The trumpet sounded to signal the start of battle; music sends South African tribesmen into a trance so they are able to pierce various part of their body and the Spanish Flamenco music stirs up all manner of historic emotion.
Music, whether it is a single drum beat or an orchestral ensemble has connected with the human soul for centuries, but just what is it that makes it so powerful and as we face the ever increasing threat of the lunatic terrorist, could it be used as a preventative or corrective therapy?
From our conception to our eventual disintegration, the chances are everyone has enjoyed music in one form or another at some point during their life.
Whilst I’m not convinced conception music holds much water, there are many who strongly believe playing music to a foetus is beneficial. A study carried out in Spain in the summer of 2015 claims a 16 week old foetus can not only hear music but it opens its mouth and pokes out its tongue as if singing. However, before you tape your iPhone to your tummy, this experiment was carried out using a Babypod; a musical tampon that retails at around £130.
Not entirely sure it will prove a popular piece of pregnancy kit, but still.
Anyway, moving on; from the day you are born, you are going to hear music. In the car, on your phone, the TV, radio, everywhere in fact and of course much of it is nothing more than background noise of which you take very little notice.
But what about your favourite songs, the ones that make you leap up out of your chair, dance around the room, the tunes that literally reach inside and take control of your senses, the beat and rhythm that connects with your inner self?
Go on, we’ve all done it at one time or another. For those of us who can remember the test card on Saturday morning TV and would set up a pretend stage in the lounge and dance to a pretend audience. Or shaking your stuff alongside Pam’s People or Legs & Co on Top of the Pops; go to any nightclub, live concert or your local on New Year’s Eve and you will find people dancing and moving to the music.
Music has been used for centuries, from a battle cry: Joshua’s army marched around the walls of Jericho blowing their trumpets loudly, driving their enemy insane and finally bringing down the city walls; to more recent practices seen in 2008 when it was revealed US interrogators used ‘torture light’ – rock music played at ear splitting volume to drive the prisoners insane.
There are countless reports and stories of how regimes have used music to punish or torture people whilst at the opposite end of the scale, it calms the soul and can even put people into a trance. What is there in our psyche that is so susceptible to the rhythm of the beat?
Professor Susan Hallam, MBE of the Institute of Education, University of London reports in The Power of Music giving compelling evidence that music has an impact on the intellectual, social and personal development of children and young people and that it enhances social skills including learning how to work within a group and understanding compromise and co-operation.
“If the recipient finds it an enjoyable and rewarding experience then it will have an effect on concentration, literacy, numeracy, fine motor co-ordination and social skills.”
It can also improve self-esteem and increase self confidence that has the knock-on effect of positively influencing other areas of life, with musical groups fostering social cohesion and mutual support through its members who have a common interest.
Speech and music have a number of shared processing systems; the brain contains around 100 billion neurons (a specialised cell that transmits nerve impulses) and when something is repeated the neurons and synapses (junction between two nerve cells) are constantly working so the event is remembered, then with some ‘pruning’ the process is fine tuned.
This routine that the brain goes through is an essential part of human learning.
If people continue to be actively engaged with music, it will start to reorganise the functionality of the brain and how it processes information.
Music is also a form of escapism as well as a tribal identifier; in the modern western world young people might use it to relieve boredom or help lift depression and it can help adolescents identify with a particular peer group giving them a sense of belonging.
MUSIC OF LIFE
So with the image of the bugler sounding the charge or the drummer beating the retreat, I wonder as the world faces an ever growing terrorist threat, is it possible, is it conceivable that given early intervention or even at a later date, music might reach into the souls of the misled, the brainwashed and the radicals and truly help to bring world peace.
Thank you for the music by Abba …