Obviously, all music is not created equally. Composers and performers have different motivations to do what they do. Songwriters have all sorts of different intentions that move them to create songs.
These diverse motivations and intentions leave a subtle residual stamp on the music. When you listen to the music, especially when you hear it several times, those subtle factors from the music’s creator seep into your experience and affect you, too.
“Every man’s work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself.” – Samuel Butler (1612-1680)
You may be aware of how you are being affected, and therefore, deliberately choose the music you listen to. Most people are not consciously aware of the more subtle effects of music. They don’t choose their music with attention to detail, and as a result, the music takes them wherever it will, with the listener rarely connecting the dots between the music they hear and how they feel.
Potential to Go Deep
Music can touch us in ways that nothing else can. Songs can reach places deep within us where we are seldom touched. They are able to do this because of the way music stirs our emotions. When a song activates our emotions, the experience goes beyond the mind, beyond our thoughts, and communicates directly with our feelings.
This is sacred ground. This is the domain of our internal guidance system, as discussed in the previous article, “The Law of Attraction.”
“Music is the shorthand of emotion.” – Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)
This is a place deep inside where very few things can touch us. Music has access. Music can reach that point and communicates with our emotions directly. It seems like a good idea to have a watchman at the door to determine whether or not a particular song or type of music is appropriate for entry into our inner sanctum. (In the case of some of today’s outrageous, angry music, it may be better to post a bouncer at the door!)
Baby Steps to Feeling Better
When I was a kid, the older generation called our music loud. Yes, it was loud, but there was something else about it we liked. It felt good and it was a good fit at the time. Now that I am part of the older generation, I notice the music of today’s kids is still loud, but there’s something else about it I personally don’t relate to. It doesn’t feel good and it doesn’t fit me. Some of it sounds like audible anger — raucous rage.
There are some people who are so down and out, that these emotions are actually a step in a positive direction. For instance, for someone feeling utter despair, deep depression, or unworthiness, anger and rage is an improvement. It’s unlikely that a person currently experiencing despair could make a quantum leap to peace and joy, but hey, angry music could provide them with an emotional boost that helps them take a small step forward and move up the emotional scale toward something that feels a little better.
Even if they were determined to make a quantum leap emotionally, it would likely be temporary. The contrast is simply too great to maintain an emotional state drastically different to what they are accustomed to. Small steps allow them to feel a little better, and then take another small step to feel better still, etc. This more gradual climb up the emotional scale allows them time to get acclimated to the new emotional climate, before moving up to the next area.
Climbing the Emotional Ladder
From feelings of fear and unworthiness, perhaps music full of rage could help someone move up to anger so they could feel a little better. From there, they could become inspired to move on up to worry or doubt. From there, they could eventually move up to pessimism or boredom. From there, they will need to broaden their musical horizons to accompany them on their journey through hopefulness, enthusiasm, love and joy.
“Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life, bringing peace, abolishing strife.” – Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931)
Feel a Little Better
Unless we’re some kind of masochist, that’s really what all of us want . . . just to feel a little better. Music can be an effective tool to help us move in a positive direction, no matter where we currently are on the emotional scale.
It’s a matter of knowing approximately where you are right now emotionally, and choosing music that helps give you a boost.
“Music is a higher revelation than philosophy.” – Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Here’s an illustration from the other end of the spectrum. As I write this, I am sitting in the shade of a palm tree on the shores of a peaceful lake in Southern California. There’s a gentle breeze under sunny blue skies, and I am being entertained by the songs and antics of several kinds of ducks and other waterfowl.
At this moment, “techno shred metal power punk” music wouldn’t do me much good! However, soothing instrumental music with soaring melodies and tight harmonies that produce thrill-bumps would be nice. Or, songs crafted with the intention of offering lyrics that are positive, worthwhile and uplifting would be very pleasant.
“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” – Aldous Leonard Huxley (1894-1963)
You wouldn’t deliberately choose to get repeatedly smacked in the face with a wet fish, so why would you allow yourself to get beat up emotionally by music not suitable for where you are and where you want to go?
Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Songs
Have you ever wondered what’s happening behind the scenes in the lives of all those country songwriters and singers who specialize in the cry-in-your-beer, oh-woe-is-me, failed-relationship songs? I wonder how many of them pause long enough to ask themselves if their art is a reflection of their life or if their life is a reflection of their art. What’s the cause and what’s the effect? Considering the power of the Law of Attraction, I would not want to be in their shoes. (Or, boots rather.)
The Law of Attraction Applies to Music Too
Whatever you think about (or sing about) grows and attracts unto itself more and more similar thoughts. Then you infuse it with emotion (plenty opportunity for THAT in a sad country song), and you have the recipe for manifestation.
Attention to troubles continues to attract more of the same – every day . . . every moment. The Law of Attraction works the same way for everyone, whether you are the one writing the song or singing the song or listening to the song.
These songs have the potential to go deep . . . very deep, if you let them past your gatekeeper. Why would you do that?
The only reason why is if you just don’t know how these things work. Once the Law of Attraction is understood . . . and embraced, after seeing it in action in our own lives, its unthinkable to deliberately pollute our creative process with negativity of any kind. (Although this discussion is focused on music, the same principles apply to most television, radio, newspapers, gossip, as well as counter-productive songs.)
Garbage In . . . Garbage Out
This phrase was originally used by early computer programmers. To them, it meant if you did sloppy programming, you’d get sloppy results. Or, if you feed your computer garbage, the best results you can hope for is garbage. It’s a good metaphor for personal development in general and music for personal development, in particular.
To manifest the good stuff in our lives — to attract what we really want, it’s imperative to feed our minds a steady diet of the good stuff that provides balanced nutrition. This idea of garbage in . . . garbage out applies to all areas of our lives: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Even though the Law of Attraction is universal, people are not. We are a diverse, ever-changing lot, at all levels of experience and awareness. It’s as it should be and it’s all OK. There’s something for everyone, regardless of where we are on the emotional scale.
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” – Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
If someone is currently in an emotional state of insecurity or guilt, a heartbreak song about jealousy or revenge might sound pretty good and help lift them in a positive direction. There are apparently lots of people in those dire emotional situations due to the popularity of so much “ouch” music. (But that doesn’t mean you or I have to write that song . . . or sing that song . . . or listen to that song!)
“The truest expression of a people is in its dance and music.” – Agnes de Mile (1905-1993)
Music as a Tool for Personal Development
This article isn’t written for those wallowing in pitiful music. It’s written for you. You are interested in personal development and are ready to sit in the driver’s seat and do whatever you can to take more control of your life, and create it deliberately according to your ever-evolving preferences. Music is one of the tools that can help you do that.
Choose your music deliberately rather than allowing yourself to be an effect of whatever drivel is being dished out for mass consumption.
Trust Your Internal Guidance System
Notice how you feel after hearing a particular song or CD. If you catch yourself feeling worse, that’s good — you’ve just learned something. You now know what it feels like for your internal guidance system to say to you, “Avoid this music, it doesn’t fit your vibration – choose again and move on.”
Look for songs with inspiring music, with lyrics that celebrate life and encourage personal growth. Look for music that excites you in a positive way . . . music that makes you feel alive . . . happy . . . hopeful . . . and joyful.
“Music can name the unnamable and communicate the unknowable.” – Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)
After hearing a particular song or CD, do you feel better than before? If so, that’s your internal guidance system telling you the thoughts you are entertaining and the emotions you are allowing past your gatekeeper are moving you toward what you really want. This music is an effective tool for you, helping you be more aware of who you really are. It’s helping you move in the direction that, deep inside, you really want to go.
Go with it. Enjoy it. You’ve just found music that fits . . . an excellent traveling companion and a good friend that will continue to offer more gifts to you as you listen to it over and over.
Music to Give You a Lift
This is the kind of music I have always been attracted to . . . it’s what I listen to and it’s what I am dedicated to creating. I have always gravitated toward music with a hopeful message. Personally, I don’t care for music that comes off as “preachy” or “holier than thou”, but I am attracted to and soak up music with a positive outlook. I’ve always appreciated non-denominational, non-evangelical music with nothing to prove, no particular dogma to sell, but something worthwhile to offer for those with the ears to hear. If there are several layers of meaning, that’s even better.
After 27 years of recording our original songs, I feel excited and grateful now that technology has advanced to the point where almost anyone interested can hear our music. You can listen to excerpts of every song on every one of our CDs for free. (Streaming .mp3s)
Listening to our music for free helps to attract people of like mind, and like hearts. This technology allows folks to take our music for a test drive first, and then decide from personal experience if this kind of music fits or not.
My wife, Janey, and I, are known as Laughing Bird and our current CD titles (with lyrics) include:
Each of the titles above is a link that will take you to that CD’s webpage where you can read descriptions of each song, view the lyrics, download chord charts and listen to sound clips. The link below will take you to our home page:
There’s a tab at the top of each page of this blog website named “Songs.” Here you’ll find a list of which songs are referenced in all these articles. It includes the instrumental music offered at the beginning of each article as well as the songs with lyrics recommended at the end. You’ll also see which CD each song comes from. Here’s a shortcut link: Songs.
Note: The links from within these blog articles will allow you to hear the songs in their entirety. The sound clips available on our music website allow you to hear the first 2 minutes of every original song on every CD.
A Moving Picture Can Be Better Than 10,000 Words
We also have a video of our live performance available on DVD. It’s called, “Celebrate the Journey.” It’s two and a half hours of concert footage with personal interviews sprinkled throughout. There are also several hundred photos we’ve taken on our travels around the world incorporated into the video wherever appropriate — primarily during our travel songs. You can see a 7-minute preview of the video free by clicking here: Laughing Bird’s “Celebrate the Journey DVD.”
Laughing Bird In Concert
We are on tour for many months of the year, and travel all over the country. We may be coming through your neck of the woods sometime. If you are interested in catching one of our shows, we try to keep an updated tour schedule posted on the home-page of our website. Here’s a link to it: Laughing Bird’s Concert Calender.
Host a Laughing Bird Concert
Here’s a link with details of all the different kinds of performances we do and information about hosting a Laughing Bird concert.
Through the years, I’ve also found it very helpful to look for music conceived and performed deliberately to help the listener be still and peaceful. Some of the new-age music can take you by the hand and lead you to wonderful inner landscapes of tranquility and clarity.
“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossile to be silent.” – Victor Hugo (1802-1885)
Some “New-Age” Music is a Little Too “New”
Note: Some “new-age” music sounds like a 12-year-old got a new synthesizer for Christmas, found a button marked “mellow”, created a loop, hit the “record” button, went for a ride on his skateboard, and came back an hour later to hit the “stop” button and burn a CD. This kind of “music” feels very monotonous and irritating to me.
“Too many pieces of music finish too long after the end.” – Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky (1882-1971)
With the tools of the recording industry becoming ever-better and ever-cheaper, it’s more important than ever to choose deliberately. There’s a lot of amateur schlock out there, as well as some of the most amazing music you almost never heard. (You almost never heard it because the technology is new that makes so much refreshing and diverse music available. The internet allows independent artists and composers to reach their listeners directly without all the middle-men and without all the compromising, mind-numbing hoops the music “business” forces artists to jump through.)
I listen to instrumental music quite often as I am writing, reading, dining, relaxing or doing some other activity where lyrics would interfere. All too often, a mellow passage will lull me into a peaceful place, and then suddenly, BANG — the music gets rambunctious and breaks the spell. This experience planted the seed for me to create CDs deliberately designed to encourage and then allow the listener to get peaceful — and stay that way!
I had this idea on the back burner for a few years and every time I was jolted by an overly energetic change of pace in a selection of relaxing music, it would reinforce the idea. It would be so nice to have soothing music that leads the listener to a place of inner peace and tranquility without any jarring surprises. I didn’t get around to it though — I guess I needed some kind of catalyst to begin the creative process.
When the Artist is Ready, the Catalyst Appears
When we were traveling around Mexico a few years ago, we met a fascinating shaman named Spirit Walker Standing. On the night we met her, under the stars, after a spontaneous campfire concert on her birthday, she eased up to me and practically whispered, “It’s time for you to make some peaceful instrumental CDs.” She handed me the small strip of paper I had watched her fondle during the concert, and she said, “Here’s the title.” I unfolded the well-worn, small strip of paper and read only six words, “Celestial Sounds of Harmony and Light.”
That did it. It came about in such a cool way, I knew I had to try to create the music that would do justice to such an intriguing title.
Shortly thereafter, Janey and I built our own recording studio and the first CD recorded at Riversong Studio was “Celestial Sounds of Harmony and Light – Volume 1.” The next instrumental CD was “Wooden Voices,” a collection of acoustic guitar pieces accompanied by other wooden instruments, including 12-string guitar, dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, mandolin, violin, and percussion. Next, came “Celestial Sounds of Harmony and Light – Volume 2.”
If you have chosen to listen to any of the music linked at the beginning of each article, you’ve already heard music from the Celestial Sounds CDs and/or Wooden Voices. For more information, the following links take you directly to their description pages where you can read more about them and listen to free samples of all songs:
Conceived, Composed and Performed to Induce Peace and Deep Relaxation
The music on the Celestial Sounds CDs is all instrumental, using the soothing voices of mellow instruments including flutes, harps, strings, woodwinds, pianos, etc. The music ebbs and flows, so it really doesn’t maintain a “beat” as such, but it all “pulses” at around 60 beats per minute, (for an hour). I chose this pace deliberately, because after listening for a few minutes, the listener’s heartbeat and respiration begins to match the pace of the music, and encourages a deep relaxing experience. 60 beats per minute allows the body to ease into alpha state, which along with theta, is where the yogis and mystics “go” when they have their eyes closed with that subtle enigmatic smile on their face.
And guess what? There are absolutely no annoying jolts to knock you out of your reverie!
“Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons, and you will find that it is to the soul what the water bath is to the body.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935)
The Celestial Sounds CDs have been an amazing experience for me and I will be forever grateful to Spirit Walker Standing for being such an effective catalyst . . . to inspire me to get on with it and allow this music into the world.
Some Music Matters
It’s always so gratifying to hear from people, even from the other side of the world, who write to tell me how this music has been such a positive influence in their lives. If you’re interested in reading some of them, click the link below:
I am constantly amazed at the creative ways people have come up with to squeeze the maximum benefit from the music. People are using this music for meditation, massage, and various kinds of healing body-work. Others use it for yoga, tai chi and other martial arts disciplines. I love being able to offer people the opportunity to listen first, so they know from direct experience how it makes them feel.
A Lifetime of Music
For Janey and I, music has been a major part of our lives since we first met in the mid 70’s. For all these years, we’ve made our living, but more importantly, we’ve made a great life by creating and performing music that uplifts us while ignoring music that beats us up.
Putting the Value of Music in Perspective
I recently heard of a lady who was deaf since birth. Through the wonders of modern science, she was able to hear for the first time in her life. Her first experience of music brought tears to her eyes — a very intense emotional reaction. Can you imagine?
Think of how often we take music for granted.
Think of how it amplifies and provides the perfect backdrop for so many of life’s most important experiences.
Think of the soundtrack of your life, and the importance of choosing it deliberately.
Choose music to help you feel exactly how you choose to feel. Avoid the rest.
Life is too short to listen to bad music.
Yours for a song,
While reading, did you choose to hear the relaxing instrumental music linked at the beginning of this article? To learn more about it, click here.
Listen FREE to the songs below . . . chosen to enhance the ideas in this article.
Create your own personal celebration of life by your choices, rather than allowing life to be something that merely happens to you, or around you.
Love is Who You Are – Live Version
Hell or a Whole Lotta Fun
Miracle in Disguise
Songs by Tupelo
Reverence of Life Through Nature
Being Present through Sensuality
The Trouble with TV
Simple Toning Meditation
Articles by Tupelo
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(by Tupelo and Janey Kenyon - Laughing Bird)
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