Music & Sound: A Hidden Source of Energy and Transformation
By: Jill Mattson
In 1971 Coca Cola released “Buy the World a Coke and then in 1972 the song was released as “I’d Like to Teach The World to Sing”. In it’s commercial form it was designed to create a vision of Coke as a product that brought people together. Then when released in versions by The New Seekers and the Hilltop Singers without reference to Coke it’s message resounded with people around the world. Perhaps they underestimated the power of song, but then again maybe they were on to something and we’ve dropped the ball.
Music is a powerful force in so many positive ways. From improving work production, uniting people, enhancing our mood and healing our minds and bodies to influencing large groups of people.
Work chants are used with sailors, field workers and soldiers to increase their productivity while unifying them in a team effort. Musical rhythms create patterns of organization and controlled movement – for activities like rowing a boat. Music creates unity and cooperation amongst workers. The musical rhythm sets the pace. It also helps people focus on something other than the arduous work that is required of them.
Some songs give people identity, like “our” song, and songs for sports teams, groups or nations. Jingles can persuade people to accept a certain point of view. They are used extensively in China to promote political points of view and in advertising to encourage people to buy a product, such as Coke.
When ancient conquerors came into a new land, they typically outlawed local music – as a means to strip them of their identity and old ways of doing things. The Russians did this in Finland during and after World War II when they outlawed Finlandia to help eliminate resistance. Music has more power than we give it credit for.
Special uplifting music can change a person’s outlook, creating a window to heaven – a new way of feeling and thinking. Ancient people referred to music that altered and uplifted a person’s conscious as the “music of the spheres.”
Author Viola Pettit Neal, wrote about a novel use of music, “The conquest of evil will ultimately be accomplished by use of rituals of sound and form. For evil is that which is disharmonious and cannot exist in harmonious pattern of sound and form.” Neal suggests that harmonious music can overcome disharmony (evil). For instance African tribes surround someone who has behaved badly, singing their name and song to reestablish harmony. It makes sense that Osama bin Laden outlawed music for his followers. I guess it would be hard to prepare for a suicide bombing mission, when you were humming a breezy Beach Boys tune. Such harmony would make it nearly impossible to get people to do heinous deeds.
Could we use music to change people that have done unscrupulous things? Why not use harmonic and healing music: In prisons, with children in trouble or business with poor reputations? Where negotiations are taking place? What about on a war front? How serious could soldiers be about fighting, when singing Silent Night?
Research has shown that people easily believe others in a distant country are enemies, yet, when they know something of them via music or other personal experience they wanted to see them not hurt. What better way to learn than through music?
The people of Estonia, a small Romanian country, had been slaves for thousands of years. As slaves, they were demoralized. When the abusive Czars were shot, the Estonians saw their chance for freedom, but had no courage to seize the opportunity. In a country of only a million people, half of them sang nonstop for a week. The energy created from singing – realigned their will, determination and spirit. They rose up and boldly gained their freedom.
Shortly after Hitler took control of Poland, Russia overpowered the Romanian countries. Under Stalin’s rule about a third of Estonians were randomly forced to work in Siberia. Most died. This practice terrorized the people. Later, both Hitler and the Stalin, enslaved Estonian men and forced them to fight against each other, with brothers killing brothers. Pain colored the Estonians with shame, once again, breaking the spirit of the people.
After World War II, the Russian occupation of Estonia created harsh conditions, little food, no jobs, no places to live, but plenty of fear. When the communist regime fell, the Estonian people were beaten down with no strength to fight for their freedom.
Yet, when 500,000 Estonian people came together for a song-festival that lasted five days a new spirit and strength arose that motivated and inspired them to gain a new found freedom. Every five years Estonians come together for a song fest that continues to light their spirit and sustains their courage.
Yes, music can and does serve us in meaningful ways. Sound and music is full of hidden energy. Music is invisible, but its powers are greater than we ever dreamed. Find the music and sounds that inspire and heal you and you will find yourself and the peace that eludes you.