Shiva Rea: why the soundtrack is important to your life

Ebb and flow with Shiva Rea at Wanderlust 108 London on July 31st in Battersea Park. Click here to reserve your ticket today.

I don’t think there is such a thing as background music.

All the music in your life should be consciously integrated. This is the core of raga, a concept of Indian classical music: the idea that there is a mood, a quality of morning or noon or sunset that is emphasized with the right music. You can learn to be sensitive to the effects of music and to consciously use Sonic Nutrition in all areas of your life. (Listen: Saharan Sunset Radio)

First of all, be aware of the music that you are only tolerating. Instead, give yourself what you know you totally love and increase your experience. Musical vibration is not just a subtle force that does not affect the tangible; it has incredible untapped potential to improve our lives.

In Africa, for example, I learned that there is no audience when it comes to music. Everyone is a participant. I studied funerals in Ghana, and grief is an acoustic process because the sound helps move that heaviness and let go of sadness. Then on the other side, the roar of a football stadium: Everything is chanting that this collective power is given to the one who stands on the square of life. (Listen: Essential West African Sounds Radio)

As another example, I did development work in central Kenya and tried to build water catchers. I was so frustrated because everything was going in circles. Then I became a member of this women’s dance group – and learned that without this special ritual of music and movement, nothing of significance for the community would happen. Development agencies focused on developing the end product and missed the importance of musical rituals as a stage design.

In my everyday life, when I have to wake up to an alarm clock, I use music that offers a slow and peaceful rhythm to be born. I have a variety of acoustic music that makes creative writing easier. I’m a mother, so for everyday life – cooking, folding – music that is stimulating but always has a constant, even rhythm is very helpful. But then I do some super jamming tribal house or electronic music and dance to the full for 5 or 10 minutes. It’s better than anything else. Some people like espresso, but I just shake it out and I’m done. (Listen: Downtempo Soundscapes Radio / Global Cafe Radio / Today’s EDM House Hits Radio)

We must never forget that we are rhythmic beings: our heartbeat, our breath, the cell pulse – that is our inner rhythmic universe. Music has incredible power because it attunes us not only to ourselves, but also to our community and life.

So let’s not just be tolerant of background music. Let’s really inspire us. I hope that as the world becomes more tuned into music, it will be more consciously integrated into schools, hospitals, airports … and that we will sharpen our awareness in this way.


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