By James Kennaway
Song has been used as a healing for illness considering way back to King David's lyre, however the thought that it would be a significant explanation for psychological and actual disorder was once infrequent till the past due eighteenth century. at the moment, physicians began to argue that over the top tune, or the inaccurate type of song, may over-stimulate a susceptible frightened process, resulting in disease, immorality or even dying. because then there were successive waves of ethical panics approximately intended epidemics of musical anxiety, attributable to every little thing from Wagner to jazz and rock 'n' roll. It was once this scientific and significant debate that supplied the psychiatric rhetoric of "degenerate song" that used to be the reason for the persecution of musicians in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. by means of the Nineteen Fifties, the focal point of clinical anxiousness approximately track shifted to the concept that "musical brainwashing" and "subliminal messages" may well pressure the nerves and result in brain keep an eye on, psychological affliction and suicide. extra lately, the superiority of sonic guns and using tune in torture within the so-called warfare on Terror have either made the topic of song that's undesirable for the future health worryingly topical. This publication outlines and explains the improvement of this concept of pathological song from the Enlightenment until eventually the current day, offering an unique contribution to the historical past of medication, track and the physique.
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Additional info for Bad Vibrations. The History of the Idea of Music as a Cause of Disease
487–745, here p. 493. 31 John Fothergill, Rules for the Preservation of Health (London, 1762), p. 57, James Mackenzie, The History of Health, and the Art of Preserving It (Edinburgh, 1760), p. 380. , Letters to Ladies, on the Preservation of Health and Beauty (London, 1770), p. 165; Francis de Valangin, A Treatise on Diet, or the Management of Human Life (London, 1768), pp. 253–4; Brocklesby, Reflections on Antient and Modern Musick, p. 11. D. Tissot, De l’influence des passions de l’âme dans les maladies et des moyens d’en corriger les mauvais effets, cited in Karl-Heinz Polter, Musik als Heilmittel (Düsseldorf, 1934), p.
Again, women were most at risk, as a widespread gynaecological and psychiatric debate about the dangers of music made clear. In the context of Morel’s theory of degeneration, music could be a symptom as well as a cause of nervousness, and Wagner himself became the subject of a moral-medical critique as a ‘degenerate composer’. The neurasthenia diagnosis and the emerging psychiatric discourse on homosexuality were also incorporated into discussion of nervous music. The sexologist Krafft-Ebing, for instance, recorded three cases of homosexuals who linked their same-sex feelings to the music of Wagner.
11–17. The Brunoniad was a mock epic about John Brown and his contemporaries by William Heald, a Yorkshireman who would graduate from St Catherine’s College, Cambridge in 1790. It describes, amongst other things, a bar brawl at Dunn’s Hotel in New Town; ‘Julius Juniper’, The Brunoniad: An Heroic Poem in Six Cantos (London, 1789), p. 62. ‘ ’Twas hence, great Bruno, thy untutor’d mind / Left the dull load of matter behind;/ Led to inebriate at the rosy spring, / Thy dauntless genius stretch’d its ample wing.