Healing through Music -2

by - Dr. T V Sairam

Musical Rhythms and Body Rhythms

It has been an age-old practice in all primitive societies, to induce a Shamanic state of consciousness, by drumming at the rte of 4 ½ beats per second. Recent researchers like Landereth (1974), Harrer (1977) have confirmed that slow beats modify the heart rate and breathing cycles in a significant way. Listening to musical rhythms does have an impact on the brain wave rhythms, which are responsible for our level of consciousness: a stage of alertness (with the predominance in beta waves) or a state of relaxation or deep sleep (with the predominance in alpha, theta or delta waves).

A musical-harmonic order called 'rhythmic functional order in humans' responds by intensifying, even when a person is sleepy. It has been experimentally found by this author in a workshop conducted at Delhi on the 22nd December, 2001 before an enlightened audience, comprising of diplomats, civil servants, yoga teachers and music lovers that, manipulation of the rhythmic pace of a tabla or a manjira could lead one to a relaxed state. The literature on music therapy is fast building up, confirming that long-term musical involvement reaps cognitive rewards – in terms of linguistic skills, reasoning and creativity for enhancing social adjustments love and peace.

Music exercises the brain and playing the instruments for instance, involves vision, hearing, touch, motor planning, emotion, symbol-interpretation – all of which go to activate different areas of brain-functioning. It has been observed that some Alzheimer patients could display music even long after they had forgotten their near and dear.

In the deepest and most general level, the forms of music stimulate the forms of adaptation (that is assimilation and accommodation) which are deeply rooted in our autonomic nervous system. These intimate connections between our life-processes and music can remain despite illness or disability and are never dependent on our musical skill or mastery. Because of this, the emotional, cognitive and developmental needs of people with a wide range of problems arising from such varied causes such as learning difficulties, mental and physical ailments, physical or sexual abuse, stress, terminal illness etc., can be rationally addressed by selecting appropriate music.

Every one of us responds to music – from the new born, to patients on their deathbeds; from the physically or mentally strong to those who are the weak or impaired.


  • Bagchi, K. 2006 Music Therapy : An Alternative Medicine, Delhi: GGerontological Society of India
  • Sairam T V 2007 Self- Music Therapy, Chennai: Nada Centre for Music Therapy.
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Dr T V Sairam, A serving bureaucrat and a writer, is from F/48B, Hari Nagar New Delhi 110064. For any doubts you can contact him at - tvsairam @ gmail. com

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