Tag Archives: moving musical experiences and the meditative state

Thoughts from Karla McLaren on Music & Emotion… a Follow Up…

After yesterday’s post on Moving Musical Experiences and the Meditative State, I thought of Karla McLaren, an author that I follow on Facebook. She is also a social science researcher, a cappella arranger, and an empath. Her most recent journey and writings are on The Language of Emotions.

Yesterday I contacted Karla. I mentioned the post, asked if she had any thoughts or opinions on the topic, and asked the following question:

“Are these just emotions or really truly a heightened state of awareness or meditation?” 

 
She graciously responded with the three links below along with the following message.

“As you know, I would never say that something was ‘just’ an emotion, since emotions are vital to every possible aspect of our cognition, decision-making, social awareness, relational skill, and intelligence. In the flowchart from emotion to feeling, which requires an emotionally evocative stimuli, music absolutely can be an emotionally evocative stimulus that will evoke a specific emotion.”

 

This link is from a blog by Maria Panagiotidi, a PhD student interested in cognitive neuroscience/psychology and science in general.

In my middle school vocal music classes we discuss just about everything in this writing. It’s true, kids recognize the modes of major and minor fairly quickly and easily. One of the goofy things that I’ve always done while demonstrating is put a giant smile or frown on my face as I play chords or melodies in either major or minor.

This site of abstracts makes me feel like a grad student again. 🙂 It gave me a physiological response that didn’t have anything to do with music.

And finally, this is a page from the Carnegie Mellon University website

Thanks Karla for helping us out and contributing to the discussion!


Moving Musical Experiences and the Meditative State…

Some recent comments by friends and readers of this blog helped to inspire tonight’s post.

These comments were in response to one of my posts on the topic of meditation. Ash mentioned how easy it was for her to reach a meditative state when she was a teenager. In one of her comments she mentioned how she “could block it all out and just float right out of [her] head..”. Marilyn discussed how music (without lyrics) was a good source for meditation.

This really got me thinking back to some of my early memories and experiences involving music, and I wondered if some of these moments were me being in some kind of heightened meditative state.

I don’t recall ever leaving my body or experiencing anything truly supernatural, but growing up I remember sitting in my room with my Walkman listening to John Williams’ Jurassic Park soundtrack. I used to really be into film scores and John Williams is one of my biggest inspirations. I’d listen to one or two tracks over and over… sometimes probably for hours (I still do that… get addicted to one piece of music and can’t leave it). I remember many times being moved to tears by the feelings and emotions that are brought out by the music. I don’t think this was ever sadness, just me having a moment with the music.

There were other moments, like the times I would watch my mom with the choir from my church rehearsing or performing their Easter Cantatas from the sanctuary balcony. It was always the last scene that got me… always a big song with powerful orchestration and harmonies. The scene probably depicting Jesus’ resurrection. This, of course, led to me listening to the recordings of those cantatas over and over on my Walkman in the bedroom. Just sitting… listening… imagining things in my head… cue the tears. 🙂

When it comes to words or lyrics in music, honestly most of the time I don’t hear them. Many times I’ll sing along with the most random instrumental part deep in the background that most people don’t hear. So most of the time my emotional response just doesn’t have anything to do with the words or lyrics. This is sometimes hard for singers to understand. For so many people, the words ARE the music… and that’s hard for ME to understand… they just aren’t as important. As a vocal music teacher, I’m kind of in a category on my own I suppose. I often tell my students that you never know how someone will appreciate a piece of music or performance, or how a singer is experiencing it. It may not have anything to do with the words. Or… maybe I’m the only one.

So, I ask you this question… When we are having moving musical experiences, are these experiences just overactive emotions? Emotions are often connected with the Ego (sometimes thought of as our “false self”). Or, are our souls off spending time in some other spiritual realm without us consciously knowing it?

I leave you with the theme to Jurassic Park.

 

**UPDATE – A follow up to this post: Thoughts from Karla McLaren on Music & Emotion… a Follow Up…


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