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).
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 present 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
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.
Then 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
Then 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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- Leading Countries in Terms of Music Product Sales Revenue Worldwide in 2016. www.statista.com/statistics/498225/music-product-revenue-by-country/.
- Curt Sachs. The History of Musical Instruments. Dover Publications, Inc, 2006.
- “Native American Music and Culture: The Seminole Tribe.” FSU World Music Online, Wikidot, 22 Apr. 2011, fsuworldmusiconline.wikidot.com/kendang.
- How Many Musical Instruments Are There in the World?, 7 Apr. 2012, www.howmanyarethere.net/how-many-musical-instruments-are-there-in-the-world/.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.