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Mitch Nur
from: Mitch Nur
Category: Sound Research

Sound as a Therapy: A Brief Historical Overview

The popularity of working with Sound in a therapeutic manner has been with us for at least 14,000 years. Evidence through Archeomusicology and Ethnomusicology provides a clear picture that today’s popularity is built upon a long standing belief. Petroglyphs in Mongolia and Azerbaijan, show us the approach of the Kam culture in curing patients in Kazakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Altai, Siberia, and Mongolia. Babylonian cuneiform tablets show overwhelming substantiation of the importance of music in their culture, even offering cautionary warnings regarding the proper tuning of instruments in regards to tension and relaxation. Terra-cotta figures excavated from Mesopotamia and Elam show both men and women holding musical instruments representing a dancing movement, an illustration of the Biblical passage where David danced before the Ark. The Sama Veda, a sanskrit text from 1000BC lays the foundation for the Ragas, a word meaning ‘color’ or ‘passion,’ becomes incorporated into Ayurvedic medicine as a means of music therapy. Avicenna proposed that music was the most effective way to increase the patients mental and spiritual strength. Farabi devoted 12 chapters in his Book of Healing to the curative value of music. Nine Hundred years ago, Sultan Nuruddin Zengi built a hospital in Damascus that incorporated music therapy, and the Ottoman Sultan Bayazid the 2nd decreed that music was to be used in the hospitals throughout his kingdom in the 15th century.

This is but a small sampling of evidence provided through Archeomusicology and Ethnomusicology that reveals the widespread use of music and sound therapy worldwide; so it’s not so much that ‘music is the medicine of the future’, but the mere fact that we have rediscovered it’s storied past.

© 2016 Mitch Nur, PhD

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