by Trudi Miller Rosenblum
June 22, 1996
The Sound of Healing
By Judith Pinkerton
Alliance Publishing, Inc.
195 pages, $16
In this fascinating book, music therapist/motivational speaker/violinist Judith Pinkerton uses the strategies of music therapy to show how music can change one's mood. Of course, most of us have instinctively used music in this way at one time or another, such as putting on a favorite song to cheer ourselves up, but Pinkerton takes this idea further explaining how to structure a program of music to most effectively dispel anger, calm the nerves, motivate oneself, chase the blues away, or even alleviate physical pain. Pinkerton discusses the basic components of music that affect emotions, including tempo, rhythm, melody, harmony, instrumentation, and intensity, and uses those components to categorize the mood of a piece: unsettled, soothing, sad, anxious, cheerful, angry, etc.
Her theory is that to effectively use music, one should first listen to music that exactly matches one's mood. Then, gradually, as one changes the music, one's mood will change. So, for example, if one is angry, listening to soothing music can actually be jarring, -- the contrast between one's angry mood and the calm music can be irritating and annoying, Instead,
Pinkerton advises listening to angry, unsettling music first, to equate the music with the mood. Then, when one changes the music to a soothing selection, one's mood will follow suit. Finally, an energizing, cheerful piece can put the listener back in a good mood.
Pinkerton offers many examples of music that fit each emotion. First, she discusses each emotion and talks about music that works for almost everyone (for example, nearly everyone will be soothed by Pachelbel's Canon in D Major). Then she discusses specific genres of music -blues, gospel, soul, folk, country, jazz, R&B, rock, rap, country, new age, classical - so that fans of each genre can get a wide range of examples of music they can use in structuring a personal music therapy program. The book also includes quotes from musicians and singers, including Natalie Cole and Burt Bacharach.
Pinkerton also cautions that music is not a cure-all: For deep depression or emotional problems, professional help should be sought. But for an average personal seeking to dispel a temporary bad mood, this book can be an invaluable resource.