"The imagining of music, even in relatively nonmusical people, tends to be remarkably faithful not only to the tune and feeling of the original but its pitch and tempo. Underlying this is the extraordinary tenacity of musical memory, so that much of what is heard during one’s early years may be ‘engraved’ on the brain for the rest of one’s life."
– Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain
As a follow-up to a blog I posted two days ago titled "Music and the Doctrine of Ethos," I have embedded two film clips below that show how powerfully the memory of music is imprinted in our minds.
The first clip shows an old man named Henry reacting to music from his past. Henry is an Alzheimer’s patient who has spent over ten years in a nursing home. He is depressed and normally unresponsive when people speak to him. He comes alive, however, when listening to music. As seen in the film, music has the power to liberate Henry's memories more than any other form of therapy.
The clip I have embedded comes from Alive Inside, a documentary about the power of music and the social worker who uses it to help patients with dementia and Alzheimer's.
Man in Nursing Home Reacts to Music
“[Music] gives me the feeling of love, romance! … The Lord came to me and he made me a holy man, so he gave me these sounds.” – Henry
The second film clip comes from ABC’s Nightline and shows U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords finding her voice through music. In January 2011, Giffords was shot in an assassination attempt. Although the bullet passed through her head, she has recovered some of her ability to walk, speak, read, and write. She owes her life and partial recovery to many talented doctors and physical therapists. I have embedded this clip to show how music therapy was a large part of her recovery.
Gabby Giffords Finds Her Voice Through Music
2500 years ago the Greeks believed that the right kind of music had the power to heal the sick and shape personal character in positive ways. In modern times the doctrine of ethos seems to have modern science on its side.
© 2012 James L. Smith