Ipods In Mediation? More On The Power Of Music

From Stephanie West Allen’s blog on Neuroscience and conflict resolution.

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In my ongoing research into the use of music in mediation (see past posts here), I am frequently reminded of the power of music to shift our moods and thoughts, and change our behaviors. It is because of that power that I believe music could be a helpful mediation tool.

This year I learned that solders use motivational music. Jonathan Pieslak has written about that use in Sound Targets: American Soldiers and Music in the Iraq War. From the recent article "How the iPod became a tool of war" (Guardian):

What's interesting about the work is not so much which bands soldiers are drawn to, but the extraordinary terms they use to describe the power the music has over them. Some talk about tracks turning them into monsters, making them inhuman so they can do inhuman acts.

… The psychological effect the music has, and highly stressful situations, make for a powerful mix.

There's some fascinating psychology and ethics in this, but also questions for neuroscientists. How does the combination of the group, a stressful situation, and very specific tracks, or types of music, combine to produce such a powerful motivational, even transformative effect?

What does this tell us about people listening to this kind of music in their daily lives as civilians?

At the Guardian, you can hear some of Pieslak's tapes and listen to an interview of him. At idealawg, you can read more about Pieslak's work.

As I have mentioned before, the use of music in mediation is tricky because a piece of music may have different effects on different people. Its effect is not universal. Read the quote from neuroscientist Dr. Robert Zatorre about this matter in a previous post Use music in mediation? Still no answer since one note, tone, or tune does not fit all. A very compelling question with an elusive answer. But there is an answer, one I am determined to find.

                        author

Stephanie West Allen

Stephanie West Allen, JD, practiced law in California for several years, held offices in local bar associations, and wrote chapters for California Continuing Education of the Bar. While in CA, Stephanie completed several five-day mediation training programs with the Center for Mediation in Law, as well as a two-year intensive… MORE >

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