Thursday, 14 February 2013

Musical Modes: A Forgotten Solution to Mental Balance

Musical Modes: A Forgotten Solution to Mental Balance

In todays high pressure society, many seek methods to help with mental balance! There are lots of potential answers in the Personal development marketplace today: Yoga, Meditation, Tai chi, Pilates, NLP etc…

These can work very well, but all require at least some degree of discipline. The need to be learned, and you do need to make time in your hectic routine to practise the techniques.

If only there was a programme you could run for mental balance and inner harmony!

Well, fortunately there is! You can solve the problem simply by listening to, or playing music: not ordinary music, but music of a very special type.

We all know that music affects our emotional states. But there is a power concealed within the maths of the musical scale that has lain unused since pre-biblical times. I mean modal music. You can hear these modes if you listen to ancient songs, dances and carols. Greensleeves, for instance, is modal - (at least, the majority of it is). Another example is Jazz. Most Jazz Modes are, in fact, medieval!

Modal music actually goes back a lot further than medieval times. It persisted into medieval times, and even evolved to form the basis of the Jazz modes. But the ageless therapeutic wisdom has disappeared and the way modal music is composed has altered from the primeval science. So it is not as therapeutically effective as it was in times immemorial.

Pythagoras taught a system, in Ancient Greece, for using modal music to stimulate mental balance. He utilized the same modes as the composers of the (then) future. But he used them in a very specific way, so I shall refer to them as Pythagorean Modes.

An important part of his philosophy was The Four Temperaments (or Humours):

* Phlegmatic
* Choleric
* Sanguine
* Melancholic

Other elements from Pythagoras have also been perpetuated e.g. Pythagoras' Theorem. But his technique of healing music has sadly been consigned to the historical waste-bin.

Pythagoras' technique of healing music works in the following way:

There are eight modes:

1. Dorian
2. Hypodorian
3. Phrygian
4. Hypophrygian
5. Lydian
6. Hypolydian
7. Mixolydian
8. Hypomixolydian

Each mode exacerbates or ameliorates the qualities of one of the Temperaments.

If you went to your physician complaining of lack of resolve in the face of some challenge, he would say that your choleric humour needed strengthening and suggest that you listen to music in the phrygian mode.

Or, if you went to him complaining of feeling irritable, he would most likely inform you it was the result of a heightened choleric humour, and would send you off with instructions to listen to the hypophrygian mode to reduce it.

Each one of the Four Temperaments has two modes connected with it, one of which increases the effect of the humour, and one which decreases it.

In the follow-up article I will reveal a little more about the Four Temperaments and the modes which balance them.


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