THE LISTENER | Stressing


by Skylar

Hello again readers.

This last week’s meeting focused on how music can alleviate stress. This is a topic that was discussed towards the very beginning of “The Listener,” but Dr. Ortiz’s book (The Tao of Music, see previous columns) outlined it in a different way than I did and I thought it would be worth revisiting.

The new idea presented in the book is the idea of soothing music. Dr. Ortiz explains that there is both good stress and bad stress that we face in life, and most of it is open to our own perceptions. He lists ten practical ways to alleviate the bad stress in our lives, and one method closer to the bottom of the list is to “treat yourself to at least twenty minutes of undisturbed, soothing music” (pg. 54).

That’s exactly what we did last week during group. There was a little bit less discussion, and more concentration on music that we found to be soothing. Below is a list of all the songs that were played.

  • “Concerning Hobbits” – Howard Shore (from The Lord of the Rings Soundtrack)
  • “Heralds” (acoustic) – Wolves at the Gate
  • “Tunnel Vision” – Molly’s Worst Enemy
  • “Faith” – Hearts and Hands
  • “Clairvoyant” – The Story So Far
  • “Heart of Gold” – Heartist
  • “May It Be” – Enya (from The Lord of the Rings Soundtrack)
  • “Pent Up” – Favorite Weapon
  • “Without You Here” – Light You Up
  • “Skin and Bones” – Fit For a King
  • “Janet’s Planet” – Haste the Day
  • “Some Will Seek Forgiveness, Others Escape” – Underoath
  • “Pardon Me” – Incubus
  • “The Blood of Cu Chulainn” – Jeff and Mychael Danna
  • “Vaulted Ceilings” – Memphis May Fire
  • “The Great I Am” – Agraceful
  • “Extraordinary Dinner Party” – La Dispute
  • “Sleep In the Sea” – Dayseeker
  • “Chemical Kids and Mechanical Bridges” – Pierce the Veil
  • “Inertia” – In Hearts Wake
  • “Airplanes” – B.O.B. (feat Hayley Williams)
  • “Friends Don’t Let Friends Die Alone” – These Hearts
  • “Life Cycles” – The Word Alive

Towards the end of the chapter, Dr. Ortiz has many pages of suggestions for soothing music, and most of them are classical or instrumental selections. There is absolutely nothing wrong with these suggestions, I am merely pointing this out to show the difference between his suggestions and the music played in our group. It very accurately displays my personal favorite aspect of music: the fact that it is a completely different entity for each listener. Just looking at what different people consider to be soothing shows us the impact that different styles of music has on different people, and yet music is one thing that brings astounding numbers of people together.

This last weekend, I took another opportunity to observe this. I traveled with a few close friends and my girlfriend to La Crosse, Wisconsin to attend a show at The Warehouse. The band we were all there to see is one that has come up numerous times in our weekly playlists: Dayseeker. They played an excellent set as usual, but throughout the night I observed a lot of energy for more than just their set. The opening band, In Light of Us, had an energetic response that did not die for the second band Rig Time, still continued through American Zero, Outlanders, and Dayseeker, and hit a peak for the headlining band, The Ongoing Concept. I’ve made this observation many times at The Warehouse, and it has remained true over the years that I’ve been there: kids that go to shows at The Warehouse love music and are able to express it there. The Warehouse has recently become my favorite venue for this reason, and also because it reminds me of Station 4. Station 4 shows, even small local ones, had this kind of energy from kids coming out to shows just to have a good time. Music soothes them, and these are/were great places to go.

During Dayseeker’s set specifically I made one observation that stood out to me. One of the close friends I went to this show with is a regular group member who loves Dayseeker (almost as much as I do). During their set, they played “Sleep in the Sea.” Making the connection to the list above (hint hint), you’ll notice that this group member finds this song personally soothing. I watched him enjoy the song as it was played in front of his face, and I observed the face of a man at peace. It’s something that I’ve felt at plenty of shows in my lifetime, and something I’ve felt at a Dayseeker show as well (they played “Hollow Shell” once).

As much of a release as it is for us fans to watch our favorite songs played in front of us, it’s also a good way for artists to express themselves. Using Dayseeker as an example, Rory writes all of his lyrics based on his own life and things he feels should be expressed. “Incinerate,” track 4 on What It Means to be Defeated is an expression of his thoughts towards the man who murdered his uncle. “The Quiet Disconnect,” track 10 from the same album, is a eulogy of sorts to a friend who passed. A more recent example is found on their new album Origin with the song “The Earth Will Turn,” which is an expression of Rory’s thoughts towards his mother and her drug addiction. Rory isn’t the first artist to do this but it’s still an amazing thing to me to see artists feeling comfortable with putting as much of themselves as they do into their music.

In case you haven’t read last week’s blog, there is a list of potential discussion topics that I’ve picked out of Dr. Ortiz’s book. Since we already used stress, this is the updated list:

  • Anger
  • Pain
  • Sleeplessness
  • Relaxation
  • Grief and Loss
  • Growth and Change
  • Companionship
  • Relationship Issues
  • Letting Go
  • Clearing the Mind

This week’s discussion will be one of these topics. If you want to attend the meeting, as usual I’ll have my email address at the bottom of the post.

See you soon


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