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Music: Calming, Cathartic, Meditative

I’ve had one of those days: I’m tired, I’m irritable, and in the mood to complain. But I’m British, so instead I’ll have an Anadin and put on a CD. But why does the act of putting on a CD or the radio have a calming effect; why is it that music has this relaxing quality?

Perhaps listening to music is an escapist pursuit that takes us away from the world and worries around us, music providing an almost alternative reality constructed from organised sounds, chords, and noises that are not of the “real” world? Perhaps music has a more meditative effect, granting us a moment of peace, our mind a moment of repose? Perhaps music operates as white noise and clears our mind of the cumulative sounds of the day? Or perhaps music has a cathartic effect? For Aristotle, Greek Tragedy had a cathartic effect on the spectator and purged them of their excess emotions. Could music similarly cause us to emotionally perspire, music releasing the excess emotions and irritations that we have allowed to build up? I don’t have the answer and I’m not sure I want to know what it is, but I do know that music can have this effect on me. What are you thoughts?

That said, music doesn’t always calm me, the same piece of music having the potential to irritate, rather than calm. Indeed, while sometimes I need to blast out a rock piece, sometimes I need a folk ballad or classical string quartet (rarely do I need whale song, but I can see the appeal). Tonight, though, I shall purge the excesses of the day by playing Bass Trombone in my local Brass Band (@bradfordbrass).

 

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