One of my favorite clinical improvisation techniques in guiding my clients through music making by breaking down the elements of music, and making subtle changes to get to where we collectively want to go. Different combinations of tempo, dynamics, pitch, texture, melody and harmony create different moods or feelings. Communicating on this non-verbal level is a powerful experience for both my clients and for me as a musician, music therapist, and container for the experience. From this place, we can discuss and explore changes in feeling states.
Several weeks ago I heard a report on a study about how music communicates feeling in other cultures. Essentially, music that we westerners typically describe as sad, is also perceived the same way in other cultures. This is fascinating, and speaks to the universality of our experience as listeners.
Check out this nice post called “Musical Minds” by Steven B. Jackson in Psychology Today for a little more information about culture and musical perception.
When you or a loved one is struggling with shifting moods, remember that listening to music and actively playing music can be a catalyst for change. Finding and listening to the music that feels great to you can be a really good place to start.