Music resonates deep within my soul. Sounds vibrate to my innermost being. I have been involved with music all of my life. While I played at the piano, I play the French horn and have done so for over 40 years. I love the horn. I love the timbre of it, the mellowness, and the way it resonates deep within me. I have not mastered it the way Dennis Brain, Philip Farkas, and Barry Tuckwell have, but I do enjoy playing the horn, and listening to horn music.
I have often wondered why I enjoy horn music so much. Why does it resonate so much with me? Why do some types of music go to the core of my very being? And why do some pieces of music sound just OK? Why do some concerts send my soul into blissful splendor, giving my body peace and a sense of completion? And why do some concerts just leave me feeling uneasy and empty?
When I was at university, I started out as a music major. They gave me money to go to school with. I played in the orchestra, brass choir, horn quartet, and marching band. Marching band was not my choice but a requirement for those on scholarship. I loved the orchestra and classical music pieces that we played. And I loved even more the brass choir. To this day, I am not sure if it was the music that I enjoyed in brass choir, or all that testosterone, as I was often the only female in the room. My favorite group of all, however, was Horn Quartet. One of the most rewarding concerts I ever played in was when we went to the Eugene School of the Deaf. The children couldn’t “hear” the music, but they could feel the vibrations. And, they could “hear” when we were out of tune. We deliberately started out of tune that day as we tuned up. All the children put their hands to their ears, squeeling at the dissonance, or “beat” that the out-of-tune notes made. As we got more into tune, they calmed down. We played several pieces for the children, the names of which I have forgotten, since that wasn’t the important part of the concert. If we hit a note that was even the slightest out of tune, they would hold their ears and cry out. After we finished the last piece, the children were invited to come up and put their hands on the bell of our horns while we played several notes. They could feel the frequency vibrations in the different notes. Why wasn’t I as in tune with the resonating frequencies as these deaf children were? These children, while deaf, had such a great appreciation for music that goes beyond what many musicians have. While they couldn’t hear one note, they could feel the frequencies of each note, and the blend of frequencies that resonated within them.
Another great moment in music that I really love, and there have been many of them, is when a piece of music is forever implanted in my mind in combination with a certain activity or place. “Stars and Stripes Forever”, by John Philip Sousa, is the first time I remember this occurring. When my high school band went to Europe, “Bands to Britain”, we played this piece at the end of each of the 22 concerts. The piccolo players stood during their solo. Then the trumpet and trombone players would stand and walk to the front of the stage during the grand finale, as the music slowed and broadened, grandioso in style. This brought every audience to their feet in applause every time. Mr. John was a great band director, and I will always associate “Stars and Stripes Forever” with traveling through Europe.
In 1985, I was living and working in Nepal. June 1st, they opened the Nepal-Tibet border for the first time. Some friends and I formed a tour group, and crossed the border June 4th. At the end of our three-day tour, we told the tour guide that we enjoyed our trip so much, that we wanted to see more of Tibet. So we rented the Mitsubishi mini-bus, and traveled onward, with the Chinese tour guide, until we got to Shigatse, where we left the minibus and guide, and traveled on our own. As we crossed the mountains, there were numerous high passes, each dropping only slightly before climbing again. But the first time after crossing the Himalayas when we actually dropped down onto the Tibetan plateau, the beauty before us mesmerized us. The barley was just coming up, so there was this brilliant green in the fields with the contrasting brown dryness in the hills, and George Winston’s “December” tape was playing “Carol of the Bells”. I will forever remember that breathtaking scene when I hear “Carol of the Bells”, and the feeling of perfect peace and harmony as that scenery and music blended through the spheres.
Willie Ruff is a jazz musician. He plays other music as well, and he is the first person I have ever heard to play jazz French Horn. And he is great! One time I heard him play live jazz French Horn in a concert in Portland, Oregon. It was incredible. One of the things I remember most, besides playing music outside of the box, is that in one piece, he played his horn directing the bell right into the strings of the grand piano. It was amazing! He set off reverberations and chords as different strings resonated individually with his music. He had an entire orchestra right there with him playing solo French horn. The New York Times has called his jazz music “satisfyingly unusual”. I also have a tape of Willie Ruff playing Gregorian Chants on the French horn inside of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice, Italy. He got permission one night to go in and play. He took in a simple mono tape recorder, and stood in center of the cathedral, and played his horn. He played with perfect pitch, and was able to record resonance, tones and overtones, as his music resounded and reverberated within the cathedral. His music speaks to the depths of my being, the depth of my soul.
Over the past few years, I have often thought of the music that has resonated so much within me, and curious as to why some music sends me soaring and other music leaves me empty. Some concerts leave me with a sense of fulfillment and completion, while others leave me incomplete, lacking certain qualities to feel fulfilled. Since I am in the field of health care, I am interested in total and complete healing of our bodies, whether the problems are physical, spiritual or emotional, so I find this very interesting. I have recently been studying how different sounds and notes resonate within our bodies. We have seven major energy centers within our bodies. Eastern thought calls these energy centers “chakras”, and each energy center relates to a different color, has a different emotion related to it, and vibrates to a different note. Pure white light, when separated by a prism, separates into the seven colors of a rainbow. The seven energy centers of the body vibrate harmoniously with each of the seven color frequencies of the rainbow. A different emotion, or part of our being, is associated with each energy center: 1 - physical body and earthly grounding, 2 – sexuality, emotion and reproduction, 3 – inner strength, will and self-confidence, 4 – relationships with yourself and others, love and compassion, 5 – communication, creativity of expression and impulse, 6 – imagination, intuition/ clarity of though and dreams, 7 – pure awareness/consciousness, and understanding. And while each energy center vibrates to a different note, and the octave of music with that note, there seem to be different opinions as to which notes correspond to each chakra.
There are many web sites devoted entirely to this study, and wanting to sell you their music to open these chakras or energy centers. In the music for sale, each piece is set in the note of the chakra with the mood and emotion of the chakra matched with carefully selected instruments to produce the exact ambience. The entire set of music, which targets all of the chakras, will help heal and energize. But when it comes down to it, all we have to do is listen to our own body, and try to feel the sound vibration moving through it. Our bodies are filled with different rhythms, of each organ and system working in harmony within themselves, and working in unison with each other. Music and rhythm are life itself. It is how our bodies function. The notes or pitches can be experienced through listening to a piece of music in the appropriate key, played on a musical instrument, or simply sung or hummed by you.
The general consensus is that if there are any energy blockages in the chakras, applying the correct light frequency, and music frequency, can be very beneficial in clearing and restoring the area to proper functioning, influencing the entire body and psyche. Your energy system can be stabilized, and it serves as preventative medicine, as each cell in your body has the capacity to respond to any sound and to resonate. This gives the sense of healing, wholeness, and completion.
I find it interesting how it is “seven” of everything. This is a perfect prime number. Throughout the Bible, seven is repeated as the number of perfection and completion. It took seven days to create the earth (six to create, and one to rest and enjoy creation), and there are the seven churches, the seven trumpets, and the seven Seals of Revelation (Rev. 15), and many other references to “seven” in between. So we utilize the seven colors of the rainbow, the seven chakras (first through seventh), and the seven parts of our being to create the sense of wholeness and completion in us, the harmony and balance in our being. Maybe it is that striving for completion of what God has created within me, that desire to seek Him and all His wisdom, that need for wholeness that only He can provide that horn music tries to fulfill. If living in a fallen world creates that emptiness, that lack of vibration or blockage in one of my energy centers, maybe, just maybe, He uses music (and in my case, the French horn) to help fill, complete and restore that which is missing. Only He knows for sure. Only He can fill the void and give me the wholeness that I crave and desire.
Maybe this is why the French horn has such a powerful effect on me. Maybe it opens a particular energy center that is blocked. Maybe its frequencies help my body to function better. Whatever the reason, it helps create that sense of completion and wholeness. It creates a sense of beauty, perfection, harmony, and order within me. The French horn resonates deep within my soul.