• The Minstrel

Music and Magic: Lyrics and Mental Health

Disclaimer: I only think I know what I'm talking about.

Music and Magic, the concept has been around for an extremely long time. Old tribal cultures would use vocal chants or specific instruments with other variables to achieve their spiritual needs from healing to divination. As time went on, and society started to become modern, music became less of a ceremonial event to participate in and more of a personal experience, and a science to understand and perfect.

When you listen to the hits station of any genre on your radio, you might be able to see what I mean here. All of the songs that play are incredibly similar to each other. The notes are strung together very similarly, the songs are structured practically the same. If you pay close enough attention, I'm sure the feelings you get from listening to these songs are going to be the same too. If you then bought the album that had one of these formulized songs, you might notice a huge contrast over what you heard on the radio.

To me, something went wrong here: We identified with the music that gives us good feelings because we identified with the feelings described in the songs. This has made us lost on the full potential that music has. My case for this is one of my favorite bands: Linkin Park.

It wasn't a secret that Chester Bennington was battling some serious depression, PTSD and other mental health problems before and during his time in Linkin Park. His catharsis was being able to sing and scream his woes lyrically into his music. Despite his self perscribed music therapy (and likely real perscribed psychological therapy) he still lost the battle and committed suicide. Throughout his career, he garnered a huge fanbase, all relaying that they felt the same mental health issues he did. Upon his death, calls to the suicide prevention hotline went up. I can't say for sure how many ended their lives with Chester that day, but I can logically imagine that it happened.

Even more so, is how many bands started to rise in the Nu Metal scene, emulating the same message and tone as Linkin Park. A positive feedback loop with disastrous implications was created.

This isn't exclusive to Linkin Park and the Hard Rock/Nu Metal scene. Alternative music relays similar messages of depression, anxiety and hopelessness. Grindcore and heavier genres depict messages of anger, violence and physical coercion in an unjust system. Pop music and lighter genres send messages of escapism and addiction.

We go through life listening to these musicians, being influenced by them. We choose to identify with the emotions and physical sensations that these musicians have carefully constructed within their music to express. It doesn't matter whether or not these emotions and feelings were lingering within us the whole time. What does matter, is that proper healing is hard to find in the music we listen to unless you're actively searching for it. There is music out there that does the trick though, but are you listening to it? Do you think it can be found in the genre you're comfortable listening to?

I tend to think so. If you have the courage, you could ask why you identify with the emotions and feelings that resonate with you as you listen to these songs. Chances are you'll be sent on a journey through your memories to uncover the source of the feelings. Those emotions, the physical sensations, and the memory or thought that brought about the former, do you have the strength to let it go? Do you know how to let it go?

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