The power of music



Album cover for “Last Lap Around the Planet” by Goaat Head and Beaar Box

As the melody hits my ears, and the rhythm moves the body, the everyday problems begin to disintegrate and all the emotions start to flood in. Since the beginning of humanity, music has always been there for humans as an escape from the environment around them. 

The earliest documented piece of written music, the Hurrian Hymn, was discovered by the Mozan/Urkesh Archaeological Project, and was written on a tablet found at Ugarit, and dating to the 13th century B.C.

Music was used for multiple purposes throughout ancient civilizations. Emily Brown, an archeologist who studied 1,300 ancient musical instruments used by the Ancestral Puebloans, has found through ritual, music supported social and political power.

One  important thing that music helps with is mental health.

It stopped me from committing self harm in the past. Ever since I picked up my first instrument, the guitar, music has helped me immensely with dealing with my own mental health. It saved my life.

Particularly during the pandemic, music has been more helpful for me. I recently released a new album with Goaat Head called Last Lap Around the Planet. The process of making the album with my best friend was crucial for me. 

Prior to making the album, the isolation of the pandemic was making me depressed. Music, and the making of that album was  ecstasy. 

I started  making the beats in August of 2020. I made a beat almost everyday for roughly seven months, and kept them  in one file on my hard drive.

After every beat, I felt amazing and clear headed, and happier. As I like to put it, I let the spirit take over and my problems dissolve. 

The actual recording process with Goaat Head started in March. When the pandemic moved, both our classes online, he  moved up to Chico for four months, living on my couch. In those four months, we assembled nine songs, and had an experience I’ll never forget.

“In terms of my mental health and stability, making music is amazing.” said Goaat Head.  

“After the album was done, I felt a sense of pride that I still cherish. I have come to respect myself more as an artist, and in turn, I have also come to respect myself more as a person.’’

The pandemic made a lot of people turn to music. Sweetwater, a retailer of music instruments and pro audio gear, announced the company served over 1.5 million unique customers with musical equipment purchases in 2020.

Will Friedman, a recording arts student at Chico State has used music for his own mental health, saying “The aspect of playing music is very meditative. It’s a nice de-stresser that makes you forget you had any problems in the first place and listening to an album I like can instantly improve my overall mood.”

An observation at a Norwegian mental health hospital, where interviews with 11 participants in a music and theater workshop, showed the participants experienced small, positive everyday moments that added value and gave them strength to transform these positive moments to “meaning-making” far beyond arts.

From playing an instrument, to making beats on your computer, to playing live or just jamming with friends — music can improve your day.

Mario Ortiz can be reached at [email protected] and @realnameismario on Twitter