Relaxing Music

Voice modulations that express emotions of relating in a psychological disorder, and in relational therapy. A pitch plot of a mother suffering from BPD speaking to her infant. She repeats the same phrase with monotonous intonation, making a slight reaction to critically timed sounds made by the infant, but cannot establish shared affective engagement. Changes in the prosody of a client’s speaking in communication with a therapist, before and after a therapeutic change, with improvement in self-confidence. At times our healthy ability for graceful gesturing is met with circumstances that do not allow it to be expressed with its natural healthy vitality.

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In 1969 Bateson had her first child after beginning postgraduate studies at MIT with Margaret Bullowa, researching language development using statistical analysis of vocal expressions. Observing a film in Bullowa’s collection as well as the experience of rich exchanges with her own infant opened her awareness of the form and timing of communication that developed in the first 3 months, which she called ‘proto-conversation’ . She benefitted from attention to the field studies of Albert Scheflen on the stream of conversation and Ray Birdwhistell on body movements in natural conversation . Our musical creativity and pleasure come from the way our body hopes to move, with rhythms and feelings of grace and biological ‘knowing’ (see Merleau-Ponty). The predicting, embodied self of a human being experiences time, force, space, movement, and intention/directionality in being.

Including views from inside the film-making process from the Bristol-based composer William Goodchild, and from the producer-director Vanessa Berlowitz and sound editor Kate Hopkins who have collaborated on award-winning series including the BBC’s Planet Earth and Frozen Planet. Tom also talks about the art of listening with the field recordist and microphone builder Jez riley French, and the writer and composer Pascal Wyse. The competition is open to anyone aged and resident in the UK and the £1,000 grant is sponsored by Selfridges as part of its Creativity is Not Cancelled campaign, supporting emerging creative talent, and in light of its long-term commitment to creating a more sustainable future for people and the planet. The winner will receive a £1,000 grant to support their work as well as a free professional remix with Tileyard London produced by Tileyard Education’s Principal and award-winning songwriter and producer Martyn Ware.

Later, the growing child will continue to play with how music can convey affect and change their own and others’ mood, the four-part structure of Introduction, Development, Climax and Resolution, identified above in the structure of a proto-conversation, becoming the basis of large scale musical works, as well as verbal argument . When taking part in a nursery song, infants demonstrate sensitivity for melodic phrase structure, attending to the rhyming vowels at the ends of lines, and by 5 months the infant can vocalize a matching vowel in synchrony with the mother . In spite of very different conventions in musical performances in different communities, a parent, or a child, wanting to share the pleasure of songs and action games with a baby, naturally adopts the intuitive formula of a poetic verse to share a story of body movement. A stimulating contribution to this new approach came from the work of anthropologist and linguist Mary Catherine Bateson, daughter of anthropologists Gregory Bateson and Margaret Meade.

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As Brazelton declared in Margaret Bullowa’s book, “The old model of thinking of the newborn infant as helpless and ready to be shaped by his environment prevented us from seeing his power as a communicant in the early mother-father-infant interaction. To see the neonate as chaotic or insensitive provided us with the capacity to see ourselves as acting ‘on’ rather than ‘with’ him” (Brazelton, 1979, p.79). As highlighted in the recent pandemic, the human relationship with the rest of nature is essential for our wellbeing, yet the climate and environment emergencies show that the human relationship with the rest of nature is broken. Nature means less and less in our lives and is disappearing as a reference in our music. We need, now more than ever, a new and more connected relationship with nature and music is a great way to celebrate nature and it’s essential role in our lives.

A restless future-seeking intelligence, with our urge to share it, inspires us to express our personalities as ‘story-telling creatures,’ who want to share, and evaluate, others’ stories . Quality – consisting of the contours of expressive vocal and body gesture, shaping our felt sense of time in movement. These contours can consist of psychoacoustic attributes of vocalizations – timbre, pitch, volume – or attributes of direction and intensity of the moving body perceived in any modality. Pulse – a regular succession through time of discrete movements (which may, for example, be used to create sound for music, or to create movement with music – dance) using our felt sense of acting which enables the ‘future-creating’ predictive process by which a person may anticipate or create what happens next and when. Evocative, rich and lyrical, the Norwegian composer’s music is always very special – and his only piano concerto is one of the finest pieces ever written for the instrument. Our Full Works Concert presenter Jane Jones says this work is “healing, calming and reassuring all in one go. The moment the piano finally comes in after the orchestra in the second movement is one of the most moving in all of classical music with its sensation of utter relief.”

The notion of music as expressive of the movements of our inner life has also been explored by music theorists, most notably Ernst Kurth . Likewise, in his book Self comes to Mind, Antonio Damasio likens all our emotion and feeling to a ‘musical score’ that accompanies other ongoing mental process (Damasio, 2010, p.254). Consciousness is created as the ongoing sense of self-in-movement with which we experience and manipulate the world around us. Its origin is in our evolutionary animal past, evolved for new collaborative, creative projects, regulated between us by affective expressions of feelings of vitality from within our bodies (Sherrington, 1955; Panksepp, 1998; Damasio, 2003; Mithen, 2005; Stern, 2010; Eisenberg and Sulik, 2012). For him ‘common sense’ is based on a direct experience of external reality, experience that becomes internal in language, which is based on an innate capacity pre-dating human consciousness, and acting as an instrument for that consciousness. If, says Reid, children were to understand immediately the conceptual content of the words they hear, they would never learn to speak at all.

A sense of time in the mind is the fabric from which movements of all kinds are woven into ambitious projects that value elegance with efficiency. It is a manifestation of the ‘biochronology’ that is essential to the vitality of all forms of life . In Rhythms of the Brain, György Buzsáki presents a wealth of evidence that the brain functions as a coherent rhythmic system, always in synch., and with a rich array of rhythms that are organized to collaborate. The ability to create meaning with others through wordless structured gestural narratives, that is, our communicative musicality, emerges from before birth and in infancy. From this innate musicality come the various cultural forms of music. Musicking is knowing bodies coming alive in the sounds they make.