Last weekend I took a 6-hour flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, and that was plenty of time to read the entire book “Sounding the Inner Landscape: Music as Medicine” by Kay Gardner. I have been interested for a very long time in the healing power of music. Ever since I was a little girl, I just intuitively knew there was something healing about music. Now that I have finally overcome my science learning block, I can begin the adventure of understanding why music heals.
This book is a fantastic starting point for any musician who wants to understand what makes music healing, and how to create music specifically for healing purposes. The author began performing in the 70’s in women’s music circles, and from what my 30 year old mind remembers, those were the days when healing music was dominated by “women’s music circles.” When I read Kay Gardner’s bio and saw that she is well known in the “New Age” healing music world, I will admit I rolled my eyes a little. I’m sorry, you guys. But anyone my age is most likely going to have that reaction to what I consider to be a somewhat dorky and unfortunate category of music.
HOWEVER, this book is fantastic! Each chapter covers all of the basics: melody, harmony, timbre, rhythm, form as well as droning, chant, and mantra. Each chapter explains the elements form a healing perspective. It also involves eastern healing philosophy like the theory of “Chakras” or unseen wheels of energy that reside within us and are effected by all forms of energy, such as music making. SO, if you are a westerner and not ready for such talk, just skip over that chapter. Everything else in the book should make western eyes quite cozy.
My favorite chapter was on harmony. Kay discusses each harmonic interval and the healing aspects they carry. For example, the harmonic 6th is collectively agreed upon listeners to feel calming and peaceful, while the “tri-tone” is felt as eerie and scary to some. The other thing I liked about this chapter is that it reminded me of concepts I learned in my Music Theory classes, but had never thought about from a healing perspective before.
I have to say, reading this book has lit a fire in me. I have been recording my own “healing music” with the giddy-ness of a little girl ever since I finished this book. If you are interested in Music Therapy or Sound Healing, I REALLY recommend this book. Don’t bother with any others until you start with this one. Peace and love through music, everyone!