Sound plays a powerful role in our lives: playing the ‘right’ music can affect us in very positive ways by energizing, relaxing, nurturing, or providing emotional release. So it’s important to choose appropriate music to bring into our homes, work spaces and therapy rooms. We notice instantly when a noise is too loud, or if music is discordant or fails to fit our mood, but happily the reverse is also true. Music can be a great comfort, and can bring a real sense of ‘suspending time’ from thinking about the cares of life. It plays other important roles too, such as changing a mood, bringing people together socially, masking unwanted sound from neighbours or the environment, and even helping to disguise the irritating effects of tinnitus.
Finding the right music
Symbiosis have discovered a number of factors which consistently give the best results when making music for relaxation. Most important is the choice of instruments. Real instruments - especially flutes, acoustic guitar and carefully selected keyboards - create a very gentle soundscape and bring a sense of ‘air’ and life into the music. Additionally, our research indicates that creating music without any obvious tunes or patterns helps to produce very deep relaxation. Tunes seem to tie up the mind, as do drum beats, which actively encourage a continuous response in the listener. And if you go the ‘relaxing classics’ route there is a danger that some pieces will have heavy emotional ‘baggage’ attached: whereas using music written specially for the purpose of relaxation seems to keep the mind clearer and gives better results!
Other things that Symbiosis, as composers, can do to help are: using a very slow tempo; avoiding unexpected changes; and making music flow easily from one piece to another without an obvious break. The ultimate challenge is to write slow music without any tunes and still make it enjoyable and musically valid! Judging by the feedback from those already using our CDs and tapes, our efforts have been a great success!
Advice for Therapists
Many therapists find that playing music helps to establish a welcoming atmosphere in treatment rooms, and if clients are comfortable with music during the session they usually talk less and are more receptive to treatment. Most massage practitioners now use CDs to avoid getting oil on their sound equipment or having to stop to change the music, and one vital factor for professional users is to find albums which are long enough to play continuously without repeating through a one hour session. Hearing tapes time and time again, practitioners soon notice the benefits of having a musical atmosphere which supports their work without any obvious tunes to learn and be bored by! Albums which play throughout an entire treatment and evolve slowly during the session give the added bonus of allowing practitioners to maintain a subtle sense of timing during their work.
How Symbiosis can help
Applying all these ideas, Symbiosis have produced a number of albums with deep relaxation and practitioners in mind. Touching the Clouds was our first album created specially for holistic therapies, running 72 minutes on CD or 90 minutes on cassette. It has a spacious and Zen-like quality much loved by practitioners and general listeners alike, and has been particularly successful in massage, reiki, yoga, healing and meditation. Amber and Jade is now rivalling Touching the Clouds in popularity, with its slightly more ‘Western’ pastoral sounds and high suitability for massage, aromatherapy, reflexology and all forms of relaxing listening. Both these albums have been written with tracks flowing one into another: the musical equivalent of a massage therapist maintaining contact with the client through a session!
The Sea of Light and Song of the Peach Tree Spring CDs both play for over an hour, have enthusiastic listeners from a broad range of uses, and are very well-suited to holistic work and individual or group meditation. The Comfort Zone combines the gentlest of tracks from all our albums, is an excellent choice for therapists and makes a perfect gift to yourself or any friend or relative who is suffering from an overdose of the stresses of life!