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CAN MUSIC REPLACE A MEDICINE? -3

by - Dr. T V Sairam

Improvisational Music Therapy
In a typical therapeutic session, the patients are provided with an instrument or a piece of notation to the patients to go on improvising the value of the piece in the true traditions of Manodharma sangita. To carry on whatever they feel like doing with them till a rapport develops between the patient and the musical piece, which provides a true companionship and bond on the emotional basis. They should be assured of the fact that their output is not going to be judged and they are free to make sounds out of them as it pleases to their ears. All they have to do is to make sounds that please THEIR ear! They are also persuaded to use their vocal chords the way they want-which could range from mere murmurs to loud shouts. It also creates a 'musical and emotional' environment that accepts everything the patient tries to formulate and rejects nothing. As the patients response to the challenges increases, it also provides experience for socialization, improves self-confidence and expression. Rhythm instruments are found to be useful for this type of therapeutic goals, particularly in the case of hyperactive patients. The intervals of gaps to make it more periods of therapy could be flexible, depending on the need of each patient and his response to it. Individual duration of therapy can be determined through regular experiments and as one develops experience by trial and error. As the improvement in ailments takes place, there would be a need for changing the musical inputs by the therapist The first step would however involve the correct diagnosis followed by the selection of appropriate raga to suit the individual requirement.

How Music Works
Certain music can provide physiological as well as psychological benefits as one comes across in the music of Mozart. The so-called 'Mozart Effect' is a well-known phenomenon discovered long after the death of Mozart. Several clinical trials conducted have gone to show that many of Mozart's sonatas result in increased wellness and quality of life, regardless of one's health conditions-both physical and mental.

Indian Therapeutic Music
Indian music is both emotional and intellectual. While a listener's emotional needs are taken care of by the melodies laced with bhavas, his intellectual hunger is catered by the mathematical precisions of the tala system. It is also a well-known fact that the Indian classical music attaches importance to serenity and thoughtful state of mind as its primary aim. In other words it caters both to emotions and intelligence a la fois, thus enabling balancing of the analytical mind (mastish) and emotional or intuitive mind (budddhi).

In other words, by listening to music one achieves this balance, which not only gives one's mental strength to face problems but also induces certain physiological patterns,?conducive to good health. Adopting maximum of dose of music as an integral part of one's daily routine would, no doubt, prove useful in the long run.

The Impact of Tanpura
Tanpura, the Indian drone instrument is not just drone! It is conceived to balance the expanding pitches in a raga by repeated basic pitches such as shadjam and pancham. This acts as a reminder to the singer or the instrumentalist consciously or unconsciously to maintain the purity of swaras that go into making of the raga. Apart from that tanpura has yet another role; the harmonics emanating from the instrument over a period of time tend to bring in harmony and peace to the listeners who succumb to its vibrations. It is no doubt, a soothing experience to listen to the pure harmonics arising from the heart of a tanpura, particularly for those who feel hassled with the pace of modem day life-styles. It is advisable to listen and immerse in the sound vibrations of a tuned tanpura for at least 15 to 20 minutes before employing any form of therapeutic pieces or ragas. A karnatak vidwan who lived in the late 19 th Century, Bikshandarkovil Subbarayar used to send his two tuned-tanpuras to the concert hall well in advance so as to make the audience assembled to listen to their drone for considerable time before the actual concert began. The result was that the ambience in the concert hall became saturated with the sound of balancing strain, which prepared the audience to be well attuned with sruti. When the actual concert began, the musical compatibility was already there between the musician and the audience.


Dr T V Sairam is from F/48B, Hari Nagar,New Delhi 110064. For any doubts you can contact him at - tvsairam@gmail.com