You are on page 1of 9


Annapurna Ravel
Music 458
July 16, 2014
Celtic Rebuilding:
A Nationwide Form of Music Therapy
While a society's culture is often the strongest bond that directs daily life, it is also a
delicate infrastructure consisting of a careful balance of ideas flowing in and out. In a world
dominated by massive countries with histories of forceful and successful colonization that seek
to impose their own cultures, it is rare to find small nations that have persisted against these odds
and held fast to their roots. Despite being a country submitted to constant persecution for
centuries by various authorities, Ireland has not only maintained a distinct tradition but is also
known for its resilient optimism. While it's difficult, oppressive past may seem at odds with the
way we think of modern Ireland, the Gaelic Revival can be seen throughout the 20th century as a
driving force in bringing about the changes that shape our perceptions today. At first look, the
Gaelic Revival seems to have simply resurrected the vanishing Gaelic culture by means of
emphasizing the appreciation and the practicing of its traditions. However with closer
observation, the musical aspects of the Gaelic Revival's success can be attributed to Ireland's rich
tradition of oral transmission and its allowance for a massive scale of music therapy. This
phenomena is essential in emphasizing the integral interaction between society, music, and
morale. Through the study of how music is processed in the brain, the mechanism of oral
memory, and modern techniques and biological mechanisms of music therapy, an explanation of

In order to fully understand and appreciate the macro effects of music therapy that were applied to the Irish population. These waves then reach the cochlea where a Fourier transformation occurs. 2003). This structure assesses the aural level and tempo of the sound and serves as the first site of convergence for the input from both ears and allows us to experience sound uniformly (Moore. Sometimes thought of as the “switchboard of the brain. 2000). 1875). translating the time equation of the waves into frequencies that are spread along an inner fluid membrane and converted to electrical signals by hair follicles (Wagenaar). Continuing its journey upwards into higher-functioning regions of the brain. This bottom-top cognitive processing of music and sound and the widespread areas of the brain involved becomes essential in understanding the mechanisms of various types of music therapy.” the thalamus finally relays the information to the auditory cortex where it can be further processed for detail and stored within memory in order to be perceived as a connected and comprehensive phenomena (Demanez. This uniform sound then moves upwards in the brain to the inferior colliculus where the sound is localized and the source recognized. 2003). As sound first enters the ear and resonates against the eardrum. These electrical signals are then sent to a small structure in the within the brain-stem known as the superior olivary nucleus. the sound waves are transmitted from the outer to the inner ear during which they are amplified to a magnitude 22 times more powerful than their initial intensity (Pritchard.2 Ireland's resilience and revival is brought to light. the sound is further processed within a centralized relay center known as the medial geniculate nucleus between the inferior colliculus and the thalamaus for more detailed pitch and intensity (Demanez. one must first be familiar with the basics of auditory perception within the singular human mind. .

As previously discussed. The specific regions that grey matter increase was observed was in the following areas: somatosensory cortex. and other areas of functioning also increase. physical change through chronic use. 2010). the brain processes music globally through a hierarchy of data transmission. functioning. A well-known researcher of music cognition known as Dr. with increased amount of grey matter being directly proportional to the skill level of the musician. and inferior temporal gyrus (Gaser & Shlaug. In a study inspired by a YouTube video of a cockatoo dancing to a Backstreet Boys song . Michael Thaut once said. “The brain that engages in music. general motor skills. the filler regions of the brain that contain capillaries and cell bodies and serve as storage space for memories (Kholb & Whishaw. premotor cortex. and quality of life through the use of musical experiences. This increase in capillaries is accompanied by an increase in grey matter. a phenomena that can create substantial. and neuroendocrinological (America Music Therapy Association). more capillaries are built around these regions in order to provide extra oxygen to the neurons that are constantly firing. This method is defined as helping to improve facets of health. anterior superior parietal areas. The three major types of music therapy utilized in the Gaelic rebuilding are as follows: neurological. is changed by engaging in music” (Dreifus. Musicians were found to have increased grey matter. primary motor cortex. music therapy is continually being broadened and developed into various modes that target specific needs. as opposed to processing it within a single and localized region. 2003).3 A modern branch of therapeutic psychology. When the brain observes pathways being used frequently. The significance of these events arises when it is observed that functioning such as language. social. 2003). His words perfectly outline the philosophy behind the neurological model of music therapy. The way this occurs is through the firing of neurons to transmit this information.

Similarly.” “love hormone. Previously thought to be specific to sexual interactions and childbirth. group music sessions were recently shown to cause an increase in Oxytocin levels in each of the participants. 2009). 2009). The neuroendocrinological model of music therapy ties into the social model as it concerns the reduction of stress and therefore overall increase in health. its strong importance in Celtic rebuilding will later be discussed. Oxytocin has been found to be an essential promoter in many behaviors including those surrounding social recognition. therefore a strengthening in one also leads to a concurrent strengthening in the other (Patel et al.. often called alliterative nicknames such as the “cuddle chemical. and community after participation (Grape et al. However. Equally important to the Gaelic music revival.. This phenomena provides the basis for the neurological model of music therapy. Musical experience overlaps with numerous areas of the brain. therefore indirectly promoting language functioning (Gill & Purves. the social model of music therapy is centered around the chemical Oxytocin. pair bonding. Produced by the hippocampus and released by the posterior pituitary gland. This chemical release is utilized in the social model of music therapy.4 (https://www. The activation of the . in this way other aspects of human functioning that are deeply set in the brain and otherwise inaccessible can also be improved via indirect strengthening. and the inhibition of anxiety (Lee et al. often in treatment for autistic patients who lack social skills and it was found that vocal learning causes activation of the centers for hearing and movement to overlap. 2003). 2009).youtube. Musicians within the studied group reported increased feelings of happiness. relaxation.. the activation in auditory regions also overlap with language centers of the brain.” and “hug hormone” for its unique properties.

dance. In addition. national level. blocked arteries. musical interventions such as the listening of soothing music have reported suppression of the HPA-axis and moderated stress reactivity. and lower levels of dopamine in the brain (Killer Stress. has also found evidence through trials that supports this hypothesis. music. while the biological mechanisms are still uncertain. PBS). Remarkably. the study of increased pain suppression and tolerance in response to musical intervention is also gaining ground. Here at the University of Oregon. this promotion of traditional culture was ultimately employed to renew the sense of Irish nationalism that had been dealt a brutal blow by both the famine and British imperialism (Focus: Traditional Irish Music. A prominent association within the Gaelic Revival movement. I believe that the Gaelic Revival used these methods on a massive. causing allostatic load due to overuse which leads to malfunctioning and damage. contributed greatly to the revival of Irish tradition and interact strongly with the previously . While these forms of music therapy have only been employed at a clinical level.5 Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis leads to the output of cortisol. Competitions and festivals were hosted to promote traditional culture and create an “Ireland for Irish people. Its chronic activation can lead to subsequent chronic activation of the immune and cardiovascular systems. and language. the Gaelic League sought to revitalize Gaelic culture through the promotion of traditional poetry. 2013). the lab I am a part of. the Social Psychoneuroendocrinology Lab (SPEL). though publishable results are not yet available.” Facing the post-famine era in Irish history. therefore leading to healthier immune and cardiovascular systems (Chanda & Levitin. The mass gatherings centered around music in a tradition where communal over solo playing was encouraged. pg. 69). This damage can result in ulcers. literature. the most well-known of stress hormones in today's society.

the suppression of the HPA-axis due to musical experiences may have had a salutary effect on individuals' cardiovascular and immune systems. These cognitive changes may have influenced the greater sense of nationalism and membership of traditional Irish culture that was the intended goal of these events. In alignment with the neuroendocrinological model of music therapy. 161-162). While culture is an immense. these events centered around a shared musical experience correlate strongly with the philosophy of musical therapy that uses group musicianship to activate the release of Oxytocin in the brain. The widespread musical movement that was a facet of the cultural resuscitation may have produced a type of healing effect on the Irish population. an attribute that serves as an advantage in the treatment of those with speech disabilities as it strengthens the mind's ability for language acquisition as well as memory. In the case of the Gaelic revival. Additionally. As seen in the neurological form of music therapy. language is an essential foundation upon which it rests as it allows for civilized and complex human connection. post-famine Ireland in which to accomplish its goals. but the effects of music may have begun the healing process. The plausible increased release of Oxytocin at music festivals and competitions during the Gaelic revival period may have directly induced feelings of social bonding and promoted a sense of community. the strong presence of an oral music tradition . Poor health in Ireland was rampant due to the famine's toll. One of the most celebrated movements of the Gaelic revival was the emphasis placed upon the revival of Gaelic.6 discussed methods of music therapy. the language itself (Focus: Traditional Irish Music. through oral learning the centers for music greatly overlapped with the centers for language. multifaceted manifestation. in a physical sense. On a social level. pg. it was mentioned earlier that the Gaelic revival faced the context of a beaten.

communal musicianship would be relatively unnecessary and the full potential of the music would have been lost. This method of musicality enforces a group environment for traditional music playing. the therapeutic effects of Oxytocin as well as the strengthening of language centers in response to oral/aural music traditions were felt as well. likely hindering progress towards a revitalized national Irish identity. or for some. Had the notation-centered art form of music been present. the other forms presented were made possibly due to the existing tradition of oral transmission in the Irish music culture. . With the exception of the neuroendocrinological model for music therapy and its application to the Gaelic revival.7 would have simultaneously strengthened the brain's ability to learn. the Gaelic revival may partially owe its success to the therapeutic effects of music that aided revitalization efforts. the traditional language of Gaelic. perhaps its strong roots in musicality helped it hold fast to its culture and persevere through unrelenting persecution. In this way. While Ireland's past of oppression is bleak. recall. whether informally or formally through competitions and festivals. Ultimately.

Iversen. The New York Times. Dale Purves. Kamraan Z. Micah R. and W. Dreifus.12 (2009): e8144. Christina. Demanez. Jean K. "Anatomophysiology of the central auditory nervous system: basic concepts. Print. Print. "The neurochemistry of music. and Edward Vul. Aniruddh D. Grape." Acta Otorhinolaryngol Belgica 4 (2003): 227-36. Claudia. Jerome Pagani. PATEL. John R. Christian. and L Demanez." Trends in Cognitive Sciences 17. Scott Young. Print. 2003. Bryan.. and Daniel J." Fundamentals of human neuropsychology. Print. Web." Microscopy Research and Technique 51.html>. <http://www. "Organization of the human superior olivary complex. Gill. "Organization of the Nervous System.8 Works Cited Chanda. Lee. Mats Ericson. Levitin. Moore." The New York Times. Mona Lisa. and Irena Schulz. Print.4 (2013): 179-193.. Bregman.6 (2001): 1168. 5 ed.. Macbeth. 15 July 2014. and Gottfried Shlaug.nytimes. Abbe H. Print. New York: Freeman. Patel. Print." NeuroImage 13. Lars-Olof Hansson." Progress in Neurobiology 88. "A Biological Rationale For Musical Scales. Heon-Jin. 31 May 2010. "Oxytocin: The Great Facilitator Of Life. and Ian Q. "A CONVERSATION WITH ANIRUDDH D." Integrative Physiological & Behavioral Science 38. JP. and Töres Theorell.4 (2000): 403-412. "Brain Structures Differ Between Musicians And Nonmusician. Kolb.1 (2002): 65-74. 49. Gaser.2 (2009): 127-51." PLoS ONE 4. "Does singing promote well-being?: An empirical study of professional and amateur singers during a singing lesson. Whishaw. Maria Sandgren. "Experimental .

"The Organ of Corti in Mammals. Douglas J. N. "Fourier Transform Introduction. Print. Print. Pritchard. . Wagenaar.9 Evidence for Synchronization to a Musical Beat in a Nonhuman Animal..html>.med. 14 July 2014. Stress.d. Film.164-170 (1875): 345-352." Current Biology 19.." Fourier Transform Introduction. U. Web.. Perf. Linda Goldman. Robert Sapolsky. National Geographic. .10 (2009): 880.p.harvard." Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Dir. n. 2008. <http://www.