International Symposium | HELP-MD: The Healing and Emotional Power of Music and Dance
20-21.05.2021 | online
Can we explain the power of music and dance to prevent and treat illness? Many individuals around the world, from the shamans of the Indonesian jungle to the music therapists in New York, use music and dance to enhance well-being and to prevent and treat illness, but the complex elements behind this phenomenon are still largely unexplained. On one side, cognitive scientists try to answer this question by investigating the impact of music on basic human faculties such as memory, emotions and physical abilities in people affected by different types of diseases (Alzheimer's, autism, etc.). On the other, ethnomusicologists, who focus on the cultural diversity of musical expressions, may offer an important contribution to this emerging field by describing how the relation among music, dance, and health is conceived in other cultural contexts and performance settings. The project "Healing and Emotional Power of Music and Dance (HELP-MD)" aims to develop an inter-cultural and inter-disciplinary comparison between musical healing practices, in order to determine the common elements among the various cultures. Moreover, the project's objective is to create a bridge between social and health sciences, to move forward from the current state of the research and offer new and unique insights.
We are particularly interested in:
- Analysing how in a given context music is used to cure, heal or prevent;
- Working on an inter-cultural comparison;
- Integrating methods and hypotheses of the cognitive and the health sciences.
The following questions are at the heart of the HELP-MD project:
- Can we find, in different musical and cultural contexts, similarities in the way musical activity, emotional behaviours, and healing practices are linked?
- How does musical practice relate with well-being, illness prevention and/or treatment?
- How do people engage with music and/or dance with the aim of changing their emotional and/or health condition?
- What type of symbolic associations are commonly linked to the emotional and healing power of music and dance?
- If music is widely associated with healing practices in many societies from around the world, could this be due to its potential to elicit and control emotions?
- How are bodily behaviours modified when people identify with a "sonic agent" (an intentional entity stably associated with a musical form)?
Organizers and scientific committee