Background - Evergreen
Music Hath Charms
Music is a prominent and intricate part of man's lifestyle
In biblical times,
when King Saul was emotionally and mentally troubled, he used music to heal his troubled soul
"Seek out a man who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass that when the evil
spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shall be well" (I Samuel
16:16). Using music to heal the body and soul was common knowledge to societies in that day
physicians would often prescribe music in addition to the accepted medical practices. When
depression and trouble descended on King Saul, the royal physician ordered David (later King
David) to play his harp for the King ".. when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that
David took an harp and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil
spirit departed from him" (I Samuel 16:23).
In Greek mythology there were two gods associated with music, Dionysus (Bacchus) and
Apollo. Dionysus the "god of wine and orgies", employed "wild, unrestrained and
undisciplined music" - Music, wine, and dancing was an intricate part of the sensual experience
of worship and orgies. Apollo, the "god of light, reason, and order" , accentuated precise
mathematical forms of music. Music followed set rhythms and intervals that moved
in and out of different keys. Worshipers of Apollo strived to obtain equilibrium and peace in
their lives and environments through music. In the old Greek culture, Aristotle practiced his
belief that music was the key to emotional and spiritual purification. Likewise, Plato used music
and exercise to achieve good health of body, mind, and soul.
Similarly, in later years Confucius' philosophies and teachings of "ritual and music are the
clues to harmonious living" reflected his love of music. Confucius believed that music had
direct effects on the mind, body, soul, and emotions, both individually and socially.
In like manner, during the Renaissance Era, William Congreve wrote the play "The Mourning
Bride", in which the famous quotation "Music hath charms to sooth the savage breast ",
expressed the belief and practice that music can console many a woe. Even though it is
misquoted as "Music has charms to sooth the savage beast," the meaning is still the same. The
term "breast" refers to the terminology of that day, where the breast held the emotions and soul
of man. Savage breast held the meaning of someone whose emotions were of a strong, dark
nature. Such emotions as anger, fury, jealousy, etc., were considered savage and uncivilized.
Breast also referred to the chest area of a warrior's armor called the breastplate. Historically,
societies believed that music was a powerful and important part of their lives, which should be
used to its' fullest.
The effects of music on the human body are numerous and beneficial when applied properly.
First, music with its changes in volume, intervals, and tempo causes changes in bodily functions.
These changes include: "pulse rate, respiration and blood pressure. If an adult or a child feels
lethargic, he should choose music that has major chords, a fast tempo, and is played moderately
loud. This combination is revitalizing, energizing, and stimulating. Likewise, when a child is
hyperactive and needs to calm down, or an adult is tense and needs to relax, he should choose
music that has minor chords, a slow tempo, and is played softly. This combination induces
relaxation. The higher the note, the more rapid the vibrations, which "produce a strong nervous
stimulus" that increases the pulse, respiration, and blood pressure, consequently, stimulating the
body to activity. Similarly, the lower the note, the slower the vibrations, which "produce a
decrease in nervous stimulus" that decreased the pulse, respiration, and blood pressure, thereby
signaling the body to relax and rest. The volume of the music that the individual is listening to
will produce different emotions. These emotions have direct effects on how the individual feels
physically. Loud music "may give the listener a feeling of being protected." Whereas, soft
music "may give the listener a feeling of intimacy and serenity"