Stick to your guns? No, stick to your songs – Pratt Tribune

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By Brad Wolf
PeaceVoice guest columnist

Music is not only the language of the gods but most likely the language of peace, healing and reconciliation.

Veterans with PTSD and traumatic brain injury benefit from music therapy. In recent years, the Veterans Administration has more than doubled the number of music therapists in its clinics. Music rebuilds damaged neural connections, engages neural networks, and triggers the parasympathetic nervous system (the “rest and digest” side) to relax patients.

Additional research shows that pleasant music can reduce activity in the brain’s amygdala, which is responsible for regulating our negative emotions. As a result, music can open a safe pathway for remembering, speaking, engaging, and healing.

The American Music Therapy Association (formerly the National Association for Music Therapy) was founded in 1950 and since then has promoted the benefits of music therapy to meet the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. According to Barbara Crowe, AMTA Past President, “Music therapy can make the difference between withdrawal and awareness, between isolation and interaction, between chronic pain and comfort, between demoralization and dignity. “.

At a New Jersey VA clinic for Vietnam veterans with PTSD, a staff psychiatrist glides her bow across her viola while playing a soft tune. She is known as “Violin Doc”. A veteran of the band says, “I’m into classical music. . . to spend the night I listen to classical music.

Music is not only representative, not only mimetic; it does more than just imitate a thought, feeling, or scene. The music evokes the deepest sources of our common humanity. He is both a creation and a creator. Each piece of music is a unique expression of truth, telling us something we know without thinking about it. It speaks of our essence. And it is the music that could well save us.

Bach’s ‘Prelude No. 1 in C major’, from his ‘Well-Tempered Clavier’, is universally known for its seemingly simple and smooth rolling keys, each note attracting the other, linking the chords, connecting us all to him, his music, and other listeners. The modulation of Bach’s keys mediates our conflicting emotions, its repetitive notes bring us to a state of non-thought, the music’s subtle tension and resolution captures us, captivates us, then releases us, harmonizes and heals. It is therapy without words.

Such music can transcend cultural, ethnic and religious boundaries. He can cross continents and war zones. It speaks of a universal beauty, of a shared appreciation. If we value beauty, we value life. Violence and war are anathema to beauty and life, incompatible with our natural state. The result is disharmony, the cacophonous cry of humanity.

A prelude to peace means that we must stop shouting, stop shooting and listen, for only with our own silence can we hear the music. “Where words fail, music speaks,” wrote Hans Christian Andersen. War is not just a failure of words, but a failure of listening. Our universal notes get lost in the spit of indignation. Beauty is murdered with every bullet and bomb. Bach’s “Prelude” becomes a Requiem, a mass for the dead. Should Russian and Ukrainian soldiers stop shooting and listen to “Prelude No. 1 in C major”? Absolutely. It is the necessary prelude to peace, as humanity saw in the musically inspired Christmas Truce during World War I. For a few moments, if they really listen, they will no longer be soldiers, no longer strangers to each other. They will intuitively see commonalities, community, harmony. During this brief time, they will reside together in beauty and peace, rising from “demoralization to dignity”. And by the end of the prelude, they’ll realize they have to overcome their subtly altered natures if they want to be killers again.

SONGS So, can music save our species? Thousands of strangers can gather in a concert hall and have a collective and peaceful experience. Weapons and wars cannot do that. Accusations and insults, threats of hellfire, none of this has ever produced a lasting peace. Diplomacy as practiced today is only a prelude to war. After all, the bulk of the money is in the guns, not the words.

The solution to an endless war may well be found in the eternal mystery of music, its ability to attract, to rebuild, to connect. It appeals to something deeper than reason, because too often we can reason ourselves out or in on whatever we wish. It offers the chance to rediscover our fundamental nature, an exchange of swords for symphonies. Why not Bach? Why not his “Prelude”? And after Bach, let’s move on to Liszt.

Once we listen quietly, we can come out the other side and remember who we really are.

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