Have you ever heard an orchestra with Western and Chinese instruments playing together? Have you ever wondered what joining together the best of Eastern and Western music might sound like?
Western classical music is very grand, magnificent, and inspiring, while ancient Chinese music is like a stream of cool water carrying you into a different state, evoking a feeling of serenity and peace.
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That’s the power of music. Music has always been one of my favorite ways to escape difficult moments. Even if it’s only temporary, it’s enough to change my state.
Cueing up the right playlist can help create a calm and uplifting environment in your home environment. It’s something I not only do frequently myself, but something I regularly suggest to the patients that I work with.
But while I knew music was beneficial, I’d never really looked into what type of music works best to soothe and uplift us. Today, I’ll share some of this fascinating information in the latest in my video series, Health by Nature.
Since first learning about the field of neuroscience at university more than 11 years ago, it has remained one of my favorite subjects. At that time, it was considered a relatively new scientific field, and was exploding with research on how brain cells can adapt, change, make new connections, and rewire pathways, a process known as neuroplasticity.
I especially loved digging into studies showing how music can relieve pain, enhance learning, and improve sleep. By activating certain regions of the brain, music helps enhance mood, memory, and concentration. Given all the great benefits, and the enormous challenges in the world today, this information is more relevant than ever.
Many ancient healing systems believed that music had the ability to heal the body, soothing the heart and mind. But not just any type of music – it had to be a special type of music, a type that resonated with the essence of a person’s being.
The ancient Chinese understood this very well, and believed that music was a gift from the divine with a unique ability to heal. In fact, the traditional Chinese character for the word “medicine” (藥 yào) is created from two characters joined together: the top character means herb or plant, and the underlying character has two meanings, joy or delight, and music. Therefore, music made up the very foundation of ancient Chinese medicine.
So, just what is this special kind of music that can help relieve pain and decrease stress hormones? It’s none other than classical music!
Now don’t get me wrong, I love uplifting beats that get me singing along, but classical music has unique properties that other types of music don’t have. For example, lyrical music is more left-brain focused and actually makes your brain multi-task, while classical music activates the right side of the brain and is strictly soothing and harmonious for your brain.
Some studies have even found that classical music, especially live classical music, can provide added benefits in relieving pain. This is great news, given that most places around the world are once again open for live performances.
I have to say, in my experience, there is one stand-out performance that embodies all of these harmonious health aspects—and you may have heard of it—Shen Yun.
The New York-based company is made up of seven troupes of very talented performers who circle the globe, bringing audiences a whole new show every year. The show takes you on a magical journey, weaving a beautiful tapestry of colorful costumes, an interactive digital background, traditional Chinese dance depicting stories of heavenly realms, ancient legends, and modern heroic tales with — you guessed it — a live symphony orchestra.
An orchestra with Eastern and Western instruments
But not just any orchestra. The Shen Yun symphony is the only orchestra in the world that joins together the two worlds of East and West. This unique orchestra incorporates ancient Chinese instruments, like the two-stringed erhu. Though it has few strings, the erhu produces a rich variety of sounds that touch a person’s heart and soul. It transports you to a different world, carrying you into battle, lifting you up to heavenly realms, or taking you on a journey of love and loss — it can even replicate the sound of the human voice. Combined with other Chinese and Western instruments, the Shen Yun symphony orchestra produces a sound like nothing else you’ve ever heard.
The last time I saw Shen Yun, I felt like I’d been whisked away to an ancient time and place. I came away feeling so relaxed, peaceful, and full of hope again — something we could all use a little more of in the world today!
So I highly recommend you check out ShenYun.com to see when it will be near you. There’s no better example of the positive effects music has on your health and spirit. It’s also the only production where you can experience this unique orchestra.