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Listening to music

Category: Actions

Type

Voluntary

Introduction and description

In the overload section I have an activity Listening to sound and music whereby music is used to resonate your body and thus provoke a spiritual experience via physical means.  In this context, the sort of experience provoked is usually an hallucination, vision or out of body experience. 

But listening to music, playing music and composing music can work on a completely different level via the emotions.  Through the emotional response to the music we are hearing, we can obtain other sorts of largely invisible experience - inspiration, bliss and peace, healing, and wisdom.

Another name for this is 'music immersion' because you become so emotionally involved in the music you are hearing that all your other functions are subjugated. Thus it works by the rather interesting combination of extremely high emotion of a positive kind subjugating the intellect.

Background

The principal mechanism by which music works is via very very high emotion. Music of the right sort can generate memories – but it is far better at bringing back perceptions - it can provoke extraordinary images and feelings.  They can be overwhelming, the ego is crushed, the reason disappears and we are there -  flying amongst every spirit that every existed.

But it has to be the right music – that composed when the composer himself or herself was in a state of spiritual openness.

Hazrat Inayat Khan

“Composition is an art rather than a mechanical arrangement of notes.  A composer of music performs his small part in the scheme of nature as a creator.  Music being the most exalted of arts, the work of the composer of music is no less than the work of the saint.  It is not only the knowledge of technicality, of harmony, of theory that is sufficient, the composer needs tenderness of heart, open eyes to all beauty, the conception of what is beautiful, the true perception of sound and rhythm and its expression in human nature.

By composing music a composer must create his own world in sound and rhythm.  His work, therefore, is not a labour.  It is a joy, a joy of the highest order.  If the composer writes music because he is obliged to write something, that is not the thing to do.  The composer should write when his heart feels like writing, when his heart is singing, when his soul is dancing, when his whole being is vibrating harmony.  That is the time he should write music.”

Some composers appear to be able to tap into the music of the universe.  Their inspiration becomes our listening pleasure.  What they have heard via spiritual experience then becomes the music that we can use to achieve spiritual experience.  It is as if by hearing the very songlines that form the spirit world, we gain access to it.  It opens the door.

Some songs are indeed spells and always were.  There were songs that could melt a hard man’s heart as young David managed to do,  and songs that could tame nature and call the birds and butterflies. These were the old songs in a different key, when musical instruments were tuned differently – see Singing spells.

Method

What sort of music is the best music to listen to in order to provide a positive spiritual experience such as inspiration, wisdom, intuition and healing?

The answer is the celestial music of the universe - songlines.

In effect, if we listen to music which has been directly inspired by celestial music, we are more likely to have an experience ourselves.  It is as if the music acts like a key to open the spiritual door.

How do we know we are listening to celestially inspired music?

There are a number of composers who openly admit that their music came from spiritual experience - Bruch, Debussy, Paganini and so on wrote celestially inspired music and I have provided some examples of their work as observations for this section.  Some of these composers gained their spiritual experiences by additional activities, but in the end it was the combination of listening to spiritually inspired music plus these other activities that gained them inspiration.  In effect the inspiration and ability to write the music came from listening to the music in their heads!  Listening to composers who have been inspired by hearing celestial music is

 “ as a “watcher of the skies when a new planet swims into his ken,” that is, of being privileged to be introduced into a hitherto unimagined universe, a universe of new sensation and apprehension" [Emanuel Garcia]

But there are other people, occasionally very ordinary people who have also had spiritual experiences in which they heard celestial music and very often what provoked the experience was something quite different to listening to music.  Sometimes they were ill, sometimes they were grief stricken, sometimes they were simply contemplating peacefully and they heard music.  Psychologists and doctors describe these experiences as 'auditory hallucinations' often lumping them in with those who hear voices, but on analysis the music a fair number of these people hear is totally unearthly and has a very profound effect upon them.

Most of them long, with all their heart, to hear it again.  It haunts them.  A great number long for the ability to be able to capture and reproduce what they heard.  But as so few of them have the gifts of a Debussy or a Beethoven, they can't and all we have is their description - the best they can do with words.

The observations for this activity  - Listening to music - only groups experiences achieved via music, it does not group experiences - observations of celestial music.  For this we have to turn to the concepts section where all these are grouped under the heading of songlines.  Some composers are in both 'via' and 'of'!

Once you have seen these you can return to this section and I will try to summarise what marks celestial music from other music and thus how you will be able to recognise it.

Characteristics of celestial music

1.  Major/minor key - It is very often in the minor key. I came to this conclusion first from the nature of the observations, but also because many indigenous peoples and very gifted composers produce their compositions in the minor key in preference to the major in an attempt to reproduce what they have heard.

2.  Rhythmic words - The words [if there are any] are as an important part of the overall composition as the notes, the meaning is not relevant, it is the sound and the rhythmic composition that is key "the words of the melody, if they can be called words, ran together incomprehensibly".  For example, metrical poetry is a particularly rhythmic form, deriving its structure from patterns of phonetic features within and between the lines of verse and it seems to be derived from the features of celestial music.

3. Pitch - Higher pitched sounds predominate, when using suppression based techniques, which if reproduced means that instruments with higher pitch, for example, the violin are used extensively.  Even human like voices sound as though they are female not male [or a child's] and use no words.  To quote one who heard  "as if there had been a violin in me ...... beautiful, nobler and sadder, more spiritual and all this voiceless..... mere spirit".  Where overload techniques are used and drugs or pharmaceuticals [where a bridge has been formed], much much lower pitches predominate.

4.  Tonal intervals - The vibrational frequency of the tone heard corresponds with specific levels and layers in the spiritual world, the intervals between tones matches the depths of the various layers.

5.  Scales - The scales are not as we may know them or use them today; as Iamblichus said about Pythagorus's music "divinely contrived mixtures of certain diatonic, chromatic and enharmonic melodies, through which he easily transferred and circularly led the passions of the soul". The Shakers, the Quakers, the Sufis, the Kabbalistic Jews all ‘heard’ celestial music and it is worth noting that in trying to reproduce it practically none use or used the scale we use today. The Shakers, for example, had a tradition of 'receiving' songs via trance, which were then recorded using their own musical notation system which we have now, it seems, lost.

6. Harmonious - In general it is described as 'harmonious'  - "which developed into so grand a harmony that I had to sink to my knees" - although to those used to quite different music in the middle ages it appears to have been quite alien to them, being unlike any church music they had heard 'fits ill with the songs and organ music used in church'.

7.  Soft and gentle - It is not rousing, [although it may inspire such music in celebration of its being heard], but appears to be in general soft, gentle, soothing and unearthly [as one might expect].  In fact, one can perhaps hypothesise that it is only if you hear gentle music that you are hearing celestial music, all other hallucinatory music heard is probably terrestrial and received via inter composer communication.

8.  Healing - it can have a calming effect, may also bring great joy and happiness and it has healing capabilities.  When reproduced and used in healing,  celestial music appears to benefit from having a constant steady heart-beat like beating added to it see Listening to beating sounds, to emphasise the rhythmic nature of the music itself [see duration].

9.  Emotional - when reproduced on the spot by those who attempt to sing what they are hearing, celestial music comes across as a hugely emotional outpouring, one which renders the listeners weak from emotion themselves and often results in much weeping. "When given forth by one inspired person, the [result] is an emotional outpouring, joyful and sad as it may be".  Some of this appears to be a reaction to the feeling that they have been wrenched from a place far lovelier than where they are now and the music reminds them of what they have lost.

10.  Celestial Music and musical instruments - Some people in trance states, hear celestial music as though it was played on a musical instrument. Bells are quite common.  Stringed instruments especially harps [including aoelian harps - see Lowell's description] and violins, also seem to be relatively common, as do flutes and other reed instruments, pipes – particularly pan pipes,
"And never was piping so sad
And never was piping so gay"
It is often difficult here, however, to know whether they are hearing celestial music or music played by people.  In trance they could be just 'picking up' sounds via inter composer communication.  There is a good reason why instruments might be heard, however, as I have explained in the section on celestial notes as well as the additional explanation on celestial notes and overtones.

 11.  Fragments versus tunes - Celestial music can be a single note, a phrase, a song or even longer. The songs can be very complex and sometimes unreproducable.  it is rare for anyone during spiritual experience to hear a full song.  Only the musically gifted seem able to hear full tunes or more than a random selection of notes, the rest of us just hear notes or short bursts of song.
I, for one, have only heard music once, when a friend’s cat was dying in the room below my bedroom [of old age, it was 16] and I seemed to be picking up the function of 'death'. Not much sound – a rather eerie very pure set of notes and that is all, not dissimilar to the sound of a saw being played. [the cat died peacefully that night]. But composers use the fragments which is why so many compositions have a repeating theme.

12.  Duration - Celestial music notes have duration.  Duration describes the time the note is heard and is described in western music by a system that combines duration and pitch [Western musical system].  It may be of interest to know that the much older spiritually based eastern musical systems record pitch and duration separately [Tala].    

I suspect that the exact duration of the processes of the universe are never perceived by us when we hear celestial music, if we try to reproduce it, we can only ever get to an approximation – one beat, two beats and so on – but our perception that music needs a beat and that beats of a specific duration produce pleasing sounds are in my opinion spiritually related. The systems of the universe have a beat and a duration, so we in turn consider that beat and duration are essential aspects of mundane music [or as the ancients called it music mundana].

13.  Mode - 'normal' modes were not heard.  The closest mode to celestial music appears to be Phrygian.

14.  Equal temperament - celestial music does not use the ET standard.

How it works

Music of the right kind is able to generate extremely high levels of positive emotion.

By doing this the feminine subconscious part of us is being invoked, the route to the composer and spiritual experience.

At the same time the total immersion being experienced in the music itself helps to still the chattering mind.  Memory recall is put on hold, the reasoning function is subdued or even halted altogether.  Desires and objectives no longer play a part in our activity, we sit and listen or sway or rock from side to side, maybe we dance, but it requires no reasoned action to do this, the action is repetitive and calming not demanding of the Will.

And, as long as we allow ourselves to be filled with the sound and give in to the emotions provoked, all our everyday worries will disappear too.  The threats and obligations which may have bedevilled us are all temporarily forgotten.

The Will as a consequence let's go of its stranglehold of our Conscious mind and the Composer takes over, and we get our spiritual experience.

For more details see The Model of spiritual experience, as well as the detailed explanation of the Generic way in which spiritual experience works - How to get a spiritual experience

 

The Grammar of Carnatic Music (Phonology & Phonetics) by K.G. Vijayakrishnan
Nada, or sound, is divided into two parts - aahada and anhada, heard and unheard. ... The attainment - the peak of attainment of any music - that is nada yoga.

Advantages

An idyllic passtime

Effective

Inexpensive

Disadvantages

Can't think of any

Observations

I have observations that show music heals, observations that show music can inspire poetry, observations that show music can inspire art and observations to show music can inspire music!  There is even an observation to show that music can inspire film.  I am certain that in time I will be able to add examples of music as the source of much creative thinking from architecture to works of fiction, to pottery, gardening and even food and cooking!

There is one observation I could not resist that showed that a surgeon was also inspired by music to be a better surgeon. 

Related observations