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Strong Experiences with MusicMusic is much more than just music$
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Alf Gabrielsson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199695225

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199695225.001.0001

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Music as therapy

Music as therapy

(p.209) Chapter 17 Music as therapy
Strong Experiences with Music

Alf Gabrielsson

Oxford University Press

In several earlier accounts, there have been glimpses of how strong experiences with music can have a therapeutic effect. It is, however, difficult to determine where the border might be said to run between generally positive effects on well-being and health, and a ‘genuinely’ therapeutic effect — it is a question of definitions and of various considerations. This chapter presents a number of examples of experiences which the narrators themselves have described as decisive moments during a critical condition, something that came to be a turning point in a positive direction. Some narrators also use the word ‘therapy’ in their description of the experience. While therapy as a rule assumes the participation of a therapist — and this is true in different kinds of so-called music therapy too — there is no such therapist in these accounts. It is the music itself that is the active agent, the ‘therapist’. The music, so to speak, intervenes in the course of events and turns a negative state towards a positive direction. The accounts have been grouped into two sections. The first concerns the alleviation of physical pain; the second the alleviation of problems such as stress, uneasiness, anxiety, or depression.

Keywords:   strong experiences with music, pain relief, stress, anxiety, depression, music therapy, turning point

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