Friday, 20 August 2010

How's Your Musical Health?

How are you feeling today? On top of the world, or a bit peaky? Me? Well, my back’s still a bit stiff after surgery a few years back and I seem to have developed a stabbing pain through my left shoulder and…oh, yes, music.

Rather than not taking my vitamins, engaging in vigorous exercise or taking particular note of what my doctor tells me, it seems that the real problem is that I have not been listening to enough music. This is according to Dr Maoshing Ni (thanks to Alan for the link) who claims that music has therapeutic effects which affect longevity. Judging by the comments in his blog on the subject, Dr Mao would probably prescribe me a course of early Kinks singles for my back and perhaps an album or two of Britpop compilations for the shoulder. Actually probably not, as his main recommendation is for large doses of classical music as the real secret to a long life and produces as exhibit A the fact that all orchestral conductors live to a grand old age despite having to get to grips with the dissonance and shifting time signatures of the likes of Stravinsky and Shostakovich.

I have to say that I have a certain amount of sympathy with his view, having been a music listener for some considerable time. There is no doubt that much mental and spiritual well-being can be derived from music, unless you count ‘Tie A Yellow Ribbon’ and the world would undoubtedly be a poorer place without it. But as to whether it can cure all ills and lead to a longer life, well, let’s say that is open to debate.

The difficulty with all this is that there appears to be a difference in effect between those that create and those that consume music. As I have pointed out on numerous occasions in this blog, those who enter the world of music to produce art of the highest calibre often have a shortened lifespan themselves so it seems a little unfair that those that listen to the product of their creativity benefit from enhanced longevity. I’m not sure that the likes of Hendrix, Morrison, Lennon and all the others who died young would be overly enamoured of the fact that the rest of us are living it up for decade after decade on the back of their musical therapy but then who said life was fair?

10 comments:

Charlie said...

Your last paragraph said it all. The irony is overwhelming.

music obsessive said...

Isn't it just, Charlie? Still, good to hear that I'm set for the duration. After the amount of notes I've consumed, I must be on for 120 or so!

luminous muse said...

No, It's not fair. But we can still enjoy, and they would have liked us to.

Adrian said...

A steady musical diet of pie is good for you.

music obsessive said...

Luminous - I'm sure you're right...and I'm not complaining!

Adrian - Yes, I must get a few more in haha!

Jayne said...

Ooo - good summary! So we ride off their effort; they burn themselves out with creation and we live off their excess? And there was me thinking the only hazard of being a musician was getting knocked out of the charts by X-Factor singers.

Perplexio said...

Excellent post! I do find music very therapeutic. There are certain CDs that I find particularly comforting when I'm in a foul mood/not doing well.

And sometimes our musical heroes can put into lyrics and music our sentiments far better than we can ever dream to articulate on our own.

But I think one of the biggest reasons music is so therapeutic is the whole solitude issue. When we're down/sad/whatever and we feel alone in our sadness and hear a song that captures that sentiment perfectly it's like a little nudge from above telling us that hey-- we aren't alone in feeling that way... someone felt this way before and they felt it so strongly they wrote and recorded a song about it. It makes the rough patches a bit easier to manage.

music obsessive said...

Hi Jayne - actually, it's beginning to make me feel a bit guilty, like I've been draining their life-force just by listening. Of course this doesn't apply to X-factor singers who have no life-force...

Hi Perplexio - you make a very good point there and one which I am sure is at the root of Dr Mao's pet theory. By resolving certain mental conflicts, we should all be happier people. Of course some music by people I shall not name here has the opposite effect so be sure to pick the right poison :)

drewzepmeister said...

Music has been my world for as long as I could remember. It's a huge part of who I am, whatever the emotion I may ride. Great post!

music obsessive said...

Thanks Drew - I think that probably applies to all of us!