Musical Instruments: Helping Us Checking In with Our Inner Being

Love

With six different categories and about 300 different types of instruments in each category, it is easy to see that instrument ownership is as valued today as in earlier times (discussed further down this page). Unlike our primitive past though, luck, charms, ritual or communication do not explain the billions of dollars spent on instruments in our modern world. Globally, we continue our appreciation of the instrument. But what is now holding our attention to it when the practical reasons have basically vanished.

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Need To Belong

Research by the University of Colorado’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience looked into the relativity of humans to music and concluded that we have a need to belong, and music satisfies that need (Loersch 9). Also, a research by Binghamton University’s Department of Biological Sciences shows that participation in music to the point of clapping, drumming, dancing and so on, is evidence of heightened endorphin release in our brains (Dunbar). Love

We are already familiar with the assertion that endorphins are released in the brain when we participate in music, and more so when we are creating it. As well, we can agree that we feel connected with other individuals through music such as in a marching band, singing the national anthem, and so on.

But, when someone is alone for hours of the week or month, playing an instrument, how are they feeling like they belong when they are actually alone. We have heard self-taught individuals who through obsessive attention to the instrument, without pressure from school or parents or any external force, learned to play. What sense of belonging did they experience as they studied alone?

Our Physical Beauty vs Inner Beauty

A published lecture titled, The Nature of Music and the Experience of Tone, from the Rudolf Steiner Archive, examines the inner nature which he refers to as Devachan (or the astral realm) and compares it to the physical world of the individual. He states that in the physical world we feel other beings or people outside of us. That includes those time we combine music together and play music together with others. But, even alone, in our inner being its as though we are one with all (Steiner). We feel like we belong to something very inclusive of ourselves and all else which is very comforting. Keep in mind that music genre impacts your state of mind.

How Sleep Helps Our Music

The Lecture explains that when we sleep, we pick up on the energy that communicates sounds to our sentient (physical) body and etheric (inner) body. Some people have been known to cough up a piece of music or words to a song in minutes without having to change any of it. They are “musically creative or sensitive to music because these sounds are artpresent already in the sentient body. When we awake we sense the readiness from within as we interact with the musical instrument.

For some people, writing or the playing music during these times is very pleasant as they are feeling strong and is aware of strength or resource beyond their physical bodies. The mathematician Albert Einstein stated that “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” How do we abandon our way of thinking or even know what to change about it. Fall asleep. Einstein was said to have given up on a problem and went to sleep. He woke up in the middle of the night with the answer.

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Does Music Have A spiritual Dimension?

The artists in the video above recognize that their musical gifts come through them and not from them.

Are We Really From Another World

In his lecture, Steiner stated that when playing an instrument, our inner nature finds its highest expression or connection to the nonphysical part of ourselves and feels at home.  He concludes that this is why everyone is so deeply affected by music. Because each time we listen or play music we relate more with this inner world than with the physical and with all that we feel it’s a jubilant “Yes! I’m from another world.”

In our primitive existence, we used music for protection. Today we stick with it because it gives us a sense of belonging. More specifically, we have an inner being to which we connect which feels very much like home.

Musical Instruments from the Beginning To Now

Throughout this website we have presented the guitar in its many aspects –  versatility, style, appearance, playing style and more. While it is still top of the list for its many appealing characteristics in the western world, it is one of the hundreds, when looking at all musical instruments in the world.

How Many Musical Instruments Worldwide

The world contains over 1500 different musical instruments, according to HowManyAreThere website.  I would list them but why list all musical instruments when Wikipedia provides them here. This list focuses on instruments in play today and not, for instance, the first flute discovered. As well, not included in this discussion of music are the slapping of hands to chest and other areas of the body, clapping and other means of representing the idea of sound, which came much earlier than the first flute. Such does show though, that since human beginnings, there is no satiation of the need for music. 

Why The Need to Create Musical Instruments

Currently, manufacturers like Gibson Brands Inc, second largest company in the world (behind Yamaha), continue to sell musical instruments contributing to the United States being the largest seller. Japan has the largest revenue. Statistics may not be readily available for other countries around the world. The people in some African countries, for instance, are close to the material (wood, gourds, animal horns and skins) they use to create handmade instruments as opposed to having them mass produced by manufacturers. Their quantity cannot be measured by sales and revenues. Yet, they may have more instruments than advanced countries. Suffice it to say, it doesn’t matter which part of the world we come from. Humans connect to music very strongly. What could be the reason behind this need to connect to music?

Early Musical Instruments for Protection

Instrument Early Tucano IndiansInstrument Seminole Tribe

What caused humans to create music and to still make it part of our lives. We used instruments for protection. One example is pieces of strung coconut chips worn on the female leg (The Seminole Tribe) for dancing or worn on other areas of the body for warding off evil spirits (Sachs 2006). Similar use of rattling instruments such as these types and those with the chips, pebbles,  enclosed in a hand-held basket weave rattler or gourd called calabash were used in other parts of the world.

The gourds, not seen here, were generally used in shamanic rituals. Other instruments not discussed here were used as fertility charms and still others for magic. Numerous variations existed across the globe.

How Is This a Drum? It’s Also a Hut.

Instrument slit drum hutsInstrument slit drumThen came the drums which don’t look anything like the drums of today. They were in some cases hallowed tree trunks large enough for the men to step inside for a stomping dance routine and then doubled as a hut. Later the stomping was done away with and sticks were used beat the hollowed out interior of the tree trunk. The portable version of the slip tree trunk was used as a “talisman luck for victory” (Sachs 36).

Later drums became smaller with the design ever changing, sometimes shifting to clay, then consistently with skin covering held taut over the drum opening by a hoop or frame for making sounds. In other parts of the world, cylindrical items were excavated looking like kitchen pots and a correlation inferred that the drums evolved from the idea of the pots.

Communicating with Women

Instrument - grassThen came the ribbon reed instruments. It was made with blades of grass and blowing into it emitted a shrill high sound. This was how initiated boys told the women to stay away. Having looked at a few of the countless number of early instruments we see they all had a particular use for the sound they made. It was either for protection or communication.

The above describes how humbly music started out in comparison to the plethora of instruments we have today. Initially, we depended on musical instruments to protects us. Today we recognize the instruments in enabling connection with our inner being. Clearly, our musical instruments will remain prominent in our lives. The benefits are too much to lose.

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  1. Leading Countries in Terms of Music Product Sales Revenue Worldwide in 2016. www.statista.com/statistics/498225/music-product-revenue-by-country/.
  2. Curt Sachs. The History of Musical Instruments. Dover Publications, Inc, 2006.
  3. “Native American Music and Culture: The Seminole Tribe.” FSU World Music Online, Wikidot, 22 Apr. 2011, fsuworldmusiconline.wikidot.com/kendang.
  4. How Many Musical Instruments Are There in the World?, 7 Apr. 2012, www.howmanyarethere.net/how-many-musical-instruments-are-there-in-the-world/.
  5. Chris Loersch, and Nathan L. Arbuckle. “Unraveling the Mystery of Music: Music as an Evolved Group Process.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 29 July 2013, pp. 1–24. ResearchGate, doi:10.1037/a0033691.
  6. Dunbar, Robin M, et al. “Performance of Music Elevates Pain Threshold and Positive Affect: Implications for the Evolutionary Function of Music.” Evolutionary Psychology : an International Journal of Evolutionary Approaches to Psychology and Behavior, vol. 10, no. 4, 2012, pp. 688–702.
  7. Steiner, Rudolf, and Alice Wulsin. “Lecture: Inner Nature of Music: Lecture I.” Rudolf Steiner Archive & E.Lib – About Rudolf Steiner, The E.Lib, Inc., 1 Jan. 1970, wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA283/English/AP1983/19061203p02.html.
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24 Comments

  1. I never knew there were so many types of instruments. I can’t remember the exact source I am afraid. however I remember watching a show about music that was discussing the different frequencies and how they each had different effects on the human body. It was believed that the Pyramids may have been built where and how they were because standing within them emits a certain healing frequency. I wonder if people noticed this effect and tried to emulate it by creating instruments.

    • Hey Maryann,

      There is a website document titled ‘THE FOUR FUNDAMENTAL FREQUENCIES
      OF UNIVERSAL OSCILLATION and their harmonic connection to the resonant tones
      of the Great Pyramid of Giza,’ Which discusses sounds in the pyramid if you are interested.
      But, if it is the case that individuals have found healing sounds in the pyramids, I can see how they’d like to replicate it.

  2. Hi Tina,

    Wow a very powerful and interesting blog post. I loved it! I love music too so that helps. really enjoyed watching the video. Music is really an energy that I love taping into. I meditate daily and can really go to that place of possibility and find things that help in my life.

    I have a guitar but haven’t played in more that 2 years. Your post has inspired me to do so again today! Thanks for a truly fascinating article 🙂 Sharing on my Get out of your comfort zone page on FB 🙂

    Kev

  3. Very interesting article! I do notice that when I spend days without listening to music, I feel uncomfortable. The moment I listen to some music, I feel better. I feel happier. So I totally agree with the section where you said music connects us to the non-physical part of us.

    Another interesting fact is that you said music was used to ward off evil. This is still practised today in Asia. The sound of firecrackers during Chinese New Year is believed to do that. Cultures in the region of Tibet and Bhutan use the sound of bells to ward away negative energies.

    Thank you.

  4. It’s crazy to think about how many instruments there are around the world. Music and the tools that produce it are a beautiful creation, and I am sure many, many more new inventions will just keep adding up to the list.

    Instruments play a huge role in society and they’re even part of a nation’s identity.

    We have been enjoying the art of music for centuries, and we will only continue to do so.

  5. Music has always played a big role in my life. Its good to know the history of musical instruments and their importance. Keep doing the good work of spreading this knowledge. Thanks for your article.

  6. A great lesson from psychology and history of music. I like the mention of how sleep helps our music! Our subconscious mind, our inner being is awake while our body sleeps. Many mornings I wake up and immediately I start to sing a song. Why? I don’t know. But it is a cool phenomenon for me. Also, I experienced the situation when I leave a problem and go to sleep. The first thing tomorrow I have a solution. That is why we say “It is better to sleep it over.” or something like that. Thanks for the read.

    Ivan

    • Hey Ivan,

      For sure, psychology, music, human emotions are inseparable. The good thing about it, as you said, when you wake up you have the solution. So you are singing or playing the solution. And the musical instrument or voice is a beautiful conduit from the inner to the outer. Sleep, psychology, effects music more than we are sometimes aware.

      Best,
      Terri
      denebguitars.com

  7. As a guitarist I was instantly drawn to the post. I can attest to many point made in that there is an existential component to our ability to create music. I’ve totally been inspired to create music from dreams and have even “heard” the music in my dream.

    This is a really cool post, befitting for Guitar or Guitar World. It is very creative and I can you have a deep passion for the guitar, music and creative process. This comes through in the design of your site as well.

    I can tell you’ve spent a lot of time and put in a lot of hard work into your creation and has given me a lot of good ideas for my own site.

    All in all this is awesome, inspiring and keep up the great work!

  8. Hi Terri, What an interesting and insightful post. It makes me sorry that I took up ballet instead of music. We were given the choice of music or dance, as children. However, music is very important to me and find that depending on my mood, various music comes to mind. The world would be so much poorer without music and people who develop new instruments for us to enjoy. Thank you

  9. I love the quote that you included. We can not solve our problems with the same thinking that was used to create them. I’m a big fan of trying to think and solve problems out of the box. Music can help with that.

  10. I love this article! Especially the components of connectedness, neurology, and sleep! We often forget how much music is an integral part of our lives until you point out some very great examples like the crowd singing the national anthem together! Music has such a beautiful way to bring people together, it makes you want to stop and appreciate it all the more!

  11. Hi Terri, many thanks for the informative article. I learned many things. You have inspired me to go and pick up a guitar again.
    Do you know much about ‘the music of the spheres?’ I have had many various ringing sensations in my head for over 20 years now, and was wondering how I can benefit from this music?
    Kind regards
    Andrew

    • Hey Andrew,

      I’m very glad you asked about the ‘music of the spheres’ (or the harmony of movement between the stars). I feel inspired by your question to explore the topic here on Deneb guitars.

      We are not separate from the celestial bodies in that we share the same universe and are definitely impacted in positive ways though unaware of specifically how. But just admiring the harmonious sound in the cosmos is a beautiful way of acknowledging the cohesiveness that music brings.

      Terri,
      denebguitars.com

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