Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Journal of a Soul 14

We identify people by their different characteristics: the contours of their body, the shape of their face, the colour of the hair or the sound of their voice or even of their laugh. Their selfhood or character is summoned up by the powerful blending of all these characteristics.  I wish to concentrate on only one of these qualities here, namely the last listed one - the sound of the human voice.

Some years back, I remember viewing a TV programme on those poor lost souls - the homeless or those of our number who live on our streets.  The most haunting thing about the whole programme was, in fact, a short recording of one of their number - some old tramp - singing a song or a hymn - I can't remember which at this point in time.  One heard snatches of this song judiciously placed at various emotionally moving points in the programme and at the end as the credits rolled.  Effectively, the voice of this anonymous tramp brought a tear to my eye, and, I'm sure, to many more viewers.

Arranmore lighthouse - July 2010
Some days ago I was teaching/helping/counselling a teenager who has been through some very rough times in his short life.  Another two students were due to attend this social education/personal development class but were absent on this occasion.  There were two other adults - a teacher and an SNA -  in the room.  I didn't wish to do anything too deep or too personal with the young teenager (16), but I knew he was a brilliant guitarist and singer who wrote some of his own songs.  I duly invited him to get a guitar from the music room and play some music for us.  What we ended up with was a 30 minute performance where the young man sang his heart/soul out literally through his music.  One song, he told us, was written for one of his best friends who had ended his own life, and the lyrics mentioned how this poor lost soul used cut himself with a knife.  We three adults were moved by the sound of the young man's voice, by the passion in it, by the soulful, tender and healing nature of the music.

How true it is, then, as the dramatist William Congrieve (1670 – 1729) declared that "Music has charms to soothe a savage breast."  This young man in my story has learned the lesson well that he can heal himself through his creativity.  It is one of the main contentions of  the  Existential School of Psychotherapy that all forms of creativity are avenues to healing the human soul.  The great American Existential therapist Rollo May always underscored this seminal point.

And so, as this young man sang his words, he weaved his musical magic which brought tears to other eyes.  Music in general, and the singing voice, which is also a wonderful instrument, are both means of great healing.

And as to what music may be, we are all at a loss to explain in the philosophical sense.  And yet, we know how real it is when we hear it and are emotionally and aesthetically moved by it.  And somewhere in its depths and heights, widths and breadths, we meet something powerfully healing and renewing.  It is something deeply connected with our true humanity.

Also, when people write poems or songs, they put a certain passion into what they compose and this passion is for a perceived beauty or value or truth which they have somehow apprehended, that "something understood" which the lyrical poet George Herbert (1593 - 1633) mentions as one of the results of the power of prayer.

There is also something natural and beautiful about good music, an inevitability of phrasing and sound in harmony with the heart and soul.  Like the first few posts in this particular blog, finishing with the soulful sound of a human voice may be the most appropriate way of ending this brief post. 

I'll put a link here to a group of lads called The Original Rudeboys as I taught one of their number and a brother of another of them.

Check out some others of their numbers, too.


The Original Rude Boys

No comments:

Post a Comment