Music is a holy place, a cathedral so majestic that we can sense the magnificence of the universe, and also a hovel so simple and private that none of us can plumb its deepest secrets.―
I read The Mozart Effect by the late Don Campbell (2012) in the late 1990s. In the opinion of many (including me), it was destined to become a classic! Campbell was the authoritative voice for the transformative power of music — and in particular, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart‘s music. But I’m getting ahead of myself… because it begins with music… ANY music… rock and rap included! Whatever moves ya!
Campbell dares to suggest that music doesn’t just make us feel better… but actually heals.
Music sets up a certain vibration which unquestionably results in a physical reaction. Eventually, the proper vibration for every person will be found and utilized. – George Gershwin
I can’t believe I haven’t shared one of my favorite stories about music… but I looked… I haven’t. In one of my earlier posts (found here) I mentioned a story I would tell at a later time – and that time has come!
It was 1989 and I was just over 30, living in the High Desert of California with my three young children (all under 8). My (then) husband worked “down the hill” (which meant through the Cajon Pass into Southern California) and came home every weekend (until he could find a job up the hill). He had our only car with him. There were reasons for this move that I’ll share in a moment. Just know that I was pretty-much an emotional wreck.
Up to that point, music was always something I enjoyed but did not – as in NOT – tap into its healing powers. I sang and danced to it, sure! I listened to it blaring from a transistor radio at the beach.
There were moments… like the day I had the high school auditorium all to myself and listened to John Lennon’s Imagine as I swept across the floor in my socks, arms outstretched…
You may say I’m a dreamer…
Until that day in the desert – and it changed EVERYTHING.
We lived in a beautiful newly-built apartment complex with a stream in the front yard, meandering through a lush lawn landscape. It was an oasis in the desert, really, and some days, I stood out front and could see way up into the back of the mountains that marked the “High” and “Low” … “Southern” and “Northern”… and it was so pristinely clear back then. Not a lot of people… lots of vacant land. (Unlike now!)
I hated it.
The reasons for our move were many – all of them bad, originating from my (then) husband and his 7-year-itch. Actually, it doesn’t matter what the reasons were… now that I think of it… the point is, I had been moved away from my family, friends, and Southern California. Two hours further away from the beach… the water… my spiritual solace.
And then I had a miscarriage.
I was broken.
Every day around 4pm, the winds came, warm and whipping. It was one of those afternoons that I found myself standing on a small rolling hill on the front grass with my radio and headphones. Completely alone for the moment.
I was flipping around stations. And then I heard something … so beautiful… and the world stopped. I strained to hear, twisted the knobs on the radio… and then, it came through clearly…
I saw the desert as I’d never seen it before… warm, vast, healing. The grounds of our apartment were a beautiful contrast. I’d made it through the hell of the past year…
I closed my eyes…
… and cried… and cried some more. In gratitude.
I had never heard it before. I’d missed the name. The chorus was so familiar… wasn’t that Beethoven? Yes, yes it was! It was the 2nd movement of the Pathetique Sonata. I didn’t know the name of it before but I hummed it at the record store… and the clerk told me. Fancy that! So, the chorus was familiar. Like this:
But what was the song I’d heard? It had words… and a haunting voice.
And so I went in search… listened to the radio non-stop… asked my friends… went to music stores… and do you know how long it took me to find it? A whole year! And that was on vinyl. A 45… just the one song.
It wasn’t until 1999 that I found it on CD, which is coveted among my CD collection.
If you listen to it now, you’ll say… um… well.
I have an idea what you might think because I’ve told people about it and asked them if they wanted to listen… and they did… and, er… well, let’s just say… I guess you had to have been there.
See, that’s the thing about the Mozart Effect. It’s really about ALL music… but also NOT. I mean, c’mon, Mozart is in the title.
I’ve gone so long on this post that I feel like I should wrap it up… except I’m not finished yet!
How about …This book is ALL KINDS OF EXCELLENT. There is no time stamp on Campbell’s work. It valuable *right now* and will be 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s timeless, that’s what I mean. 🙂
As far as Mozart is concerned, here is an interesting article on whether or not his music will make you smarter: Debating The Mozart Theory
What else will music do? The Mozart Effect Resource Center