Wellness Wednesday – Music Therapy

Music therapy, as its name suggests, is the use of music for therapeutic benefit. The modern application of this healing modality is more formalized with training in music therapy and the use of trained therapists, but the idea has been around for some time.

On a visit to a museum in Damascus Syria, I came across a display detailing the “…mystical power of music...” Two instruments at the heart of this healing are the oud and qanun.

Museum in Damascus Photo by Kimberley (c)2010

Museum in Damascus
Photo by Kimberley (c)2010

Photo by Kimberley (c)2010

Photo by Kimberley (c)2010


The oud is a stringed instrument with bulging body that predates the European lute and Spanish guitar. The qanun is also a stringed instrument, is held in the lap and plucked. It resembles a dulcimer. According to the text, the oud was made with different coloured strings to reflect the four humours*, a popular concept in the medicine of ancient times. It was also said to have been used as medical treatment along with proper diet and environment in Islamic hospitals.

*blood, phlegm, yellow bile, black bile

The qanun has been represented in Ottoman paintings showing circumcision ceremonies. Its sound was said to help alleviate pain.

The qanun Photo by Kimberley (c)2010

The qanun
Photo by Kimberley (c)2010

The sound, rhythm and patterns of music were said to elicit a healing response in the body. It can uplift your spirits, soothe the soul and ease unpleasant emotions. A mind that is calm can also have a beneficial effect on the immune system.

People often listen to certain types of music when they are feeling sad, stressed or sick. For all around feel-good music I like Bob Marley and for melancholy moods Loreena McKennitt and Enya do the trick. I do also like to explore the different musical stylings of the countries in which I travel.

What’s on your playlist when you go abroad?

Canadian Association for Music Therapy
Mechanism Behind Mind-body Connection Discovered on Science Daily
Mind-body research movement moves towards the mainstream on US National Library of Medicine


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