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Observations placeholder

Ficino, Marsilio - Commentary on Plato’s Timaeus - On harmony and healing



Type of Spiritual Experience


A little bonus based on this

J Music Ther. 2015 Feb 17. pii: thu039. - Do Communication Disorders Extend to Musical Messages? An Answer from Children with Hearing Loss or Autism Spectrum Disorders.  - Whipple CM1, Gfeller K2, Driscoll V1, Oleson J1, McGregor K1.

BACKGROUND:  Effective musical communication requires conveyance of the intended message in a manner perceptible to the receiver. Communication disorders that impair transmitting or decoding of structural features of music (e.g., pitch, timbre) and/or symbolic representation may result in atypical musical communication, which can have a negative impact on music therapy interventions.

OBJECTIVE:  This study compared recognition of symbolic representation of emotions or movements in music by two groups of children with different communicative characteristics: severe to profound hearing loss (using cochlear implants [CI]) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Their responses were compared to those of children with typical-development and normal hearing (TD-NH). Accuracy was examined as a function of communicative status, emotional or movement category, and individual characteristics.

METHODS:  Participants listened to recorded musical excerpts conveying emotions or movements and matched them with labels. Measures relevant to auditory and/or language function were also gathered.

RESULTS:  There was no significant difference between the ASD and TD-NH groups in identification of musical emotions or movements. However, the CI group was significantly less accurate than the other two groups in identification of both emotions and movements. Mixed effects logistic regression revealed different patterns of accuracy for specific emotions as a function of group.

CONCLUSION:  Conveyance of emotions or movements through music may be decoded differently by persons with different types of communication disorders. Because music is the primary therapeutic tool in music therapy sessions, clinicians should consider these differential abilities when selecting music for clinical interventions focusing on emotions or movement.


A description of the experience

Ficino, Marsilio - Commentary on Plato’s Timaeus

On harmony and healing

Just as expert doctors mix certain juices together in certain proportions so that several different substances come together to form a new unity and in addition to their elemental power miraculously acquire a heavenly power, as was seen in the concoction of Mithridates and the theriaca of Andromachus, so the most highly skilled musicians take the deepest notes, as if they were cold substances, and the highest notes, as if they were hot, together with the moderately deep, as being moderately moist, and the high notes, as being dry and mix them in such proportion that from the many a single form arises which results not only in vocal power but also in heavenly power.

This indeed is evident from what Democritus and Theophrastus say and from what Pythagoras actually proved. For certain diseases both physical and mental are said to be miraculously cured by certain harmonies, so that it is no wonder that the sages of old attributed the origin of both medicine and music to the same source, namely, the god Apollo. For each is a medicine. But one cures the soul from the body, while the other cures the body from the soul.

The ancients quite rightly attributed prophecy, too, to Apollo, the source of melody. For melody alone draws the mind back from all that would draw it away, and draws it together into itself, into a kind of inner hearing, if I may so call it, by which are perceived not only the notes but also the ratios of the notes; and when the disturbances have settled down, melody tempers the mind with celestial harmony and pours forth divine oracles in heavenly fashion.

But in case someone says that a third and common note-form does not arise from the high note and the low note, it should be remembered that low notes can be mingled with high notes more effectively than juices are said to mix with other juices.

Firstly, this is because the note-substances on account of their subtlety their continuous motion and their uniform quality in all parts of the airy body, merge into one more readily and more fully than juices, which are thick, ill-disposed towards movement and very diverse in quality; and if they do merge into one, then they are the more ready to assume a single new form.

Secondly, this is because the natural inner instrument of the voice, being the closest and most obedient to the power of life, spirit and reason, tempers the art of music more easily and more fully in producing that one which it gazes upon than external instruments do for doctors; and if even a lyre is touched by the fingers, the notes will obey the will of the musician more faithfully than herbs obey doctors.

And if nature, in due time, acts upon a concoction of herbs over and above the labour and care of doctors, how much greater and quicker will be its effect upon vocal material, which is extremely amenable and flexible; that nature, I say, which lives everywhere, and which is armed with celestial powers, will have an effect upon material which resembles the heavens and is, as it were, alive; to this it immediately reveals a wonderful living new form, through which, by means of a hidden power, it projects its forces onto the body and the soul.

The source of the experience

Ficino, Marsilio

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