Music and health

NPR presents an article on the work of jazz drummer and music therapy professor Milton Graves’s work on music and the heart (Music of the Human Heart May Hold Clues to Healing). The page also has links to a discussion with several music therapists (Music Therapy) and to an interview with Professor Graves on his own work in music therapy (Professor Milford Graves). His work has its roots in the traditional African use of music in healing.

It’s probably no surprise that Chinese medicine also uses a form of music therapy. The system is based on the Law of 5 elements and relates specific types of sounds and music to specific organs and emotions. The goal is to bring unbalanced emotions and organs back into balance.

As an example, flute music belongs to the Wood element. It can be used to strengthen a sluggish liver and to counter apathy (symptoms of Deficient Wood, which is balanced by increasing Wood), or to calm a digestive system that’s working too hard and to counter worry and anxiety (symptoms of Excessive Earth, which is also balanced by increasing Wood, because Wood decreases Earth).

Dr. Zhang and I wrote a complete treatise on  the use of music for healing in Chinese medicine in the 2005 edition of the Chinese Almanac, our earlier publication.

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