Music For Emotional Health

Started by SueC, July 28, 2019, 16:21:03

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I think this is a good time for a humorous interlude.  A fun "mental health" song:

...hilarious lyrics...
SueC is time travelling


...and on a serious note:  I started this thread because lack of love - past love, present love - affects so, so many people, and because when I was in dark places, some of what other people had written or made into songs was often a lifeline to me.  Since that time, I've always wanted to do the same for other people in dark places, or with memories of dark places.  My story won't be something everyone can relate to, but some people will.

In my home forum journalling group, we have a lovely bunch of people talking to each other about things like this (and life, the universe and everything).  I was looking through my own back pages to try to retrieve a Paganini track from a particular artist I want to post here, when I landed smack bang in a past discussion we had about dark experiences growing up and how we got out and more and more into the light.  If you'd like to read that discussion, here's an entry point smack in the middle of it - but it gets lighter both before and after.

Those people are so fabulous, and so are their stories and ideas.  :heart-eyes   Talking to them was really the prelude to being able to write the posts I wrote at the start of this Music For Emotional Health thread.  :cool

PS:  I thought I'd linked to it in this thread, but it appears I haven't.  There's two posts of related stuff on brains, relationship dysfunction, addictions, virtual mushroom tripping and spirituality here:
SueC is time travelling


Further to Post #14, some more amazing classical music.  Good music has so much power to expand your thinking and feeling, and to put you in touch with your own humanity.

Something like that done as a fusion:

The other day I posted a clip of a studio version of an Arvo Pärt composition; here's a live excerpt that really shows how it's put together...

A lovely version of Paganini's Caprice No.24:

An interesting variation of the above:

I can't find the piece of Paganini I've been looking for all morning and will insert it at a later stage, when it decides to pop up again...

Found it:

I think it's so clever when people can play a melody and their own backing on the one instrument, all at the same time. In violin playing people do a thing called double stopping (and even triple stopping), where two (or three) strings are bowed simultaneously. On open strings it given you a lovely resonant blend of complementary notes - violins are tuned GDAE (much to the delight of Australian violin teachers, who tell their young students, "Just say G'Dae!" for a handy mnemonic... :)). Of course, you can also be playing notes on the simultaneously bowed strings - you have enough fingers, even if some of them might end up in unorthodox positions compared to playing on the one string.

Here's a piece that left me completely gobsmacked when I first heard it in my 20s and understood it was solo violin. You can see a bit of how the player does it, but it's pretty subtle as well and bits of it are very fast. In the intro, he starts playing a simple melody, with an open-string backing from simultaneously played strings. After that, things get a bit more complicated... A one-instrument band...

This guy is great! A lot of the players who specialise in Paganini are amazing technical wizards; on top of that this guy has amazing expressiveness, real soul... wow!

Paganini's Caprices are famous for this level of complexity. They don't always sound pretty (the 20th is one of the nicer ones), but they're always super-challenging. Paganini, born 1782, was the sort of Jimi Hendrix of the violin. There are Paganini competitions all over the world every year, where people try to play the Caprices, because they are technically some of the hardest violin music that can be played. I had a teacher once who was able to do the intro to the 20th. It was fun to watch!

To finish, these aren't classical, but so lovely I'm going to put them in...

And I love the audience interaction with this next's someone who made the choice to stop touring with an international contemporary band, and who instead reverted to his roots, with wonderful results.

It's nice and cosy for performer and audience, no craziness, everyone on the same page.  More like music was for a long long time, and it's great to experience it this way.  One of the schools I taught at was very musical and there'd be lunchtime gigs you could attend where you could heartily applaud, for very good reasons because they were excellent, the same students you later on plagued with vocabulary lists and entertained with various explosions and wizz-bang gadgets.  It gave everyone this feeling of common humanity and connectedness, noone above the other, we were all just human beings doing their thing. :-)

Here's an example of one of those erstwhile kids from those lunchtime gigs, who's stuck with music.  You can see why we were clapping our hands off.  And why he used to have a faraway look in his eyes at the back of his English class!  :-) This is from a gig at the Denmark River.

Didgeridoo is an amazing thing - here's a more traditional performance:

We've had a didgeridoo at our house for over a year now, but only manage to coax rather rude-sounding things out of it... nevertheless, even the attempt brings a lot of mental / emotional health benefits!  ;)

Last but not least, another example of what music can do... this is so magical and beautiful it always makes me cry, and smile...

SueC is time travelling


Quote from: SueC on July 28, 2019, 16:21:03If you've had especially traumatic experiences, like family violence, emotional abuse and/or neglect, your brain develops differently to the way it would in a healthy situatio

I haven't, but there are other type of traumatic experiences (e.g. the loss of someone very close to you, the end of a long time relationship, etc.) where we can benefit as well of the power of music. For such cases, I usually listen to instrumental pieces, such as:


2023.11.22 Lima
2023.11.27 Montevideo


Quote from: SueC on August 09, 2019, 04:06:51because when I was in dark places, some of what other people had written or made into songs was often a lifeline to me

How could I forget this one. I played very often in certain moments, still do, it always helps. it should be an anthem for any darkest hour...

I sing myself to sleep
A song from the darkest hour
Those who feel the breath of sadness
Sit down next to me
Those who find they're touched by madness
Sit down next to me
Those who find themselves ridiculous
Sit down next to me
In love, in fear, in hate, in tears

2023.11.22 Lima
2023.11.27 Montevideo


Oh, it's so fabulous to hear from you, @dsanchez:)  Thank you so much for sharing some thoughts and special songs!  :cool

I really like that last song you posted especially - I'd never actually heard of the song or artist.  Will have to look out for this one!  The other two people I was familiar with.  Brian Eno also gave a lovely speech at the Long Now Foundation a while back, which made me laugh and think.

Yeah, there's all kinds of trauma that can affect you, and no matter what variations you've experienced, it's so good to have antidotes... I'm trying to find the right word.  It's not just that music can make you feel better, it's also that it can actually really let you come to terms with something awful without glossing over it - that it can really express the pain that is inside of you at the time.  I sort of think that it's important to feel those feelings, not push them to one side and pretend they don't exist, and I think people who do let themselves feel their feelings are to a considerable degree protected from just turning it all into anger, or despair, or just going numb and becoming disconnected from their feelings.

I had a friend who was a music teacher and musician, who was very much loved in our little coastal community.  When she performed songs though, they seemed to all skew towards a bit artificially bright, and never looking at the dark side of things, sort of like, "Everything's completely great! (...and don't look over there!)" 

I'm especially drawn to music and to artists who understand that there is light and there is darkness - not music / artists that focus on one to the exclusion of the other - because I think both are important and inescapable aspects of what it is to be human and to live a life.  And with this friend of mine, the dark side wasn't being expressed.  I was only in my 20s, and didn't know then what I know now, or alarm bells would have seriously gone off in me.

Because one day, when nobody was looking, our friend and much-loved community member went and jumped to her death off The Gap - off a huge granite cliff that towers above a pounding Southern Ocean.  And it shocked all of us so very deeply - none of us had any idea that could possibly happen, not with our smiling, warm, vivacious friend...

So many people turned up to her memorial - the beach was overflowing... her brother explained to us that she was affected by bipolar disorder and had from childhood locked herself completely away in her dark times, and only come out when she could put on a happy face.  Oh, how we wished we had understood that, known there was something she wasn't telling us, been able to look out for her with that understanding.  There wasn't a person on that beach who wouldn't have been glad to be there for her when she was in the dark, and sit with her in it; and now there was nothing we could do.

Except that I've always remembered that, and something like this hopefully won't fly by me again...

For Melissa:

SueC is time travelling


Something else, and from Australia.  The first one has become a bit of a personal humorous anthem to me, living in the times that we do...

...songs like that make me feel better about accidentally watching the news sometimes.

The next song was a big comfort to me in reference to my own crappy family-of-origin situation:

The audio on that isn't great unfortunately, but good downloadable versions exist, including in a great gig via this link:'s interesting that The Cure's Wrong Number was similarly therapeutic for me in that context.  More the sound than the intended meaning of the song, I think.
SueC is time travelling


I looked closely at the lyrics to the James song @dsanchez posted - it's such a beautiful song that it's on our iTunes addition list now - I don't know how we never heard of this band in Australia.

I was struck by this:

If I hadn't seen such riches
I could live with being poor

I've personally never yet had the misfortune to lose a romantic relationship that was healthy and worth having - I've only known what that was like once and am married to this person.  Because of my background, it took me until my 30s to know not to put up with disturbing crap from partners, and then it was a matter of finding the right sort of person with whom I could have a real, decent, actually relating relationship - an equal, connected partnership, where each truly sees and hears the other, instead of projecting images on them - and loves what they see and hear, and supports the other in their personal evolution.

In Australia, the main forms of socialising are going to the pub, supporting a football team and belonging to a religious group.  These things didn't appeal to either of us - we liked hiking in our spare time, reading books, listening to music, and being in our own spaces.  This makes the chances of meeting smaller, but alas, we finally did.  But, both of us had spent the majority of our adult lives before we met single.  The up side of that is that you do really learn to live with yourself and to understand what makes you tick - my fastest growth phase as a person was between ages 24 and 31, when I wasn't even dating anybody, nor looking to, in consequence of a bad experience.  I really didn't want to go there again.

It wasn't just the usual young-romance-ends-badly scenario - like many people from dysfunctional homes, I was subconsciously attracted to not very nice people - it's like a bloody software virus, I tell ya!  :1f629:  You get to the point where you can intellectually see what's going on, but you still can't prevent yourself being drawn to unsafe, disrespectful people. It's like you have an autopilot setting that says you have to fall in love with someone who's very much like your parents.

So, my first serious relationship, starting in high school, was with a person who I later found out had tied cats to railway lines and watched them being run over for "fun" - and had killed a dog with a hammer.   :1f631:   Had I known this, I'd have given it a wide berth, but people don't tell you stuff like that about themselves on their first date, or until you're well and truly in deep.  They also don't tell society as a whole this, so when things start to fall apart, the outside world also tends to see that person as the wonderful person, and you as the person who must have done something wrong - because they have all the confidence, while you're losing all of yours and quietly going mad.

Couple that with the misguided idea that the end of a serious relationship is some sort of personal failure that renders you worthless, and the equally misguided but culturally persistent idea that you don't truly love someone unless you're giving up your boundaries, values, happiness and identity for them, and it can take years to extract yourself from something that only you know is a nightmare, because these things often look so normal from the outside - when you're not behind closed doors.

...just like in my family of origin, where very few people would have suspected what was really going on, because on the outside, that was the respectable, self-made middle class family with the clever systems analyst father and the Jackie Kennedy lookalike mother and the nice home and one boy, one girl and holiday home in Italy.   ...never trust superficial appearances... really, really look.  One of my primary school friends, when I re-contacted her as an adult and we talked about life, said to me that she'd always sensed that there was something awful going on, and that's why we had spent more time at her house than mine.  Young children often sense this kind of stuff, because they've not yet swallowed the social conditioning that makes us myopic around certain "nice" people, especially when they have money and status.

If anyone out there knows from personal experience what I am talking about, you have my empathy and my best wishes.  It is possible to crawl out from such a black hole and find sunlight.  It might just take years and be a bit of a convoluted path, but don't give up, don't feel ashamed, don't feel alone, and do find safe people to hang out with (that's a skill all of its own too...).

Because paradoxically, people are both hell and redemption.  Don't give up on humanity altogether, lovely people do exist and are very good to be around.  Understand what they look, feel and act like before you even begin to think about romantic relationships.

Not everyone has to deal with the trick of not becoming attracted to people who pathologically lack empathy (and on the outside, they cover it extremely well and fool most people) - for a lot of people, it's just garden variety dysfunctions around not feeling worthy and never truly having been seen or heard by the people who are (allegedly) close to them.  But that too is a journey and a half, and if I take the word of friends in social services, and my own observations from 20 years of working with a lot of people, such is the case with the majority of human beings, having to learn how to love themselves and others in a healthy, affirming way that is respectful to the self and to others, and sees noone as intrinsically above or below.

It took me 36 years (minus childhood) to find a romantic relationship truly worth having, and by extrapolation, my heart goes out to anyone who has known that, and lost it.  Our wedding witnesses were Alice and Robert Paisley-Kerr - at the time the people who had been married longest, out of everyone we knew - over 50 years, and such wonderful characters!  Alice lost Rob a couple of years ago, just after his 80th birthday party - aneurysm.  It was very sad to go to his funeral, and to see Alice without him, handing out eucalyptus leaves for all of us to put on his coffin. We all loved Rob, and we all love Alice, and while it was hard for her, she was surrounded by people and love every day after her (and everyone's) bereavement.

Every time I bake a loaf of bread, or plant a tree, I think of Rob - because he gave us a breadmaker he used to bake with before his grandchildren bought him a new model, and an adze from his days as a farmer when we bought our own farm.  He's still with us that way, and we carry his light, with which he lit us up.

For anyone who has loved and lost a special person - a poem by Australian author Judith Wright.

This Time Alone

Here still, the mountain that we climbed
when hand and hand my love and I
first looked through one another's eyes
and found the world that does not die.

Wild fuchsia flowered white and red,
the mintbush opened to the bee.
Stars circled round us where we lay
and dawn came naked from the sea.

Its holy ordinary light
welled up and blessed us and was blessed.
Nothing more simple, nor more strange,
Than earth itself was then our rest.

I face the steep unyielding rock,
I bleed against the cockspur's thorn,
struggling the upward path again,
this time alone.  This time alone,

I turn and set that world alight.
Unfurling from its hidden bud
it widens past me, round my sight,
filled with my breath, fed with my blood;

the sun that rises as I stand
comes up within me gold and young;
my hand is sheltered in your hand,
the bread of silence on my tongue.

...where would we be, if we didn't have poets...
SueC is time travelling


Quote from: SueC on August 20, 2019, 04:02:37I looked closely at the lyrics to the James song @dsanchez posted - it's such a beautiful song that it's on our iTunes addition list now - I don't know how we never heard of this band in Australia.

you need to make sure to listen the definitive version of this song, which is the one from the video I shared. The reason why that version is so emotional (you can feel the sadness of the keyboard player like making long the start of the song because it would be the last time) and special is because the band when on a hiatus after that night for many years, it was their last concert during that era in their hometown in Manchester. All was filmed in a video named 'Getting Away with it...' worth getting it
2023.11.22 Lima
2023.11.27 Montevideo


Someone on YouTube on the song below...

Quote from: undefinedWhat a powerful song! Probably the greatest song of all time for those struggling with life & depression. Kinda sum's up how we sometimes feel: Hope, Faith, Love "Tomorrow may bring us light". As this world today seems so cold and dark. There must be someone we can turn too for help when we want to leave this world

2023.11.22 Lima
2023.11.27 Montevideo


Quote from: dsanchez on August 20, 2019, 13:55:56
Quote from: SueC on August 20, 2019, 04:02:37I looked closely at the lyrics to the James song @dsanchez posted - it's such a beautiful song that it's on our iTunes addition list now - I don't know how we never heard of this band in Australia.

you need to make sure to listen the definitive version of this song, which is the one from the video I shared. The reason why that version is so emotional (you can feel the sadness of the keyboard player like making long the start of the song because it would be the last time) and special is because the band when on a hiatus after that night for many years, it was their last concert during that era in their hometown in Manchester. All was filmed in a video named 'Getting Away with it...' worth getting it

We'll look out for that version, thanks for the tip!  :) Live versions are often better in cases like this anyway, because it seems having real people in front of you can make you reach further in and bring more out. It's like that song by Ruth B that a friend sent me, which I referred to on the first page of this thread - I found a live version that makes even more impact (and that's the one I posted).

I really liked the audience interaction on Sit Down (as well as the next one) - it's pretty clear that a lot of people are really relating to these songs.  There's still not enough open discussion of this sort of thing in public spaces, and it's great when people bring these things out in the open, through songs, music, poetry, just talking about it.  Part of the problem with all this stuff is the sense of isolation around it, and feeling like you can't say anything.  It's a good start when someone shows you it's OK and important to talk about it (and that your own life is valuable and important and matters), by setting an example and showing you can do it, as James are doing here, and many people do.  These are lifelines - and enable people to get to the point where they can do the same, and be OK about it.

I read the Wikipedia entry the night you posted the song, and that's why we wondered why the heck we'd never heard of this band.  Also, that's such a lovely comment about the milk and cookies at the end of the song...  :)

I've been asking Brett if he's got any suggestions for songs for this thread, and you know what he said? "One Hundred Years.  That should put everything in perspective!"    When I pursued this further, he said he listened to a lot of Portishead when he was depressed, which he says he was on and off for years, before we met.  It seems that loneliness and the lack of a nice girl was the main reason for that for him.  He asked me to post this:

SueC is time travelling


Found an interesting article, which relates to this topic (in parts):

QuoteHuman development is led by our senses. Our senses exert a formative and shaping pressure on our brains. So if our experience of the world around us can damage our brains and our souls, it makes a kind of intuitive sense that music can also help us feel better. Every musician, and every music fan, believes that.

It was this belief that led me to the work of a French doctor named Alfred Tomatis, who, in the late 1940s and '50s, began manipulating sound in the hope of healing people. Among his patients were opera singers and fighter pilots, whose brains had stopped processing sound correctly as a result of work-induced auditory trauma. Because our fight-or-flight response is connected to our auditory system, any disturbances can cause a host of physical symptoms. Tomatis came up with a treatment that involved decreasing or emphasizing specific frequencies of what he believed to be particularly salient forms of music — including Gregorian chants and the music of Mozart, which is perhaps the most perfectly structured and at the same time most effortlessly fluid sound that human beings have ever made (at once the most human and the most perfect music on the planet). These interventions helped retune the muscles that control the auditory pathways through which sound makes its way to the brain.
I'm walking slowly and quickly, but always away...


Aaaah, @Ulrich, it's such a pleasure to read a super-well-written article on a musician / music you like.  It's like really exquisite Lindt-type chocolate.  And it's such a nice contrast to the usual bilge in the press.  Thanks for the link, and go New York Times!  :heart-eyes

I totally agree with Young re music compression.  When MP3s started, I was going, "This sounds wrong!!!"  And the whole loudness wars thing makes me want to weep.  It's so rare now to hear great dynamic range in contemporary albums...  :'(

SueC is time travelling


Having actual fun is an important part of staying emotionally and mentally healthy, so here's a nice song (and clip) for that:

I was listening to an Esther Perel interview today, in which she made the point that many adults completely forget all about the creativity, play and fun that came naturally to them as children, and that this cripples them, and their ability to have happy relationships with other people - especially intimate partners, which is sort of her specialty area.  Always worth a listen!
SueC is time travelling


These two songs I find have an amazingly helpful impact on me emotionally.

"Where the flesh meets the spirit world,
Where the traffic is thin..."