Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Harmony of Nature and Human Music

Abe V Rotor


Identify the sounds of nature in this painting, translate them into notes. Arrange the notes into melody, and expand it into a composition.Try with an instrument - guitar, piano, violin, flute. This is your composition.Mural detail, Nature: Rivulets and Streams, AVR 2011

E
thnic music makes a wholesome life; it is therapy.


Have you ever noticed village folks singing or humming as they attend to their chores? They have songs when rowing the boat, songs when planting or harvesting, songs of praise at sunrise, songs while walking up and down the trail, etc. Seldom is there an activity without music. To them the sounds of nature make a wholesome music.

According to researcher Leonora Nacorda Collantes, of the UST graduate school, music influences the limbic system, called the “seat of emotions” and causes emotional response and mood change. Musical rhythms synchronize body rhythms, mediate within the sphere of the autonomous nervous and endocrine systems, and change the heart and respiratory rate. Music reduces anxiety and pain, induces relaxation, thus promoting the overall sense of well being of the individual.

Music is closely associated with everyday life among village folks more than it is to us living in the city. The natives find content and relaxation beside a waterfall, on the riverbank, under the trees, in fact there is to them music in silence under the stars, on the meadow, at sunset, at dawn. Breeze, crickets, running water, make a repetitious melody that induces sleep. Humming indicates that one likes his or her work, and can go on for hours without getting tired at it. Boat songs make rowing synchronized. Planting songs make the deities of the field happy, so they believe; and songs at harvest are thanksgiving. Indeed the natives are a happy lot.

Farm animals respond favorably to music, so with plants.

In a holding pen in Lipa, Batangas, where newly arrived heifers from Australia were kept, the head rancher related to his guests the role of music in calming the animals. “We have to acclimatize them first before dispersing them to the pasture and feedlot.” He pointed at the sound system playing melodious music. In the duration of touring the place I was able to pick up the music of Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven and Bach. It is like being in a high rise office in Makati where pipe in music is played to add to pleasant ambiance of working. Scientists believe that the effect of music on humans has some similarity with that of animals, and most probably to plants.

Which brings us to the observation of a winemaker in Vienna. A certain Carlo Cagnozzi has been piping Mozart music to his grapevines for the last five years. He claims that playing round the clock to his grapes has a dramatic effect. “The grapes ripen faster,” he said, adding that it also keeps away parasites, fruit bats and birds. Scientists are now studying this claim to enlarge the limited knowledge on the physiological and psychological effects of music on plants and animals.

Once I asked a poultry raiser in Teresa, Rizal, who also believes in music therapy. “The birds grow faster and produce more eggs,” he said. “In fact music has stopped cannibalism.” I got the same positive response from cattle raisers where the animals are tied to their quarters until they are ready for market. “They just doze off, even when they are munching,” he said, adding that tension and unnecessary movement drain the animals wasting feeds that would increase the rate of daily weight gain. In a report from one of the educational TV programs, loud metallic noise stimulates termites to eat faster, and therefore create more havoc.

There is one warning posed by the proponents of music therapy. Rough and blaring music agitates the adrenalin in the same way rock music could bring down the house.

The enchantment of ethnic music is different from that of contemporary music.

Each kind of music has its own quality, but music being a universal language, definitely has commonalities. For example, the indigenous lullaby, quite often an impromptu, has a basic pattern with that of Brahms’s Lullaby and Lucio San Pedro’s Ugoy ng Duyan (Sweet Sound of the Cradle). The range of notes, beat, tone, expression - the naturalness of a mother half-singing, half-talking to her baby, all these create a wholesome effect that binds maternal relationship, brings peace and comfort, care and love.

Serenades from different parts the world have a common touch. Compare Tosselli’sSerenade with that of our Antonio Molina’s Hating Gabi (Midnight) and you will find similarities in pattern and structure, exuding the effect that enhances the mood of lovers. This quality is more appreciated in listening to the Kundiman (Kung Hindi Man, which means, If It Can’t Be). Kundiman is a trademark of classical Filipino composers, the greatest of them, Nicanor Abelardo. His famous compositions are

· Bituin Marikit (Beautiful Star)
· Nasaan Ka Irog (Where are You My Love)
· Mutya ng Pasig (Muse of the River Pasig)
· Pakiusap (I beg to Say)

War drums on the other hand, build passion, heighten courage, and prepare the mind and body to face the challenge. It is said that Napoleon Bonaparte taught only the drumbeat of forward, and never that of retreat, to the legendary Drummer Boy. As a consequence, we know what happened to the drummer boy. Pathetic though it may be, it's one of the favorite songs of Christmas.

Classical music is patterned after natural music.

The greatest composers are nature lovers – Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and our own Abelardo, Molina, Santiago, and San Pedro. Beethoven, the greatest naturalist among the world’s composers was always passionately fond of nature, spending many long holidays in the country. Always with a notebook in his pocket, he scribbled down ideas, melodies or anything he observed. It was this love of the countryside that inspired him to write his famous Pastoral Symphony. If you listen to it carefully, you can hear the singing of birds, a tumbling waterfall and gamboling lambs. Even if you are casually listening you cannot miss the magnificent thunderstorm when it comes in the fourth movement.

Lately the medical world took notice of Mozart music and found out that the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart music can enhance brain power. In a test conducted, a student who listened to the Sonata in D major for Two Pianos performed better in spatial reason. Mozart music was also found to reduce the frequency of seizure among coma patients, improved the interaction of autistic children, and is a great help to people who are suffering of Alzheimer’s disease. The proponents of Mozart’s music call this therapeutic powerMozart Effect.

What really is this special effect? A closer look at it shows similar therapeutic effect with many sounds like the noise of the surf breaking on the shore, rustling of leaves in the breeze, syncopated movement of a pendulum, cantabile of hammock, and even in the silence of a cumulus cloud building in the sky. It is the same way Mozart repeated his melodies, turning upside down and inside out which the brain loves such a pattern, often repeated regularly. about the same length of time as brain-wave patterns and those that govern regular bodily functions such as breathing and walking. It is this frequency of patterns in Mozart music that moderates irregular patterns of epilepsy patients, tension-building hormones, and unpleasant thoughts.

No one tires with the rhythm of nature – the tides, waves, flowing rivulets, gusts of wind, bird songs, the fiddling of crickets, and the shrill of cicada. In the recesses of a happy mind, one could hear the earth waking up in spring, laughing in summer, yawning in autumn and snoring in winter – and waking up again the next year, and so on, ad infinitum. ~


And, of course the Caruso in the animal kingdom - the frog. Here a pair of green pond frogs, attracted by their songs which are actually mating calls, will soon settle down in silent mating that last for hours.

No comments: