Ecstasy of Music

The effects of music on humans are perceived differently depending on the individual but one thing is certain: music will remain of heavenly origins. Music unravels the faint memories and relaxes the soul, reaches to the core of the heart and transcends the mind to an indescribable ecstasy.

In his book entitled “The Psychology of the Art”, Henri Delacroix makes reference among other things to music and its effect on people, or rather explains what different people say music does to them. They refer chiefly to classical music, to symphonies in general.

Delacroix says that Diderot in his “Letter about the Deaf and the Dumb” describes in a very precise and refined manner, about certain intense, violent and deep feelings that music may arouse in some of its listeners. Diderot claims that in music, the pleasure of the sensation depends on a certain peculiar disposition not only of the human ear, but also of the entire nervous system.

According to Diderot, there are certain people in whom the fibers may oscillate with such intensity, vigor and vitality because of their encounter with musical harmonies, that they may feel as if they were dying of pleasure.
Diderot poses some rhetorical questions regarding the intense way in which music can touch the human soul, as compared to other forms of art. It’s quite unusual for such an imprecise and arbitrary means of artistic expression to have such strong impact on people’s state of mind and spirit.

In this respect, Diderot rhetorically assumes that the explanation for this phenomenon would be that music does not actually present objects, it deals with sounds, and therefore it allows people’s imagination to manifest more freely and openly. Or perhaps because we need to be shaken up a little bit in order to be impressed, music has a stronger impact than painting or poetry.

Mrs. Camille Mauclair, the author of “The Religion of Music”, gives a more precise description of this kind of ecstasy caused by the impact of music on our minds and souls. The effect of music on people is referred to by Delacroix as a sort of delirium of the infinity, as a kind of charming, depersonalizing experience that causes us to forget about our mundane, day-to-day life and take a plunge in the musical realm, somewhere outside ourselves.

Mrs. Mauclair says that the quality of the sound can both drive someone crazy in a positive way, and calm down the spirit. She says that to the spiritual love for good quality music, she also adds some sort of violent, nervous drunkenness that feeds on sounds as if they were alcohol.

Some consider that the impact of music on its listeners can be viewed from a different perspective. Instead of the violent, passionate pleasure which some claim to feel when listening to certain musical pieces, others refer to the fact that the very intensity of spiritual passions can raise the human mind to a kind of serene insensitivity, to a certain high level balance which is above and beyond any feelings of joy or sorrow.

The state of spiritual ecstasy is a kind of neutral state of mind. The ecstatic state of mind of those utterly impressed by the beauty of a musical piece can suppress both joy and sorrow in a sort of neutralized perception.

The emotional rhythm or tone of a certain musical bit can actually bring someone to a real day-dreaming kind of mood. This can be accompanied by the mind’s association of the sounds with certain visual images, created of course by the power of one’s imagination. Although they may not follow a certain logical or chronological order, such images can present themselves under the form of certain landscapes, or something like pictures.

The listener can thus remember certain things from his past, or can dream about the present or his future. This is what music can actually do to one’s mind. Such ideas are usually typical of those belonging to Romanticism. Romantics considered music to be the supreme art, which was able to touch the very essence of things. Delacroix says that such people may interpret the exuberance and magic of music as a sort of fusion with the absolute, or as a sort of disappearance in the absolute.

The famous French writer named Stendhal said that in order for us to live the illusions of the music, we must forget to be reasonable. Being reasonable and enjoying music are two things that ought to be taken separately.