A Hidden Source of Energy and Transformation
By Jill Mattson, Musician
Music was once a powerful force, but we have forgotten how many ways it can be used - from improving work production and healing to influencing large groups of people. In an example, work chants were used with sailors, field workers, slaves and soldiers to increase their productivity.
Musical rhythms created patterns of organization and controlled movement – for an activity such as rowing a boat. Music created unity and cooperation among workers. The musical rhythm set a fast work pace. It also helped people focus on the music and not the hard, and arduous work.
Some songs give people identity, like “our” song, and songs for a sports team, group or nation. Jingles can persuade people to accept a certain point of view. Jingles are used extensively in China to promote political points of view and in advertising to encourage people to buy a product.
When ancient conquerors came into a new land, they quickly outlawed local music – as the local music strengthened identity and its old ways. The Russians did this in Finland during World War II, outlawing the music, Finlandia, as it gave the local people courage and strength. Music has more power than we give it credit for.
Special uplifting music can change a person’s outlook, which creates a window to heaven – a new way of feeling and thinking. Ancient people referred to music that altered and uplifted a person’s conscious as the “music of the spheres.”
Author Viola Pettit Neal, wrote about a novel use of music, “The conquest of evil will ultimately be accomplished by use of rituals of sound and form. For evil is that which is disharmonious and cannot exist in harmonious pattern of sound and form.
The word ‘ritual’ in its true definition is an orderly movement of sound and geometrical form in sequential patterns.”
(Viola Pettit Neal, Through the Curtain, 1962.)
Neal suggests that harmonious music can overcome disharmony (evil). In san example, many African tribes surround someone who has behaved badly, singing his name and song to him – reestablishing harmony. It makes sense that Osama bin Laden outlawed music for his followers. Guess it would be hard to prepare for a suicide bombing mission, when you were humming a breezy Beach Boys tune. Such harmony would make it near impossible to get people do heinous deeds.
Could we use music to change people that have done unscrupulous things? Why not use harmonic and healing music: In prisons, with children in trouble or business with poor reputations? Where negotiations are taking place? What about on a war front? How serious could people be about fighting, when everyone was singing Silent Night?
Research has shown that people easily believe others in a distant country are enemies - if they don’t know them. In contrast, if they know the people, they don’t want them to be hurt.
What about sharing songs from countries to lesson international tension? If people like a country’s music, it will be harder to demonize their people - as the enemy. For example, racism against black people declined in the end of the last century, when young people loved black rap music.