacify parent’s heart after their kid’s death and Schreck is upgrading his karmic account by keeping the child in the songs.

“This intervention is a coping mechanism and a way for parents to remember their kids when they’re gone,” says Schreck, who has created over 100 tracks inculcating heartbeats rhythms in the past two years.

Watch out the story here.

Learn Music To Increase Memory

Music is beyond what we think. Recent Music Therapy researches have proved that indulging in any kind of music improves Memory, Retention and Grasp.

Longer periods of listening or playing music resonates the brain’s cortical and subcortical areas and makes us recall the past knowledge and experiences clearly.

The valley manor care center of Montrose recently introduced a memory care unit called ‘iPod program’ or Music Therapy program, where the music is heard 24 by 7. Amazing results have been noticed among the patients as explained by their attendants.

“It’s therapeutic music for them” says Memory Care Specialist, Brandi Garcia. “It has therapeutic purpose and it ties those early childhood memories to the resident. So often we see these resident blossom. It’s absolutely amazing.”

Even the kids suffering from Dementia or other psychological disorders, often are recommended to enter the MCU, who end up being back to normal in a couple of weeks. They do not want to leave the place as the gentle tunes make them feel peaceful and at home.

Here is a short story about a kid, Tim, who had a chronic communication syndrome since birth. He could not speak among friends and was high on stammering when asked a question in class. His mom took him to the memory care where he was asked nothing. He had his own space to look around the musical gadgets. He explored all the stuffs for three days when his mom got him regularly. Until he picked a violin one day and started playing. He started learning and playing the instrument for hours, which resulted in comparatively clear speech. The words were completely understood with less stammers and he felt confident too.

It is highly essential to adopt music in being healthy, dynamic and responsive rather than just considering it a purpose of entertainment and relaxation.

Learn, play, listen, and compose music in order to enhance yourself in studies, work, relations and overall demeanor.

Read more stories to explore the facts on how music improves memory power and retention.