Indian Classical Music as Therapy


That music therapy in the West has been in practice for some decades is a well-known fact. But how many of you know about the therapeutical qualities that Indian Classical Music possesses?


Music has a unique way of being interpreted in different parts of the world. The Indian classical music represents the very essence of concepts, guidelines and their practical application which have evolved over hundreds of years.


Many therapists believe that classical Indian Ragas can benefit in curing in insomnia, schizophrenia, blood pressure, and depression and other neurological issues.


Before we move ahead on this, it is important to know that Indian music songs and therapy through them is not a rival to other forms of therapies.



The Magic of RAGAS –



Indian music including many of the old Bollywood songs that one finds in an online music library are based on two essential features:


  1. Melody: Raga, Swara, Shruti, etc
  2. Rhythm: Tala and Laya – the way they are perceived



Raga is a set of approximately 12 notes. Raga is made up of at least 5 out of 12 notes and are linked with time of the day in North India. Ragas are used for different moods, emotions and purposes such as peace-harmony, fear, relaxation, healing and even pregnancy. They are believed to be the carriers of healing qualities that helps a person come out through emotional issues or trauma.


[Read More – Indian songs are classics, what makes them so? Click Here]


Some prominent Raga examples –


  1. Raga Bhairav – Expressed as Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni. It is supposed to bring color and joy in one’s life


  1. Raga Punnagavarali – Carnatic Raga to control anger and bring down violence within


  1. Raga Pooriya and Todi – This is prescribed to those who suffer from hypertension


  1. Raga Malahar – A set of 36 Ragas are included in this and is used to evoke rains. Most of the monsoon songs are composed in rural India in the rainy season.



How it works?


Fig: Nigel Osborne                                                            (image source: tinderboxproject)



The working of therapeutic process through Indian classical music was once explained by British music composer, Nigel Osborne in an interview to an Indian daily. Osborne who sees therapy through music as his social mission had this to say:



‘’Indian classical music is particularly powerful in therapeutic processes because in my opinion it encompasses the whole human evolution and the whole of our personal development in it, in the way the raga is developed. For example, the drone, the saa is not just one note, but it contains all. The whole harmonic series – the natural behaviour of symmetrically vibrating objects – is present in that. That’s why in learning this music, we spend so long singing just sa. It is a note that has no beginning and end. It envelopes and contains our consciousness. We become enfolded in it. That’s just the beginning.


When the aalaap begins, these kinds of movements have a recognised impact on the brain cells and they relate to a very ancient form of communication between human beings which existed before language. Then, we move to the ultimate sophisticated kind of note structure which are picked up by the higher cognitive functions of the brain. Our emotions get sculpted by these.


Finally, rhythm in Indian classical music excites the most primitive as well as higher cognitive areas and stimulates the motor cortex. There is a high level of abstraction and design, which are as much intellectual as they are emotional.’’




Between Spirituality and Meditation



Indian classical mp3 songs have an element of spirituality that is inseparable. It is a mirror of India’s spiritual culture. Hindustani classical music is sung in such a way that is soft and fluid with proper pronunciation of words. That is why even during a live performance Indian classical singers knowingly or unknowingly initiate a spiritual experience that makes the audience loose their personal self in a positive way. This takes them to a level of ”Meditativeness”.


The way Ragas and notes are used it goes beyond mere entertainment to reach spirtuality



And finally, the Secret INGREDIENT….



The word for sound in Indian music is Nada. (Na – Air or Life | Da – Fire or Energy)

There are no old and new songs or any music without Nada. Infact, Lord Brahma is considered to be the form of Nada.


The modern science perceives music as a result of vibration. It is more than a harmonious arrangement of sounds to them on a technical level. They differentiate between good sounds (music) and bad sound (noise). But to someone who can enjoy the goodness of life, everything becomes music.


The vibrations of nada are put into practice to uplift one’s level of consciousness. A yoga of devotion, an art form of divine, the Indian classical music is a window to humanity and a reminder of ultimate purpose of life.






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