Classical music and collective consciousness
Regular readers will know that this blog is not a great fan of classical charts. So it is amusing to note that three of the top ten CDs in this week's UK classical chart as featured on BBC Radio 3 have been the subject of in depth articles here -
#5 - Voices, Chant from Avignon, nuns of Notre Dame de l'Annonciation
#6 - Nielsen Symphonies 4 & 5, Sir Colin Davis and London Symphony Orchestra
#9 - John Tavener Towards Silence, the Medici, Finzi, Cavaleri and Fifth Quadrant Quartets and Louisa Golden.
- while two more chart artists, André Rieu (#1) and Eric Whitacre (#7), have appeared in related articles.
In October 1967 Abbie Hoffman and friends attempted to levitate the Pentagon by mass singing and chanting at the peace rally seen above. Hoffman and many others were influenced by the 1960 book The Morning of the Magicians (Le Matin des magiciens) by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier which anticipated Facebook flash mobs by half a century with this observation:
Nothing in the universe can resist the cumulative ardour of a sufficiently large number of enlightened minds working together in organised groups.In support of their notorious but fascinating views on the power of the collective consciousness Pauwels and Bergier cite names that have appeared on recent paths including Sri Aubindo, René Guenon, G.I. Gurdjieff and the French philosopher and Jesuit priest Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) . The Eighth Symphony of Edmund Rubbra is subtitled Hommage à Teilhard de Chardin. Could mass singing and chanting by Overgrown Path readers now levitate Norman del Mar's magnificent Lyrita recording of Edmund Rubbra's Symphonies Sixth and Eighth Symphonies into the upper reaches of the specialist classical chart?
Despite its whacky tone this path does lead to the important question of classical music as entertainment or as a contribution to well-being? I am well aware of the dangers of the thread being subsumed into the dreaded 'masonic melting-pot of religiosity'. But, for me, some of the ideas associated with, for instance, music therapy have more relevance to the future of classical music than a lot of the stuff currently floating around the social media. Music thanatalogy, which involves entering the mass media no-go zone of the care of the terminally ill, is one example. Therese Schroeder-Sheker has pioneered the use of music with the terminally ill and this description of her work contains lessons that are relevant far beyond palliative care:
Schroeder-Sheker explains that the vocal and harp music offered is never the same, even if people are dying of the same disease. The prescriptive music is designed in the moment to match the dynamic physiological changes taking place in the patient's nervous, respiratory, circulatory, and metabolic systems. It is always delivered live, because it is made specifically appropriate to the changing physical, emotional, and spiritual state of the one who is dying.Which sounds like a pretty good definition of transmission to me. Away from palliative care there are many other examples of classical music enhancing well-being. For instance the Mantra Mountain project shows how music can beneficially harness the collective consciousness. Read more here.
* Quote about Therese Schroeder-Sheker's work with music thanatology comes from The Benedictine Gift to Music by Katharine Le Mée (ISBN 0809141787) Also recommended is Chant: The Origins, Form, Practice, and Healing Power of Gregorian Chant by the same author. And to show there is nothing new under the sun searching those last links revealed a forgotten post here on exactly the same subject six years ago.
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