Most of the people I met in Stroud were musical in some way (given the many choirs, they had to be really!) but staying with Allison it was really a part of life, a way to be thankful and aware. Both Allison and her friend Jane sing in choirs, before our mealtimes they sang a prayer, and Jane was kind enough to teach me songs for walking, morning, evening and friendship. An interesting historical point which came up in conversation was that our western music as we hear it today is different in feel than it was before industrialisation. Historically musical instruments were tuned to a particular key, which was composed of the overtones within a note, but with modern instruments we compromise so that we don’t have to retune for songs in different keys. As a result, some of the notes are a little ‘out’ and don’t resonate nicely with each other. The other aspect which I had not realised, is that the note ‘A’ today is not the same as the ‘A’ from the 1800’s. Originally our instruments were tuned based on an A resonating at 432 Hz, but as musical audiences became bigger the instruments needed to be louder and so they were retuned to a higher tension at 440Hz.
Humans are very subtly yet strongly effected by resonance and frequencies, which is part of our love of music. Many people believe that music tuned to 432 Hz is more beneficial with a variety of websites promoting the psychological and spiritual benefits of using the traditional tuning. (Erm, as an aside, the two other ‘bees’ on the walk today have just started humming a resonance to each other and hugging. They didn’t know I was writing this.)
Jane recently bought a sounding bowl which was made from a Sycamore tree at Hawkwood College. The instrument was made in Devon and is tuned to traditional tuning and is a delight to play – beautifully carved, smooth, relaxing and contemplative, almost meditative. Jane kindly played a brief tune for me.
Communities that are strong and emotionally healthy are better equipped to deal with an uncertain future and if music be the food of love, play on!