Saturday, April 10, 2010

Music is Medicine, Music is Sanity

This is what it's all about, folks: Music is medicine, music is sanity. Not just for those afflicted with the problems of life, but for all of us. I can't say it any better than violinist Robert Gupta says it here in this TED talk:



I might add that the choice of Mr. Gupta to play the Prelude from Bach's Cello Suite No. 1 on violin is very apt. Not only does Bach transcribe very well from instrument to instrument—his solo pieces are always contrapuntal, the counterpoint lines being built up by alternating note-patterns in different registers—but Bach is a composer whose work within fixed forms is always full of surprises as well as known patterns. In the Cello Suites, all the movements are classical courtly dance forms; but what he does with them is uniquely expressive of his own spirit and intellect.

Bach's music is indeed very sane, even at its darkest.

Bach does have the duende, the dark soul, the dark night, and can be quite powerfully emotional at times. Yet the emotion is contained within forms that allow it retain a classical elegance. It is not "sturm und drang" (storm and stress) such as we find in later German Romantic composers: Bach's emotion is always restrained, never heart-on-the sleeve. That makes it all the more powerful, for being less overtly dramatic.

So it's appropriate to hear Bach after this talk, as Bach exemplifies the very healthy psychological attitude of: I may act crazy sometimes, but I am not insane. Life can be insane; when we act crazy, we're coping with life; we act crazy, sometimes, so that we do not go insane.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Elisabeth said...

The redemptive power of music, its therapeutic value, and its power to heal is spelled out beautifully here, Art.

Thanks for telling us about Robert Gupta's talk and music.

I had not heard of him before.

1:46 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

My pleasure! I think the power to heal is what really what it's about for me: because to heal means to make whole: to de-fragment, to re-associate and re-connect.

There are a lot of other great talks on TED, BTW; I've added a link in the post to the TED website.

1:48 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth said...

Thanks for the link to TED, Art. I'm watching the one featuring Temple Grandin right now. It's fascinating.

1:56 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Again, my pleasure. There are a lot of very good talks at TED that are worth looking into. It's a great way to spread some great ideas.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Jim Murdoch said...

You’ll have no arguments from me. I have music on constantly. I’m not sure about the Bach played on the violin (although our cockatiel joined in quite happily) but I’m listening to it on the cello just now and am enjoying it. I have a fair bit of Bach but I don’t play him too often. I’m more prone to pick some Vivaldi when I’m in a Baroque mood. Christ knows how many times I’ve heard The Four Seasons and I’ve yet to grow tired of it.

Carrie and I both enjoyed The Soloist when we saw it a while back. And Shine too.

1:19 PM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Thanks, Jim. In the past few years I've developed a growing fondness for Telemann. I think he's under-appreciated and underrated; there are lot of great sonatas and concerti, and he was very prolific. There's a cheerfulness to his music, and a sort of restrained classicism, that makes his pieces very good for stimulating background listening, or for feeling energized.

11:09 PM  

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