Imagine a world without music.
No soothing lullabies. No lively pop. No stirring symphonies. No inspirational melodies. No romantic serenades and no tear-inducing dirges. Wouldn’t our emotions remain unstirred?
Music appeals to all human emotions. It pacifies and thrills us, uplifts and encourages us. It can delight us, and also reduce us to tears. Because music is so potent, it speaks straight to the heart. It is no wonder even the deaf can dance to it.
Despite the general entertaining allure of music, people choose the different genres for various reasons.
Denish Nyeko of Pece in Gulu town is in his late 20s. He loves music with a passion. When he is at home, his room constantly thunders with music from his music device. He has a shelf full of music collections of numerous genres. He does not forget to plug in earphones when on the move.
In fact, his love for music almost cost him his life in 2012. On that fateful day, Nyeko sported his earphones attached to his iPod, mounted his sports bike and sped off through one of the busy streets in Gulu town.
Lost in the sweetness of his music, he forgot he was riding, and that his eyes needed to work more, since his ears were already occupied. A speeding motorcyclist knocked him off his bike. He was sent flying into a ditch and lost consciousness.
Luckily and coincidentally, the accident happened in front of his neighbour, who rescued him and his treasured music gadgets. But the accident has not made him fall out of love with music.
“I collect all kinds of music. Music calms my soul. Music drives me nuts. Music makes me happy and sad,” he enthused. “As people resort to alcohol to erase bad memories, I use music. I use it to claim my heart back. Music inspires me.”
MUSIC AS THERAPY
Although Nyeko seems to take music as a form of entertainment and a solution to depressing social issues, Jacob Odur, an IT specialist, uses music as a work performance enhancer.
“Music makes me focus on the work I am doing. When at work, I wear my headphones, put one song on repeat, and play it for four hours. It makes me concentrate,” Odur said.
True. Music punctuates our daily routine. It is very common to see people with eaphones, or headphones, as they crank up whatever song appeals to them. It does not matter whether they are traveling, working on their monthly report, in bed, riding, reading, or padding along the busiest pothole-infested street.
Apart from the amusing benefits of music, Dr Alice Lamwaka, a pharmacologist, said one can use their love for music to better advantage, because music can provide 50 per cent therapy for different ailments that affect the mind, body and spirit.
According to Lamwaka, many cultures such as the Luo, believe the human body is made up of energy points that are sealed, and that is what makes one feel fine, or complete.
“The moment there is disturbance in the energy field, you get problems. Worse, if a hole is created in that energy field…then you get sick,” Lamwaka said. “So, how did those who lived in pre-modern medicine era mend such holes in their energy fields? By using folk music, and beating of instruments.”
She cited the effect of lullabies on babies.
“For instance, in the past, if a baby was crying without a clear reason, an older person would tell the caretaker to sing to the baby and rub its back; the baby would sleep, and wake up fine.”
Ever wondered why, for instance, you hardly finish listening to your favourite night radio show, punctuated with slow music interludes?
It is because “the science of music, being a soothing factor to our bodies, applies even to adults”.
Depending on its origin, Dr Lamwaka said, mental problems like depression, bipolar disorders, panic attacks, insomnia, dementia and anxiety can all be managed with music.
“Dancing is also therapeutic, because you dance to music. Depending on your age bracket, you have a rhythm that suits your mental ability,” she said.
Lamwaka’s theory is supported by Justin Thomas, on the website www.thenational.ae. According to Thomas, music therapy researchers, or musicologists, have uncovered at least three different ways in which we typically use music to help ourselves cope with negative moods: diversion, solace and discharge.
“Diversion is listening to music to deflect the mind from negative thoughts. Solace-seeking is listening to music that reflects a mood and taking comfort from the idea that we are not alone in our woes,” Thomas explained. “Discharge, on the other hand, is listening to emotive music to blow off steam, vent and express negative emotions.”
According to Lamwaka, the devices we buy, such as laptops and cellphones come with pre-installed music because “music not only heals, but also inspires us”.
Lyrics aside, instruments and sounds of nature, including gentle rain, waterfalls, and bird sounds are therapeutic.
“Birds are very good at singing. The birds that wake us up in the morning not only soothe, but inspire you when you concentrate on their sounds.”
“Make singing part of your routine; at least sing or listen to a slow song with a cool rhythm daily. You can also compose your own song, praising your child or partner,” Lamwaka said.
There you go; now sing!