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Music: An Elixir

         Music is a fundamental attribute of the human species. Virtually all countries, from the most primitive to the most advanced, make music. It’s been true through history and it’s true throughout an individual’s lifespan. In tune or not, we humans sing and hum; in time or not, we clap and sway; in step or not we dance and bounce. The human brain and nervous system are hard-wired to distinguish music from noise and response to rhythm and repetition, tones and tunes. Is this a biological accident or does it serve a purpose? It’s not possible to say. Still a varied group of studies suggests that music may enhance human health and performance.
Music is an art form and cultural activity whose medium is sound organizes in time. General definition of music include common elements such as pitch (Which governs melody and harmony), rhythm(and its associated concepts, tempo meter and articulation), dynamics (loudness and softness) and sonic qualities of timber and texture which are sometimes termed the color of musical sound. Different styles or types of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping; there are solely instrumental pieces, solely vocal pieces (such as songs without instrumental accompaniment) and pieces that combine singing and instruments. In many cultures, music is an important part of people’s way of life ,as it plays a key role in religious rituals, rite of passage ceremonies, social and cultural activities, ranging from amateur Karaoke  singing to playing in an amateur funk band or singing in a community choir. People may make music as a hobby, like teen playing Cello in a youth orchestra or work as professional musician or singer. Many ethnographic studies demonstrate that music is a participatory, community based activity. Music is experienced by individuals in a range of social settings ranging from being alone to attending a large concertforming a music community which cannot be understood as a function of individual will or accident; it includes both commercial and non-commercial participants with a shared set of common values. Musical performance take different forms in different cultures and socio-economic milieus.
         Music, though is an integral part of human social and cultural activity, it is also used as clinical therapy. Music therapy is an interpersonal process in which a trained therapist used music and all of its facets – physical, emotional, mental, social, aesthetic and spiritual –to help clients to improve or maintain their health. In some instances, the clients’ needs are addressed directly through music; in others they are addressed through the relationships that develop between the
Client and therapist. Music therapy is used with individuals of all ages and with a variety of conditions, including psychiatric disorder, medical problem, physical disabilities, substance abuse issues, communication disorders, interpersonal problems and aging. It is also used to improve learning, build self-esteem, reduce stress, and support physical exercise and facilitates a host of other health related activities. Music therapists may encourage clients to sing, play instruments, creates songs as do their musical activities. Like any other sound, music arrives at the ear in the form of sound waves. The external ear collects sound waves and the ear canal funnels them to the eardrum. As the waves strike the eardrum, they cause it to vibrate. The vibration are relayed along the chain of tiny bones in the middle ear until they reach the third bone, the stapes, which connects to the cochlea.The cochlea is a busy little world of its own. It is filled with fluid that surrounds some 10,000 to 15,000 tiny hairs cells or cilia. Vibrations of the stapes send fluid waves through the spiral-shaped cochlea. The fluid waves produce swaying movements of the hair cells. In turn, these cells release chemical neurotransmitters that activate the auditory nerve, sending miniature electric currents to the auditory cortex in the temporal lobe of the brain.From there, things gets even more complicated. Studies using MRI and positron emission tomography (PET) scans suggests that nerve networks in different parts of the brain bear primary responsibility for decoding and interpreting various properties of music. For example, a small area in the right temporal lobe is essential to perceive pitch, which forms the basis of melody (patterns of pitch over time), chords (several pitches that sound at the same time) and harmony (two or more melodies at the same time). Another nearby center is responsible for decoding timbre, the quality that allows the brain to distinguish between instruments that are playing the same note. A different part of the brain, the cerebellum, processes rhythm, and the frontal lobes interpret the emotional content of music. And music’s powerful enough to be “spine-tingling “can light up the brain’s reward center much like pleasurable stimuli ranging from alcohol to chocolate.
      One of the earliest mentions of music therapy was in Al- Farabi’s treatise “Meaning of the intellect” which described the therapeutic effects of music on the soul. Music has long been used to help people deal with their emotions. In the 17th century, the scholar Robert Burton’s “The Anatomy of Melancholy” argued that music and dance were critical in treating mental illness, especially melancholia. He noted that music has an excellent power- to expel many other diseases and he called “it’s sovereign remedy against despair and melancholy”. He pointed out that Antiquity ,Canus,aRhodian fiddler, used  music to make a melancholy man merry- a lover more enamored,a religious man more devout. In the Ottoman Empire, mental illness were treated with music. In November 2006, Dr.Michael J Crawfordy and his colleagues also found that music therapy helped schizophrenic patients. Albert Einstein had lifelong love of music (particularly the works of Bach and Mozart), once stating that life without playing music would be inconceivable to him. In some interviews Einstein even attributed much of his scientific intuition  to music, with his son  Hans recounting  that “ whenever he felt that he had come to the end of the road or into a difficult situation in his work, he would take refuge in music and that  would usually resolved all his difficulties. Even, C.V Raman, Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam( associated with Veena) & many other famous scientists had very close to a musical instrument and a form of music.  Research has revealed that music stimulates all areas of the brain. Because of this, music directly affects our sense, making it a multisensory experiences involving the auditory, visual and tactile senses. As a result music can have a direct impact on individual’s physical, emotional and cognitive functioning.
         Music that is soothing and relaxing can help students to beat stress or anxiety while studying. Background music may improve focus on a task by providing motivation and improving mood. During long study sessions, music can aid endurance. Classical music is peaceful and harmonious, making it one of the best options to listen to when studying. It seems that there is evidences that Mozart improve mental performance. They call it the “Mozart’s effect”. If you want exercise your brain, listen to music. It provides a total brain work out. Research has shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure and pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness and memory. There have been lots of studies done which prove that listening to classical songs helps to boost your memory and also help you to concentrate better on whatever or you are doing.  According to a study, people who listened to Mozart’s music showed an increased in brain wave activity that’s linked directly to memory. Thus, Music is no doubt an elixir

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. Presently, he is teaching Mathematics at NIELIT. Jugeshwor can be reached at: [email protected] Or WhatsApp’s No: 9612891339.

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