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Record producer, Ian Brennan, and his wife Marilena Delli, a photographer and documentary filmmaker, are on a quest for the unknown and unfamiliar. Their passion for discovering uniqueness in human stories and music has taken them to far-flung places around the world, from Malawi to record songs by prisoners, to rural Rwanda and Cambodia to give voice to genocide survivors.
Music to his Ears
For a music lover like Ian Brennan, hearing a good song is a rewarding adventure, even if it’s in a language he doesn’t understand. He believes it’s better for us, neurologically and sociologically, to listen to diverse music, which is not what is offered by the commercial music business.
“What we get with the recorded music is by nature repetition, hearing not only the same song, not only the same singer, but the same performance of the same song over and over and over again. But there is a lot more to the world than that.”
The greatest music, Brennan adds, comes from everyday life, from people’s traditions or just their own emotions.
“I think there is so much untapped potential, untapped creativity in the world that to hear from just a small sliver of people is kind of a disservice for everyone.”
Brennan began exploring that untapped potential about 10 years ago, when he accompanied his wife, who is half Italian, half Rwandan, and her mother, a genocide survivor, to Rwanda.
“My Mom lost all her family,” says Delli. “When we decided to go there, I was shooting a documentary called The Rwanda Mama, about my Mom’s return to Rwanda 30 years apart. She actually discovered that her best friend, who she thought died in the genocide in 1994, was alive and that was the reason why she decided to go back.”
During this trip, the couple had a chance to listen to a local artist, Adrien Kazigira, the lead singer of the Rwandan band, The Good Ones. Brennan went to his farm to record Kazigira’s songs.
“He’s one of the most gifted roots writers, folk writers, I think in any language in the world. But unfortunately, because he sings in Kinyarwanda and not in English, he’s not heard by many people as he probably should be,” Brennan says.
Together, they produced two albums and are working on the third. “Sara,” from the group’s first album, is one of Brennan’s most favorite songs. It’s a love song, he explains, that communicates a variety of complicated emotions. “It’s specifically about a woman who had contracted AIDS and was sent away by her lover and her family and spent the little money that she had to a witch doctor to try to cure herself. And it’s someone who truly loves and cares about her, trying to convince her not to leave, not to be banished.”
In Malawi, Brennan and Delli teamed up again, as they worked on different projects where he recorded the music and she photographed the artists.
“We did Malawi’s Mouse Boys, who have released three albums,” he says. “We also did the Zomba Prison Projects which were with the individuals from the maximum security prison in Malawi, whose first album was surprisingly nominated for a Grammy award, which was something that was deserved, but not expected.”
The couple prefers projects where they work with people who are not identified as musicians, or people who may not have ever sung in public or written songs before.
“That was true of the Zomba Prison Project,” Brennan says. “We worked with over a hundred individuals and produced two albums. Also in Tanzania, when we worked on the Tanzania Albinism Collective (Project). It’s incredible the music that can come forward from someone when they’re given the opportunity to be listened to, and to be heard.”
Different Languages, Similar Experiences
Though in different languages and with different melodies, Brennan says most of these songs convey similar feelings and experiences. Genocide survivors in Cambodia who survived the Khmer Rouge, for example, share some similar experiences with the individuals in Rwanda who survived the three genocides there.
He points to “Defeat the Giant,” by Cambodian artist Soun San, as an example. The song gives voice to genocide victims anywhere.
“Soun San was the master musician from Cambodia,” Brennan says. “He was injured during the Khmer Rouge, but survived. His voice is, I think, an important one and one that I think more people would want to hear. We had set up for him to come to the UK last summer to perform, but unfortunately, between the time he was invited and he got his passport and booked the flight, he fell ill and passed away a month or so before the event.”
For their next project, Brennan and Delli are heading to Pakistan.
“We also have a release coming from Ustad Saami from Karachi, who is a 75-year-old vocal master,” Brennan says. “He sings a lot of pre-Islamic music in Sanskrit, pre-Sanskrit and in Farsi. He’s a very, very gifted and very rare individual because the music that he sings no one else does or really even can.”
Delli is excited about these projects, not only because she loves traveling, but because she believes these projects can make the world a better place. “I just think music is a wonderful way to connect people all over the world and a wonderful instrument to touch people’s heart and overcome hatred and prejudice.”
Having such a calling while discovering the sounds of different cultures and meeting unique artists encourages the couple to keep searching the world for hidden music. VOA
When it comes to our day-to-day life, there are several things which help us enhance our day with every step. One such thing is music. It enhances, motivates and boosts certain aspects of our personality in ways that may not come into notice. There have been several researches on how music affects human brain. Studies show it helps us in recovery and healing, and also, encouraging us to be better if exposed to the right kind and fit.
From kids to elderly, music as a commodity, can be consumed by all. It is the universal language that is spoken by each and every being, from animals to humans to plants, each respond to it in their own ways. Suffice to say, we are united by music and the effect it has over us. Plants, for example, grow better when exposed to good music. Many songs are being composed specifically to enhance and boost their growth. Same is the case for humans. For humans, the right kind of music can boost good health, physically as well as mentally. You might have noticed how in gyms, upbeat music is played. That is to channel energy into everyone present. It adds to the workout. Several researches around the world have shown better physical output when exposed to appropriate music. Fast paced songs with upbeat nature channeled speed and the slower ones slowed downs the listeners, without them noticing. The sub-conscious effects of music are continuously being studied.
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Our heart starts beating according to the music we are listening to.Unsplash
Listening to upbeat or happy music also reduces stress and pressure from our minds. Many people become relaxed while listening to calming music. This is why calming sounds are used during a yoga session. Classical music seems to have the same calming and soothing effect. Furthermore, classical music has much more advantages over metal or techno music, it has proven to enhance learning and improve sleep in its listeners. A study was conducted in which participants were divided in groups where one group was exposed to classical music, another to metal and last one was supervised without any music. The group exposed to classical music showed healthier sleeping pattern than the rest.
Also Read: Undiscovered Music Trends For Indian Music
Several brands and outlets encash on different characteristics of music. Calm and soothing music is used in spas to help customer relax. It is a known fact that our heart starts beating according to the music we are listening to. So, music with faster beats will have our heart beating faster and the slow one will have calmer effect. This is why slow music channels calm. And the same fact has led to faster and upbeat music being played in food outlets. A study conducted in a farm, where people were invited to have food, where one half was exposed to slower music and for other fast-paced music was played. Not only did the group exposed to fast-music ate faster but also ate more than the group who ate in slower one. Next time you are in a food outlet or a restaurant observe the kind of music they are playing and the eating pattern.
Music can even be a facilitator of communication. We can sometimes convey our thoughts through the medium of a song. Sometimes someone’s words justify our inner feelings better than us. Or sometimes a song brings back certain memory or a place, and takes us to that certain moment. To say music is a time-machine would not be wrong. It is a dynamic blessing that can be used throughout our lives.
Key Words: Music, Calm, Soothing, Effects of Music
As more and more people are acknowledging the importance of their mental well-being, the wave of awareness the acknowledgment has brought is unprecedented. It may not have paved a clear path towards complete healing but it certainly has shown the way. The awareness is the key to heal. Healing begins only after the problem is identified. Similar to physical illness, the identification of the problem area is the first step. Even in case of a minor wound, when we go to the hospital the nurse first locates the wound. They, then, ask how we got hurt and identify the nature of the wound. Only then, they clean, put ointment and wrap it up if it needs wrapping and protection from air and dust. Sometimes, that protection is not needed. The wound heals out in the open. Same goes when it comes to healing of a mental trauma or illness. Sometimes, we confine in professionals or our loved ones, in order to let it out and process it openly. Sometimes, the trauma reduces with time. In any way, being aware and vigilant is the way to go.
Being knowledgeable about life in general, opens many channels for you. Being knowledgeable about yourself, opens gates inside you that lead to spiritual and general awareness about the concept of self. And the inner awareness is not necessarily internal, it can be seen from the outside as well. When we have positive energy from within it radiates physically as well. Have you encountered someone who’s spiritually awakened and aware? Do they stand out in the crowd? There are prominent examples of people who have made their mark in history, there is Swami Vivekanada, his awakening has revolutionised generations, one live example we can witness is The Dalai Lama.
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Healing is part of the spiritual journey.Unsplash
Also Read: Follow These Tips For a Better Mental Health
Awareness is the first step towards the staircase of spirituality. Healing is part of that journey. In our world, we go by our lives without paying much attention to causes of our actions. Every little thing we do, we do it for a reason. We might be suffering without being aware of it. There might be certain actions which are screaming those are trauma-response and not really us. But we go by our days, without paying heed to the fact that it really is the small actions that carry weightage in our lives. When we become attentive and thoughtful with what we do, we introspect, and then act. Thoughtless actions do not bear much fruit anyway. Thoughtfulness not only benefits us personally, but makes world a better place to live in. It really is the need of the hour to introspect every little doing and if it does not fit with the idea of self, then, it is time to find the root cause of what has us where we are.
Being self-aware is crucial as a human quality as well. When we face our problems, we gain experience, that experience leads us to understand and empathise with others’ sufferings too. It is a wholesome development.
Key Words: Self-awareness, Spirituality, Thoughtfulness, Mental Health
Honestly, who hasn’t watched one of the epic series of HBO– Game of Thrones?
There’s no question that when the first episode of Game of Thrones was released on April 11, 2011, the youth population of the world became exuberant. The main reasons behind this reaction was, first, the theme of the show, and second, the hidden lessons which it put forward.
Some of the valuable lessons which the Game of Thrones taught us are:
1. The pack always survives. This aptly meant that whether your pack consists of your family or your friends, you are the strongest when you are surrounded by a support system. This is what Ned Stark taught his children, to be together when “the winter comes”.
2. Never forget who you truly are. One of the most important lessons was given by Tyrion Lannister. He taught us that we should never forget who we really are. This means that we must not forget our bad habits and where we lack. So, once we know who we are, no one could ever use our lagging points against us.
3. Reading is necessary. Tyrion Lannister said, “A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone.” There is absolutely no denying that reading is not a habit now-a-days, but a necessity. If you want to be sharp and smart, then you must devote sometime to books, for they would teach you a lot!
4. Always pay your debts. Well, one of the most philosophical and learned houses if Game of Thrones is House Lannister. And so, one of the sayings of their house is, “A Lannister always pays his debts.” From here we get another life lesson that we must always pay off what we owe from people.
5. Always believe, “You know nothing.” Ygritte said this to Jon Snow in a teasing manner. But, this is actually for all those who believe that they know each and everything. Well, never believe that you know everything. Always learn from new experiences and never hesitate to take advice from others.
So, these were five most significant lessons which the series Game of Thrones offered us. In reality, we all are aware of these lessons, but we never really work upon them. But now, let’s try to understand each lesson and become the heir someday!
Keywords: Entertainment, Game of Thrones, HBO, Series, Youth, Lessons.