Dr.R.Kalyani, Chief Surgeon, BHEL Hospital, Tiruchy

My thanks to Sri Sathguru Thiagabrahma Aradhana Trust, Tiruchirapalli for giving permission to publish this article.

Music is a way of life. Anything and everything we do in this world has a musical touch. If we start enjoying the music in our day to day activities, life becomes more meaningful and worthy.

Generally, music is soothing to the ears, relaxing to the mind and energizing to the body. Music is a splendid thing which can make you happy when you are sad, can make you dance. Sometimes to that extent you might look like a fool to others. Every one of us would have experienced such things at least at some moment of our life. This is an experience.

Apart from this, scientifically, music is a form of therapy which can modify serious effects of certain diseases, can control some symptoms of a disease and in some can even cure the disease. That is why MUSIC THERAPY is a research by many scientists and doctors.

A few effects of Music on certain diseases are highlighted in this article.

I was working in a famous hospital at Coimbatore. There was a patient who sustained multiple injuries, following a road traffic accident. We were treating him for nearly two months. But the patient was too sick and he was continuously on ventilators. There was no improvement in his condition. Then we went through some literature and came to know that music can help such patients. Those were the days, when we could have only small recorders and not the present day cell phones and other avenues. We asked the relatives to record the music which that person used to like. We started keeping the recorded music close to his ears to enhance listening. This went on for nearly 10 days. There was no change till then. Suddenly on the eleventh day, we noticed some movements in the patient and day by day he improved slowly and finally on the 28th day, he totally recovered. Those days we didn’t know what music did. Even now we are not sure whether music brought out the total recovery, but definitely it helped to some extent.

Now we have the scientific proof that music can cure some diseases.

We already know from the life history of St.Thiyagaraja about how he brought a dead person back to life by his composition Naa Jeevadhara in Bilahari raga. Dikshitar’s Nava graha krithis are supposed to cure stomach ache. Shyama Sasthri’s Duru Sugu is supposed to give good health. We have also heard that King David cured an illness by playing on the harp. Hippocretes, the father of modern medicine used music to cure diseases.

There is an evidence that dementia patients will improve when they are exposed to familiar songs or rather favourite songs. Those who were effectively communicative in the past and are unable to communicate over a period of time become capable of conversing with others when the music is played. They can sing along with what is played and even answer clearly for the questions asked.

Premature babies are those who are born before 37 weeks or even less. Usually such children have decreased body fat and muscles, breathing difficulties and poor feeding habits. Such babies start gaining weight when music is played repeatedly. Even their feeding habits improve and their brain growth becomes better. Live or recorded music in the neonatal intensive care unit improves the oxygen level and helps the babies breathe better. A mild music played in a low volume is preferred to suit the low immune level of such babies. A surprising fact is that, the female voice has better effect than the male voice or instrumental music.

MUSIC THERAPY helps autistic children to articulate words. Some kids start telling their first word after birth after music therapy. By combining music with actions, the neural pathway for speech is supposed to be improved.

Music helps patients who have sustained heart attack by reducing their blood pressure, reducing their level of anxiety and lowers their heart rate thereby reducing further attacks in future.

Music therapy has not left even cancer cures. Research shows that music therapy can alter the severity of cancer in many patients. Hence the therapist uses vibrations of human voice, resonating objects like tuning fork, bowls etc. which can balance a person’s internal system.Indian classical music plays a great role in music therapy.

A brief note on how MUSIC THERAPY works

The body has seven chakras and each correspond to the even swaras of classical music. The Mulaadhara chakra is the base chakra and it is represented by the swara SA. The Sahasrara chakra is the apex of the body and it is represented by the swara NI. There are 72 melakartha ragas and they are supposed to control the 72 important nerves in the body. Similarly there are 72000 energy centres or Naadis in the body. When a particular chakra becomes weak, the organs under its control develop problem. The music therapist calibrates the swara associated with that chakra in such a way to deliver energy to the chakra and boosts the weakened chakra to cure diseases.

If one sings with due devotion adhering correctly to the Raga Lakshana and to Sruthi suddham, definitely that would favourably affect the particular nerve in the body. It is surprising to note that most of the stringed instruments have the same structural interface as a human body.

From time immemorial, chanting of veda mantras in praise of God, have been used to cure diseases. Playing, performing and even listening to appropriate ragas work as a medicine. Various ragas are identified to offer cure to some diseases.

The arohana of a ragam is said to increase the good mood and the avarohana does the reverse. That is why while singing for a dance or for soldiers, the notes have to have more o arohana content. Avarohana content should be more for sad situations. Western music also uses such principles. The major keys are used for joy and minor ones for sorrow.

Some ragas are said to help in controlling some diseases.

  • Darbari kaanada and kamaas can reduce mental tension. Listening to these ragas will lessen the hysterical behaviour of a person.
  • Aahirbhairav and thodi reduce blood pressure.
  • Punnaagavarali and sahaana control anger.
  • Kannada helps to reduce body weight.
  • Jenjurutti keeps mind happy for ever.
  • Sahaana, Saamaa and Sourashtram give peace of mind.
  • Poorvikalyani cures eye related problems.

Music reduces stone problems, reduces arthritis, reduces inflammation, cleanses the urinary tract and reduces acidity. So many other diseases are also controlled by listening to music.

  • Music is entertaining
  • Music is a great inspiration in creating new ideas.
  • Music is God. No life is complete without music.
  • Music improves emotional, physiological and psychological well being.

Anyone can design their musical prescription using their own favourite music to control some specific health problems. The can choose from their own music store and need not go to a music shop for specific prescription.

At the same time some of the tips can be followed to make music a more useful instrument in treatment.

  1. Select music as per the mood so as to enhance joy, reduce pain or reduce anger etc.
  2. Listening to music through speakers can help all the cells of the body to receive the energy rather than hearing music through ears alone through ear pieces.
  3. Sitting and listening to music after removing shoes has always better effect.
  4. Most of the people listen to music as an additional thing while reading or doing a Job. But it is better to devote time to listen to music only with full concentration which enhances the spirit, motivates a person and does many other wonders also.
  5. Low volume or medium volume is preferred for the optimum effect.