“Music directly imitates the passions or states of the soul…when one listens to music that imitates a certain passion, he becomes imbued with the same passion; and if over a long time he habitually listens to music that rouses ignoble passions, his whole character will be shaped to an ignoble form.”- Aristotle
The intention of this short article is to link the subtle yet almost tangible relationship between music and homeopathy. The definition of music is: ‘‘Vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion’ (Oxford English Dictionary). Thus, similarities in terms used by both arts are analysed and justified according to homeopathic dictates.
As a classical homeopath and a lover of music, I have always been fascinated by the ability of both to penetrate the mind and soul and subsequently affect the entire body. A correctly selected remedy, according to the first universal law of homeopathy “similia similibus curentur,” works initially on the characteristic mental and emotional symptoms. Hahnemann states: ‘Therefore one will never cure according to nature-that is, homoeopathically-unless one considers the mental and emotional changes..’ (Hahnemann, S: 2003:152) Aphorism 213. Similarly, music has the ability to affect and encourage change in moods and temperaments. If the remedy is as close as possible to the similimum, it can bring the body into a state of equilibrium. Likewise, we have all experienced the power of music to lift our spirits and deeply resonate with us.
There are many musical terms used in the Organon that justify and exemplify this relationship. ‘In the state of health the spirit like vital force (dynamis) animating the material organism reigns in supreme sovereignty. It maintains the sensations and activities of all the parts of the living organism in a harmony that obliges wonderment. (Hahnemann, S, 2003:14), Aphorism 9.
Hahnemann refers to the ‘pathological untunement’ of the vital force ‘The physician has only to eliminate the totality of symptoms in order to remove simultaneously the inner alteration, the pathological untunement of the vital principle, thereby entirely removing and annihilating the disease itself’(Hahnemann, S, 2003:21), Aphorism 21, suggesting harmony needs to be restored to the organism to achieve a perfect balance. There are many other references to musical terms, which further serves to demonstrate this wondrous undeniable link, not least the mainstay of homeopathic prescribing; the search for keynotes in a patients. This ultimately leads to finding the simillimum and prescription of the correct remedy, thereby balancing the pathological untunement, restoring harmony and equilibrium to the body. The musical definition of ‘keynote’ is: ‘the first and harmonically fundamental tone of a scale’. (Merriam Webster Dictionary.)
To further clarify this relationship, Kent recognised that “just as there are octaves of musical tones, so there are octaves in the simple substance, through which severally it is possible to correspond with the various planes of the interior organism of the animal cells. These planes correspond to the similar remedy in 30th, 200th, 1M 10M 50M, CM, DM, and MM potencies. He found that when the action of the 30th is completed the patient needs the 200th potency, but when the action of 200th potency is exhausted, the patient requires the 1M potency; and so on till the same remedy in higher and highest potencies cures permanently.’ (Kent, JT: Lesser Writings, cited by Seror, R)
Music is seen here as vibration by Kent, similar to when a remedy is succused. By doing so, the potency, energy and vibration are increased. The molecules in a remedy are never static. Both music and homeopathy have the ability to activate the vital force through stimulation of our inherent energy fields, tuning us into a frequency that resonates with our healthy constitution. This is all part of ‘The Doctrine of Series of Degrees’ introduced by Kent for the treatment of chronic disease; where the potency of a remedy was raised to effect cure, should the lower potency have failed to ‘vibrate and resonate’ at the correct level to ensure curative action. The musical term ‘Octave’ is defined as follows:‘A series of eight notes occupying the interval between (and including) two notes, one having twice or half the frequency of vibration of the other.’(Oxford English Dictionary). By comparing potency to octaves, we are able to imagine an almost visual and certainly audible understanding of the proposed resonance of varying potencies as they change by degree to gently encourage harmony.
The relationship between homeopathy and music has been taken a step further by Dr. Rajan Sankaran who has applied homeopathic principles to music. Sankaran recognised that music had an unquestionable effect on the body as a whole and was keen to explore and expand upon the healing mechanism so many of us have experienced. Hindustani classical music has a system of notes called ‘Raga’ in the minor and major scale. Many different pieces of music can be composed within each raga. Every raga is unique and is invariably played at an appropriate time to evoke a series of emotions. Sankaran saw the parallel between music and its intention and homeopathic remedies, where each remedy, unique in its essence has a specific mental and emotional profile. In short, several different Ragas were played to audiences throughout the world, their feelings were noted and documented. The result was astounding in that the majority of ‘provers’ experienced the same emotions for specific pieces of music.
‘The music provings teach us that the situational Materia Medica and the mental pictures we get of our remedies are nothing but the application of the basic idea which is common to mind and body, and can be correlated to the original source, the substance from which the remedy is prepared.’ (Sankaran,R :2005:300)
Often, in practice, the Raga’s correspond to particular remedies, (generally the polychrests) and are used in conjunction with these remedies, where the mental and emotional picture resonates. Clearly there is a lot more research to be undertaken in this field but the initial findings are fascinating. Sankaran states: ‘I feel I have a scientific basis for healing with music although I have not used it on a large scale in treating patients. To do this, we must know the specific effects of various ragas, especially the more common ones (which are like our polychrests.) I feel that when the patient is made to listen to a raga on the basis of proving symptoms, it will heal according to the homeopathic law.’ (Sankaran, R: 2005: 310)
It is clear with this brief account of the relationship between homeopathy and music that there are many parallels and similarities, seen not least in the application of similar vocabulary, with words such as ‘harmony’, ‘tuning’, keynotes and octaves appearing frequently and relevantly throughout homeopathic academic literature. Here are two great arts, both having fundamental classical roots. The definition of ‘classical is as follows: ‘‘representing an exemplary standard within a traditional and long-established form or style.’ The origin is late 16th century (in the sense ‘outstanding of its kind’): from Latin, classicus ‘belonging to a class’. (Oxford English Dictionary.)
I can confidently assert that both classical homeopathy and classical music are indeed worthy of this description, therefore it is of no surprise to see an established and irrefutable link, which has been strongly validated.
Hahnemann, S (2003) The Organon of Medicine, London: Orion (New translation Kunzli, Naude and Pendleton)
Kent, JT, Lesser Writings,43- Series in degree, presented by Dr Robert Seror [online] available at :http://homeoint.org/books3/kentwrit/writ43.htm
Sankaran, R (2005b) The Substance of Homeopathy, India: Homeopathic Medical Publishers