“Music creates order out of chaos: for rhythm imposes unanimity upon the divergent, melody imposes continuity upon the disjointed, and harmony imposes compatibility upon the incongruous.” –Yehudi Menuhin
Melodic impulse suffuses our lives. We’re creatures of rhythm, beginning with biological cadence—the rush and wash of our mother’s blood sustains us. Our emotional responses to music go deeper yet.
First as inquisitive child, then dancer and choreographer, and finally as storyteller, aural patterns enrich my existence. When I discovered Bach, especially as interpreted by Yo-Yo Ma, his suites blended with breath and heartbeat, freeing me to move into relaxed openness where creativity thrives. Count this as therapy on many levels.
Different musical patterns stimulate our brain’s emotional, motor, and creative areas. Yet generalizations that the right brain equates with creativity and the left, logic, have proven to be an oversimplification. Better to visualize different parts of our brain lighting up dependent upon pitch, volume, tonality, and rhythm.
Now ponder the secondary effects of music on involuntary responses. Our vision, language, and memory align to tuneful variations. This torrent generates the subjectivity of our song choices. I won’t even get into how our unique chemistry transforms those reactions.
The one hardwired response? Emotion. The basic distinction between overtly sad and happy tunes affects us. As we age, those effects increase.
So while Mary McLaughlin’s “Sealwoman/Yundah” provided a cadence to strive for in Soundings: Water Elemental, the piece may—or may not—elicit the same response in you. How successful my writing proves to be in reaching that pinnacle? I leave that to you, dear readers.
How does music elevate your life? What are your current favorites?