Sunday, 16 October 2011

Sounds of Life

Sounds of Life

In his book The Tao of Music, John M. Ortiz writes about how we use music to affect our mood and looks closely at how our mental health is affected by the music we choose to listen to. In one case study he talks about a client called Donna who became depressed; uncharacteristically tired, overeating and loosing self esteem. Ortiz encouraged he to make an ‘entrainment’ mix-tape, one of which reflected the low mood she was feeling. After some initial resistance she agreed and began compiling a series of sad and generally miserable tracks from her record collection. Once that side of the tape was recorded, she then added some more upbeat tracks that reflected the feelings she wanted to recapture on side 2. (Yes, this was an experiment that took place in the 1990’s when TDK 90 min cassette tapes were used daily to re-record and share music between one another – the original way to ‘illegally file-share’!)

Ortiz was interested to find that almost all of the songs Donna chose to put onto her mix-tape had some significant meaning to her and formed a sort of ‘life-soundtrack’. In later sessions together they discussed the meaning of each song and the relevance of the order in which they were compiled. Donna also revealed that she had used the tape on many occasions at home and in the car to affect her mood in a positive way; she felt that she had in some way gained control over her feelings and devised her own way of working through her depression by using music.


Last week I was introduced to the Ortiz text and asked to produce a music ‘life-line’ of my own, which I have just completed. Of all the things I have been asked to do during my 2 years so far studying on the Creative Arts Therapies course, this has to be one of my favourite – I couldn’t wait to get digging in my music collection! I am to share it with my new CATS group tomorrow, so I thought I would post it here for future reference. If you choose to listen to it, I hope you enjoy it - and I look forward to hearing your life story soon too.



1 comment:

  1. Interesting!

    I haven't yet listened to your mix (I am in a busy café at the moment) but I will do so as soon as I can.

    Almost every significant memory I have, since about age 13, is linked to a song (usually a song; sometimes another piece of music).

    I don't consciously use music to affect my own mood now, though I'm aware that my mood subconsciously "dials up" an appropriate sound track, and that tends to be an upper if circumstances are difficult. However ... I remember, in the second half of my teens, using a more homeopathic approach. When I found myself in one of those suicidally black and self pitying moods which teenage hormones occasionally produced, I would put on a Leonard Cohen LP ("Songs of Love and Hate" for example, or "Songs From a Room") and they were SO depressing than anything in my own life that they pushed me down, down, out of the bottom and I floated up again into sunlight :-)