Fisher Funeral Chapel & Cremation Services

Grief Library

: Music

by Linda J. Austin

On a mythology message board I posted the question: Are there archetypal sounds? We often speak of archetypes and the deeper meanings, but what of music? What is it that stirs long dormant emotion if not sound...sometimes evoking silent tears or intense joy, at other times bringing peace. Is this the essential premise of music therapy - to put us in touch? To bring us back to the mother's lullaby? But, not all mothers sing to their babes; what music then? What connection? The steady rhythm of mom's heartbeat, the swooshing of fluids?

The French philosopher Denis Diderot said, "Good music is very close to primitive language."

Julian Jason of San Juan Capistrano responded to my post. "The way that it was explained to me in grad school is that the kind of music that you like is determined by the assortment of archetypes in your soul and what is dominant. That's the chord inside of you that music and other sounds are able to touch."

Jaye Calleigh from Boston added: "Sound is vibration and is never completely lost, each sound forming a standing wave. In archetypal terms, I can imagine that the cry of pain of early man, say--being attacked by an animal--then the cry of pain of modern man being attacked on fields of war, etc., or the cry of a newborn...or a song of love. In Kundalini yoga practice as well as in certain schools of Buddhism, mantra is used both for literal purposes and as *seed syllables* seed mantras it is the vibration that resonates that affects the heart/mind."

Have you ever used music to soothe, to change the mood? Music is an alternative therapy. There is prescriptive music for the dying. The music thanatologist brings harp and voice to the bedside to comfort the patient and the family. Music is chosen to respond to individual needs and patient symptoms and alternates with periods of silence. Don't expect to look in the Yellow Pages and find a music thanatologist, there are not very many of them.

You can create your own music vigil by using CDs, tapes, records. Preview some of the Quiet Heart Music CDs - Henry's music is beautiful and soothing and I think they work well for music vigils. Paste this link in your browser to listen. Music vigils are not always done with harps.

For more information about music thanatology visit the Music Thanatology Association - Music Thanatology Association.

"Perhaps all music, even the newest, is not so much something discovered as something that re-emerges from where it lay buried in the memory, inaudible as a melody cut in a disc of flesh. A composer lets me hear a song that has always been shut up silent within me." Jean Genet, French Playwright

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