(apologies for any liberties taken with the original text)
“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music”, Aldous Huxley.
I cannot imagine a life without music, without listening to it, singing it, dancing to it, or it just being there in the background. It would no doubt go on in my head, anyway, but that’s probably unhealthy, long term. But what would you do if it wasn’t there? Singing is good for the soul, if not for the mental wellbeing of others around you (I have managed to sing, almost non-stop whilst driving from Essex to South Wales, which did ME the power of good), dancing is good for the body and the mind, playing music is good for other things which I haven’t had time to research.
And forget the movies, we all have a musical soundtrack to our own lives: put on Bittersweet Symphony by The Emma and Chris Verve and I’m back in a car in northern Portugal after a downpour, pointing out the incandescent rainbows growing in the sky to my young children (and i also want to sing), put on Oops Upside Your Head, and I’m sitting on the floor rowing at a friends birthday party, wondering how the hell I’m going to get up because my legs are killing me (and I really like singing to that, too), put on “Chan Chan” by the Buena Vista Social Club and I am a sultry salsa dancing diva (I do have a good imagination!), and if I could sing to it I would!
Virtually impossible to describe, whatever the combination of different pitches and notes and instruments and words that make up any piece of music, they are able to touch us in ways that can actually change our mood, evoke long lost memories, conjur up forgotten emotions. Music can make us feel good..
For many years music therapists have been advocating the use of music for the reduction of anxiety and stress and the relief of pain. Doctors now believe using music therapy in hospitals and nursing homes makes people both feel better and heal faster. In one study it was found that victims of stroke, cerebral palsy and Parkinsons disease who worked with music, took bigger, more balanced strides whose therapy had no musical accompaniment.
Music can also make us feel, well, bad. Have you ever put on an old song that was around a lot when you were in the throes of an unhappy love affair, deliberately, so you can wallow in self pity for a while. Admit it, I bet you have….so its the type of music, too, that affects us. If you are reading the Salsa Diaries, chances are you love the happy, vibrant beats and melodies that make up the music that fills us with the absolute need to dance and express ourselves.
However, not all music is good for you. In a recent study, 144 subjects were made to listen to 15 minute selections of grunge, new age and designer music. After 15 minutes of grunge, the listeners showed more hostility, sadness, tension and fatigue, and a reduction in caring, mental clarity and vigour. I have found no data on studies about salsa music, however, probably because if they tried to attach any electrical wires to a salsa subject, they’d only fall off as they careered around the room, bottom wiggling and hips shaking, shouting, “Oh, I love this one, I do…”
As Nietzche said, “Without music life would be a mistake”