I read a very interesting book recently called ‘J.S.S. Bach’, by Martin Goodman – the book was twenty years in the making, a subtle novel that treads delicately around identity, values and life purpose. Otto Schalmik is a world-famous cellist and composer; Rosa Cline is a young musicologist researching his biography. Yet underlying this ostensibly professional relationship lies a web of bonds that have shaped their lives. Otto and Rosa have both, in different ways, emerged from the Holocaust. Otto is a former inmate of Dachau and Buchenwald, while Rosa is grandchild of the Nazi administrator of these same camps. Musician, musicologist and Nazi are joined by a shared love of classical music that transcends history.
There’s little question that humans are wired for music. Researchers recently discovered that we have a dedicated part of our brain for processing music, supporting the theory that it has a special, important function in our lives.
Listening to music and singing together has been shown in several studies to directly impact neuro-chemicals in the brain, many of which play a role in closeness and connection.
Now new research suggests that playing music or singing together may be particularly potent in bringing about social closeness through the release of endorphins.
There is a wonderful quote in the book ‘The magic Mountains’ by John E. Woods (1924) “Time is the element of narration… it is also the element of music, which itself measures and divides time, making it suddenly diverting and precious.”
Some time ago I wrote a blog ‘Music is emotional communication… explained’, where I discussed whether music makes you happy or sad. One of the fascinating things that has become clear is that people from very different cultures and backgrounds will often agree on whether a piece of music sounds happy or sad – making it a truly universal form of communication.
In another context Nelson Mandela drafted his memoirs while jailed in the notorious maximum security prison of Robben Island, where he spent 18 of the 27 years he was jailed by the Nationalist Party for his part in fighting for racial equality and the eradication of apartheid.
In prison, where the different pillars of, and approaches to, struggle interlaced – mass local protests, underground struggle, armed military units, and international demonstrations – music transcended political, tribal and linguistic differences to unite an oppressed people against a common enemy.
The prisoners also set up a choir in their isolation section, conducted by Joshua Zulu – a music teacher, with about ten members, including Mandela, and Selby Ngendani who was well-versed in popular music.
The prisoners also enjoyed a daily music programme played by the warders over the intercom system, including musicians such as Miriam Makeba, Harry Belafonte, Joan Baez and Nat King Cole.
Music has also been linked to dopamine release, involved in regulating mood and craving behavior, which seems to predict music’s ability to bring us pleasure. Coupled with the effects on endorphins, music seems to make us feel good and connect with others, perhaps particularly when we make music ourselves.
But music is more than just a common pleasure. New studies reveal how it can work to create a sense of group identity.
In a series of ingenious studies, researchers Chris Loerch and Nathan Arbuckle studied how musical reactivity — how much one is affected by listening to music — is tied to group processes, such as one’s sense of belonging to a group, positive associations with ingroup members, bias toward outgroup members, and responses to group threat in various populations.
The researchers found that “musical reactivity is causally related to basic social motivations” and that “reactivity to music is related to markers of successful group living.” In other words, music makes us affiliate with groups.
It is not just music that connects people, with music you also have dance. Footloose is a 1984 American musical comedy-drama film directed by Herbert Ross. It tells the story of Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon), an upbeat Chicago teen who moves to a small town in which, as a result of the efforts of a local minister (John Lithgow), dancing and rock music have been banned. The film is loosely based on actual events that took place in the small, rural, and religious community of Elmore City, Oklahoma.
From the film Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon) even quoted from the bible:
‘The oldest of times, people danced for a number of reasons. They danced in prayer or so that their crops would be plentiful or so their hunt would be good. And they danced to stay physically fit and show their community spirit. And they danced to celebrate. And that, that is the dancing that we’re talking about. Aren’t we told in Psalm 149: ‘Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song. Let them praise His name in the dance’?…It was King David. King David, who we read about in Samuel, and, and what did David do? What did David do? What did David do? ‘David danced before the Lord with all his might, leaping, leaping and dancing before the Lord.’ Leaping and dancing! Ecclesiastes assures us that there is a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to laugh and a time to weep. A time to mourn and there is a time to dance. And there was a time for this law, but not anymore. See, this is our time to dance. It is our way of, of celebrating life. It’s the way it was in the beginning. It’s the way it’s always been. It’s the way it should be now.’
One of the most captivating shows full of emotion that I have ever seen is Frankenstein at The Royal Opera House in London, Love, grief and the desire for power over death fuel a tragic spiral of events in Liam Scarlett’s ballet adaptation of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece.
Below is a link with an excerpt of the show.
A long time ago, when dance was expressed by simple dynamic movements of human, music was just the sound that made by the collision between pieces of woods or other simple objects. From there, music and dance go together and develop together until today. From the rudimentary musical instruments, people invented many other types of musical instruments which can make many different sounds.
With those types of sounds, the dancers feel the music and create new movements. We can say that music is the inspiration of dance. Therefore, dance cannot be without music. For example, the dancers got on the stage to perform a dance without music and without any other sound, the movements of dancers would not follow any rhythm then the dancers couldn’t connect to each other to follow the same rhythm. All the audiences saw on the stage was a bunch of people running and jumping around. However, it will be a huge difference if the dancers dance with music. Music will give the dancers the rhythm that can connect them together to make the same movements at the same time.
Music is like a director who is telling the dancers what to do, when to do, and when to stop. Not just like a director, music also give dancers the feelings when they are performing. With the connection between music and the movements, it will bring to the audience a feeling about the dance. While watching the dance, music is such an important letter that is written down with a lot of emotions by the writers who are the dancers. Therefore, music plays an important role in dancing. Once again, dance cannot be without music.
Not just music affects to dance but dance also affects to music. Dance is a way to express the music as well as to feel the music. There are lots of types of music with different rhythm and emotions. With that rhythm, dancers create the dances follow the rhythm to make the music, songs more emotional and it will be easier to touch the audients’ hearts. Each rhythm has different dance. For example, with fast, funny, and happy rhythms, the dance will be quick movements with some funny and definitive movements as well as the happy emotion on dancers’ faces. However, for slow and sad rhythms and music, the dance will be slow, smooth combine with emotions which are expressed from inside out of the dancers. Therefore, a different music has different type of dance to express the true meaning and emotion of the songs, music. Thus, dance is a main way to express and feel the music as well as bring that feeling to the audiences.
Follow the appearance and developments of countries in the world, each country has its own culture, festival, or religion. In the culture of the countries, there is an indispensable activity is dance. That dance is also the traditional dance which is always danced in the big festival. Each dance has its own music. Therefore, music becomes a sign of traditional dance. For example, when a song is play, by listening to the rhythm and the beat, people can know which type of dance that music belong to or that music belong to which type of dance. Music and dance develop beside each other and play the important roles in each other as well. Nowadays, many famous dances such as Samba of Brazil or Cha-Cha dance of Cuba are one of the inspiration for the composers to write their songs.
There is not just a relationship, music and dance become an insightful interrelationship. In many religions, it is one of the most sacred and considered as one of the biggest, most special forms of connecting to a deity. The Native American believe that the rain dance will connect them to the deity and send their message and petition to the deity. They believe that after seeing the dance which is also the symbol of the petition, the deity will make rain and give them a healthy life and successful crops.
The relationship between dance and music is very profound. They go together as one cannot miss the other. Dance cannot be without music. Without music, dance is just like some funny actions of dancers on the stage which is running and jumping around without a meaning, emotion, or feeling. Dance needs music to help to bring the emotion and the soul of the dance to the audience also help the dancers on the stage to connect to each other like an invisible string. Music needs dance to express the emotions that the composers put on the songs or music. Dance is also an inspirational for some of the most world-class composers to compose their music.
Especially, when dance and music come and connect, it is something more than a relationship. It is an interrelationship between people and deity. In their religions, there is a belief in music and dance which is they will bring and send the petition of people to the deity to bless them a successful crop and a healthy life. Relationship between dance and music is one of the special and indispensable relationships.
Finally, as I stated at the beginning of this blog, research has also shown music helps release dopamine, the neurotransmitter often referred to as the “happy chemical” associated with our brain’s reward system.
It’s why we get that ostensibly inexplicable “chill” during that moment when a song really speaks to us (think the guitar solo in “Earth’s Cry Heaven’s Smile by Santana). As it turns out, this sensation can be explained by the way music interacts with our brain chemistry.
Robert J. Zatorre and Valorie N. Salimpoor, both neuroscientists, have conducted extensive research on music’s impact on the brain. As they explain it:
When pleasurable music is heard, dopamine is released in the striatum, an ancient part of the brain found in other vertebrates as well, which is known to respond to naturally rewarding stimuli like food and sex and which is artificially targeted by drugs like cocaine and amphetamine.
Simply put, our brains are programmed to be happier when we listen to music. It speaks to us and affects us in ways we can only begin to fathom.
Music is an indispensable gift, and we should never take it, or the happiness it produces, for granted.
In the same way that music is beneficial to our health and overall outlook on life, happiness helps improve productivity.
Happiness isn’t something that is naturally bestowed upon people. It takes effort, and a willingness to focus on positive thinking, but your hard work will pay off.
As Teresa Amabile, a professor at Harvard Business School, and Steven Kramer, an independent researcher, contend in the New York Times:
‘Employees are far more likely to have new ideas on days when they feel happier. Conventional wisdom suggests that pressure enhances performance; our real-time data, however, shows that workers perform better when they are happily engaged in what they do.’
Along with greater rates of productivity, teamwork and creativity, research also suggests happy employees lead to increased profits.
Interestingly enough, there is also a link between listening to music and efficiency. A study found that nine out of 10 workers performed better while listening to some tunes.
There was also a correlation between efficiency and the type of music they listened to. For example, classical music has shown to aid in work that involves numbers. So if you’ve got math homework, Mozart might be your best friend.
This all goes to show that music is the secret ingredient to both happiness and productivity.
In other words, music is arguably the root of all that’s positive in this world, or as Mark Twain once said:
“Sing like no one is listening.
Love like you’ve never been hurt.
Dance like nobody’s watching,
and live like it’s heaven on earth.”