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What’s in a tune?

I love music. Playing music has been my job for my entire working life.

A few years ago I began studying what is known as the Ageless Wisdom. It’s the study of energy and has been taught through the ages by philosophers and scientists such as Pythagoras and Plato, and now Serge Benhayon.

I have attended a series of lectures and workshops, most of which have included some element of live music.

Now this music challenged me in what otherwise was a fascinating and deeply evolving study. It wasn’t my chosen style ... musos tend to be very picky about that ... and there was little rehearsal involved, intentionally so. Somehow the focus lay elsewhere, away from the usual fixation on perfection that had so dominated my musical training. The end result was a little rough around the edges for me.

But what was being presented was that the actual sound of the music was incidental, the point to note was that it was energetically clear.

What?!

But isn’t music just all about the sound ... sound that moves us and grooves us according to our own personal preferences and taste?

Well, the presentation went on to say that music is first and foremost, energy.

Ok, that wasn't a big stretch for me. The one thing I took away from year 11 physics was Isaac Newton’s teaching that energy cannot be destroyed, just transmuted from one form to another.

I could feel energy from an early age, as we all can. I didn't know it as that at the time, but have come to understand in years since the basic science that ‘everything is energy’ and it all has an effect that we can feel.

So then where does this energy in music come from? That, I hadn’t considered.

Well, logically it comes from the person who makes it, from the person who writes it, performs and produces it.

Ok. That made sense. We all have favourite artists and composers we love to listen to because we like their take on life or their compositional skills, or their playing abilities.

But more was being presented here. What if we dig a particular artist or musician because we align with them emotionally in some way?

If everything is energy, then emotions are energy too, and let’s face it – to experience emotion is one of the main reasons we listen to music. My extensive playlists catering for every possible emotional state can attest to that.

So what you might say ... this is what music is for! 
I hear you. And if you’re not a person who likes to look beneath things for the why and the how then I suggest you stop reading now – this is probably not for you.

But my interest was piqued and the concept of energetic truth in music was just too fascinating.

So I went deeper. This turned out to be really difficult at first, and I became aware of how singularly I was hooked into whatever my ears were receiving.

I couldn’t get past my judgement of the sound to feel into the more subtle energetic layers. And a part of me didn’t want to know. I wanted music to be what I wanted it to be. I’d worked my whole life to become the best player I could be, and here I was being presented with the possibility that there was a whole lot more to it than previously realised. Are you kidding me?

It made me angry and I often wanted to dismiss the whole thing.

But something kept pulling me back to it and what soon became apparent was that the ability to discern the energy in music was a slow, unfolding process, involving a new focus on the discernment of energy in life generally.

That I guess is a whole other story; suffice to say that bit by bit I began to feel more in music – other layers of ‘stuff’ sitting under the sounds my ears were receiving.

Sometimes this was emotion and sometimes real physical reactions in my body of numbness, heaviness, raciness or ‘vagueing out’, where the music seemed to be taking me away into a daydream, somehow desensitising me to the rest of my body. One minute I would be present and grounded in my body, the next – after listening to a certain track – I would feel like I was floating in space with my brain having gone to la-la land.

It became really interesting when I began to feel how much I actually used music to create these feelings in my body. For example to placate myself emotionally, to numb me from feeling something unpleasant, or to rev me up when I was feeling flat. Or even to deepen an emotional experience such as sadness.

I played a lot of Chopin on the piano when I was a kid and while I would have sworn at the time that I just liked the sound of it, now I could feel the enormous sadness in his music, and that I received immense comfort from joining with that on some level.

The same goes for music from around the period of the Second World War, another favourite of mine. Now I could feel the depth of sadness, loneliness and longing that the genre holds and began to understand that the pull of that music had gone a lot deeper for me than those amazing big band sounds. Just how much secondhand emotion was I getting here?

Back to the workshops, and soon I began to feel the difference in the particular type of music that was being presented.

My ears still didn’t much care for it but if I could get past that, and feel the effects in my body, it felt completely different to any music I’d experienced before.

It didn’t disturb me, or cause me to feel any particular emotion, or take me out of myself in any way. I felt better after listening to it than I felt before, more deeply grounded and settled in my body somehow, with clearer thoughts and a sense of being comfortable in my own skin. And this felt more amazing than any groove I’d heard in my life...

Ever!

And if you know me, that’s some claim!

So now I listen to and experience music not just with my ears, but my whole body.

I liken it to what happens to my hearing in a focused recording period in the studio, where my ability to discern detail in the music expands to new levels. This is what it feels like in my body.

As a result of living with a new focus on feeling the quality of energy in every moment, I’m feeling whole new levels of energy in music.

A fascinating journey, and it continues.

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Role modelsMusicEnergy in musicMusicians

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    By Catherine Wood, Bachelor of Music, Musician, Teacher, Composer, Producer

    Catherine has an insatiable curiosity for what makes things tick. She is particularly interested in the motivations behind peoples’ musical expression and the commonality that brings us all together in that experience.

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    Photography: Emilia Pettinato