"And ever against eating cares Lap me in soft Lydian airs; Married to immortal verse Such as the meeting soul may pierce, In notes with many a winding bout Of linked sweetness long drawn out; With wanton heed, and giddy cunning, The melting voice through mazes running; Untwisting all the chains that tie The hidden soul of harmony." - Milton.
"Since then, though heard on earth no more, Devotion and her daughter love Still bid the bursting spirit soar To sounds that seem as from above, In dreams that day's broad light can not remove."
It is a well-known fact that music may be made to quicken or retard the beating of the pulse. This shows something of its action upon the heart and consequently upon other parts of the body. Under the influence of music we readily see that new states of vibration are set up. When the vibration is excessive it will be followed by a reactionary condition, for Nature is always trying to establish equilibrium. If we are led to one extreme, then, before poise can be established, we swing over to the other extreme; therefore, that which may prove beneficial up to a certain point, beyond that point may become harmful. All unnatural or excessive stimulation induced by the seeker after health cannot bring about the desired end. Temperance must be observed in music as well as in everything else. There can be musical intoxication which may become as unhealthy to mind and body as strong drink. A person should use the same good judgment in the question of music as he would use in any other matter in life.
In the healing of the sick by music, many things must be taken into consideration, and the question of temperament plays an important part. We must not think that the music which would be helpful to one is going to prove most advantageous to another. Only in the most general way can laws be laid down for the giving of musical treatment. Each person in the last analysis must be made an individual study so that the particular need may become known and the right music supplied in the fulfilling of that need. In a general way one might formulate or suggest methods that would undoubtedly prove more or less satisfactory in possibly the majority of cases. For instance, when a patient is feverish and restless, quieting music would generally tend to bring rest, and to a marked degree dispel the fever. Again, to those people who have lost a great deal of vitality and whose life currents are at a low ebb, music beginning very quietly at first, but gradually increasing in volume and suggesting a great deal of brightness and hope, would exert a renewing power on both mind and body. In cases of melancholia, music having considerable variety, with a motive of joy in it, would tend to attract the patient's attention away from his self-centered condition and to awaken new thoughts and interests in his mind. Whenever it is found that there is too much mental or physical tension, music should be used in such a way as to produce thorough relaxation of mind and body, A patient should be shown that in listening to music no mental effort is required, that it is much better, while listening, to give the mind an entire rest and to enjoy the music without effort of any kind. The only way to get the best from it is to give one's self up to it and not try to understand it through mind, but just to feel it as one might feel the warmth or the glow of a fire without having necessarily to think much about it; in other words, to enter into the enjoyment of it without effort. All tension, whether mental or physical, should be overcome through soothing or restful music. All devitalised or too relaxed conditions should be overcome by music with action and purpose in it, music to vitalise and renew. For sleeplessness, monotonous, soothing music is required, where the theme repeats itself over and over, the music rising and falling in a rhythmic way, much as a mother might sing to her child in order to put it to sleep. And yet such music should have nothing of the mournful in it, but rather some happy theme such as the singing of the birds, the running of the brooks, the swaying of the grain, the beauty of the flowers, and all things that would call out the sense of beauty with a sense of rest. Sluggish circulation may be quickened through bright, lively music.
I think, however, that the person who would give musical treatment in a musical way should be thoroughly trained for his work. The vocal or instrumental musician must have all the qualifications of which the successful mental healer is possessed. The one who would make a profession of healing mental and physical disease with music must be a thorough judge of character, in order to be able to understand the needs of the patient; he must exercise the best of judgment in the music he selects; he must watch as carefully to note the effects produced by it, as a medical doctor would watch to note the effects of his medicine; he must take a very thorough and sympathetic interest in his patient and he must also be thoroughly in love with his work; he must remember in his production of music that no matter how good it may be in a technical way, technique only will not prove sufficient; he must be able to put his whole heart and mind into his music in order to reach the heart and mind of his patient. Very often a person whose technique is not of the best can put a great deal more of heart and soul into his music and get better results from it than can another who is perhaps more technically correct, but who puts only his mentality and physical technique into his vocal or instrumental music. It is the magnetic singer who stirs the audience, and magnetism is far more the result of what one feels than of what one thinks. The thinking may add to the artistic value, but the feeling is absolutely necessary if one wishes to convey to another the real soul of music, the life-giving and the life-inspiring part of it. The mind is always quickened and renewed through the awakened soul, and this quickening and renewing in turn sets up a new physical vibration causing one's outer life to respond to the inner music and express itself in physical harmony and health.