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CD Insert Notes for Elixir: Music for Moving and Still Meditation

For thousands of years, Chinese have believed that music has healing properties. Indeed, the Chinese character for music

chinese character for music

is the major part of the ancient Chinese character for medicine.

chinese character for medicine

Also, the Chinese character for happiness and music is one and the same!

The relation between music and health is explained by the "Five Elements" theory. Ancient Chinese philosophy believed that the universe consists of five fundamental elements (fire, earth, metal, water, and wood). Man has five pairs of yin/yang internal organs (heart/small intestine, which are fire, spleen/stomach, which are earth, lungs/large intestine, which are metal, kidney/bladder, which are water, and liver/gall bladder, which are wood), and five basic emotions (joy, compassion, grief, fear, and anger). The five elements, and their various representations in body and mind, rely on each other through a cycle of mutual control and promotion. Similarly, Chinese music has five basic tones (the pentatonic scale), which also correspond to the five elements. Since all of the fundamental elements come from a single, universal energy source, the harmonious composition of music can interact with and restore the mind and body to a balanced state.

The combination of five elements theory and yin/yang duality is at the heart of traditional Chinese philosophy and medical theory. Yin and yang are opposite manifestations of the same forces in nature - the dynamic interaction of yin and yang underlies the relation and changing nature of all things, and the balance of yin and yang is necessary for good health.

Elixir is unique recording, composed and performed in its entirety by a master traditional Chinese musician and longtime practitioner of qigong meditation. Initially recorded for use in an intervention study at the University of Illinois investigating the health benefits of Taijiquan exercise, all songs are largely improvised compositions based on the traditional Chinese pentatonic scale. The music was designed to lead the listener to a relaxed state of balance and serenity. Importantly, however, the songs are not static and similar in tone and content, but are varied in tempo and melody. The music was designed to be an aid in a daily health maintenance regimen, and good health (as well as enjoyable music!) requires movement and stillness, yin and yang. Some of the tunes were designed for moving qigong exercises, such as the slow and graceful movements of Taijiquan, and others are accompaniments for the stillness of standing or sitting meditation.

Well, that's one basic conceptual framework describing the relation between music and health and a backdrop for the recording. Ultimately, however, words don't matter in the least - direct experience does! Relax, enjoy, and experience for yourself the healing properties of music.

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