I would imagine (as I’m not exactly sure) that whatever ideal state of universal contentedness people are supposed find in church is what fans found at the Tampa Santana show. It was the epitome of the experience you seek every time you go to a concert – a release into a chill, happy, perfect energy.
The first thing that strikes you, but of course, is the soothingly intense rhythm section. It immediately taps you into the beautiful latin soul of the universe. This amazing group of musicians meld together to create magic – from rhythm to keyboards to horns to maracas to tambourines to both subtle and powerful vocals to, of course, the guitars. The band appears to enjoy what they give, and perhaps reap from it, as much as the crowd. A synergistic, synchronistic, and surprisingly (but not really), serendipitous evening.
The song flow was fabulous (see setlist.fm). Carlos delivered a tone-setting string of beautiful words, spiritually positive, the heartfelt soul of hippie, trippy (whatever form), peace and love. They eased in then jammed it out with Total Destruction of the Mind off the new Isley Brothers & Santana album Power of Peace (which I am currently thoroughly enjoying on Apple Music), and the crowd slowly but surely fell under the spell – by Black Magic Woman and Oye Como Va they were all in. Then Mona Lisa…perhaps the most beautiful song performance I’ve ever experienced (big statement). And right into Corazon Espinado, a much beloved song of mine. The two main vocalists were both harmonizing angels and power-belting soloists. It’s actually amazing that any instrument or vocal can shine over that trio of percussive brilliance, but they all do in amazing ways. If I sound like I’m harping, I am. It wasn’t just me – it was obvious that everyone really, really enjoyed the show.
Despite the drastic changes in the world since the 1967 Summer of Love sensation that Santana embodies, the parallels continue – particularly those vital pockets of musical positivity in the midst of universal chaos. How does that happen, that stadium pocketful of a mass change in perception?
According to a fascinating Psychology Today article entitled The Neuroscience of Music, Mindset, and Motivation, psychologists have studied the wide range of neurobiological systems involved in listening to music and have found that music can have a “dramatic effect” on how we perceive the world (I hear a chorus of “duhs” but it’s cool when science backs this stuff up). The studies suggest that moods, including music-induced moods – in addition to our experiences and what we know – affect our expectations that contribute to our reality.
The author, an athlete who uses music as a training tool, explains how music can enter our consciousness with both top-down and bottom-up neurological processing. Top-down processing involves taking in information and consciously processing it with what we know about the world, as well as what we are feeling at that moment in time – with the result being our reality. On the other hand, bottom-up processing involves intentionally tapping up into a “trap door” to your nervous system and consciousness by doing what we all already do – picking music to fit our mood and create our own, different reality, or as the author calls it, a “parallel universe.”
…all music is a powerful tool you can use to alter your perceptions at a neural level. – Christopher Bergland
Essentially, neuroscientists have confirmed what we all seemed to already know – that we can “dial into” a specific neural response, or state-of-mind, with music.
I’m going to have to conclude that there was a lot of spontaneous top-down processing, as well as a good amount of intended bottom-up processing, going on at the Santana show. Either way, the positive emotions inherently entered, somehow, someway, into the collective conscious. But I can’t end this post here because I found another fascinating parallel to this discussion:
Before the show I ran across a Tampa Bay Times interview with Carlos Santana in which he is quoted as eloquently saying: “I want to remind people that your life is significant and meaningful, and no matter what gets in front of you, you have the capacity to create miracles and blessings. So roll up your sleeves and share your light and share your love. It’s not complicated!” In the same article he also says: “We play music that is extremely and supremely spiritual and sensual, and we help people, we invite people, to validate your horniness — but do it with honor and grace and respect.”
Now stay with me here (!) as I tie together neural processing, the capacity to create miracles and blessings, and validating your horniness…
Interestingly, the same Psychology Today article goes on to discuss how neuroscientists have found that “humans and songbirds are the only creatures that automatically feel the beat of a song,” and that birds use their songs in breeding and maintaining relationships. In fact, studies have shown that the same reward system in the amygdala that is activated in birdsong in birds is the same one activated in human brains when they listen to music they like.
So what does this all mean? It seems to mean that evolutionarily speaking, our brains are made to use music to regulate, to propagate (both biologically and psychologically), to create our world. Our perceptions create our reality. We have the capacity to alter even the darkest of the collective perception with music, light, and love. You already likely concede music’s effect on your emotions, understand how athletes use it as a tool for performance excellence, and now you know that songbirds (your evolutionary ancestors) use it to propagate their species. So go ahead and see if you can “roll up your sleeves” and use, practice, intend, and expect music to perceive more happiness into both your life and the entire world. Carlos Santana preaches it, and science backs it up ;o).
A few quick videos…it was hard to pick up a camera for long:
Bergland, C. (2012, December). The neuroscience of music, mindset, and motivation. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201212/the-neuroscience-music-mindset-and-motivation
Cridlin, J. (2017, October 27). Share your love. Tampa Bay Times. P.2B.
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