Music Therapy (or, one of the reason I am why I am)

so to start things off here I was just trawling (I prefer that to trolling, as I don;t see myself as a troll) through the forums I frequent and someone linked me to this:

and conequently this…

it’s a report on the theraputic, some would say, medicinal benefits of music. I was smiling internally at the mentions of Royksopp’s ‘Melody A.M.’ album, which has been a staple in my music collection (technically) since it’s release, in 2001. As for Aphex twin, I guess it’s a case of what bits you listen to, as I’d hardly call ‘Elephant Song’ or ‘Come To Daddy’  particularly relaxing.

‘Elephant Song’

‘Come To Daddy’ Vs The Matrix (thanks to Profeshian)

I concur with the minimalist electronica, though, as electronic music has always held my attention since childhood. Not that I don’t listen to anyhting else, quite the contrary in fact, but I do like a good chilled, tune that will stay in my head for days. Unfortunaltely for me most of that music is associated with summer months, and the beautiful wearhter they bring, so if I do suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, the lack of such music compounds it several fold.

An artist I have particularly enjoyed, over summer is Jeff McIlwain, a.k.a Lusine, L’usine, and Lusine ICL, who has just released his new album ‘A Certain Distance’ on the only record label I catually follow, Ghostly International. His music is quite varied, but only within a small, glitchy nieche he resides in. If you have a good sound system, or a good pair of ear/headphones you can really hear everything in his songs. There is a lot of detail you would otherwise miss, particularly in the percussion. Once I’ve listened to ‘A Certain Distance’ in it’s entireity I’ll expand on my ramblings about Mr. McIlwain, but back to the topic at hand, music therapy.

This year I was diagnosed with Anxiety. This has brought about many changes, which have sucked a bit, but ultimately I know I’ll be better off having gone through it, but music is probably one of the things that has kept me calm. I use Brian Eno’s Bloom application for the iPhone as a sleep aid at night, for example.

Demo of ‘Bloom’ (thanks to stuartdredge)

but I have found that I feel much less pain and experience much less of the strange, and often alarming physical sensations when I have music on, than I do if I’m listening to one of Leo Laporte’s netcasts (sorry mate, I still love your work!) or if Jon Stewart is blaring on the TV as I make dinner.

I definitely think there is some credence to having favourite pieces of music that ‘calm you down’ Even music you wouldn’t pick. My fiance has had times where she has fallen asleep to the dulcet tones of Demon Hunter and Lucerin Blue, which would normally be ebough to keep anyone awake. My personal experience is that music also helps you to remember. Songs as diverse as Sigur Ros’ ‘Olsen Olsen’ and The Killers ‘All These Things that I’ve Done’ both reminds me of the Invisible Children Rescue event, which took place in Christchurch (and worldwide) in April this year. Coldplay’s ‘Viva La Vida (or Death and all his friends)’ will always remind me of my first trip to Australia to visit Susan’s mum. There are sepcific pieces of road that, to me, cannot be travelled without playing a set of songs that I’ve imprinted on that journey years ago, like the endless stream of Iron Maiden we had on a roadtrip through Central Otago in 2008. I’m not the only person who does this, although Susan is the only other person I can think of right now.
On top of this, I’ve found music maintains or increases my ability to imagine. I’ve always had an active imagination, but in the years that I have built up my own music collection this has accelerated. To use Lusine as an example again, when I listen to any of (but not only) the songs from ‘Serial Hodgepodge’ and the remix album ‘Podgelism’ I think of bright orange sunsets, viewed from the balcony of a house, where a few good friends are gathered for a drink, dinner, and a get-together. If I listen to Shapeshifter’s ‘Stryka’ I think of getting away from a factory with a life-threatening secret in my posession, and having to drive whatever car I’m really fancying at the time like a lunatic to escape, in this case it’s currently the Morgan Aeromax, but it has been the Land Rover SVX, and the Mercury Commuter wagon…

So what does music as therapy have to do with me? An awful lot, right from when my mum sang to my unborn foetus (that really doesn’t sound that great, does it) to using Lusine to help me unwind and think of better times. Music has seen me through numerous operations (mum and Dad will remember one operation where I joked about listening to Pink Floyd’s ‘On The Run’ as the nurse wheeled me in my hospital bed to the operating theatre), and times where I’ve felt low and tired and sick of life in general. It has been a great gift, as has my appreciation of it.

Well, that about wraps it up for this post. I’ll be back later, but not regularly.

until then…


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