Music and Soulmaking: Toward a New Theory of Music Therapy

Article excerpt

Crowe, B. J. (2004). Music and Soulmaking: Toward a new theory of music therapy. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. 456 pages. ISBN: 0-8108-5143-1.

Music and Soulmaking makes an eloquent, easy to read, and significant contribution to the contemporary state of fundamental, theoretical, and philosophical questions in music therapy: What is music? What is its function? How and why does it work in therapy? Towards its theory building intention, the book provides a broadly inclusive and unique synthesis of contemporary theoretical premises that are nested within the author's professional experience, scholarly research, and personal journey. Barbara Crowe provides the reader with an essential understanding of provocative, debatable, and highly complex theoretical constructs. Yet, she does so with critical insight, reflective commentary, and a well-thought out vision as she explores the implications and possibilities of a different vision of music therapy that "constitutes my life's work in music therapy" (p. vii).

The book is well arranged with extensive and understandable introductory material in the first three chapters that include appropriate diagrams and figures. The first chapter, "Music in Therapy and Healing" provides a broad overview and introduction to music therapy. The second chapter, "Complexity Science: A New Scientific Paradigm" introduces complexity science and briefly frames music therapy within that context. Complexity science is described as the study of real-world phenomenon as dynamically complex systems that unfold and enfold upon themselves and thus are non-linear, unpredictable, and not replicable. Subsections of the chapter discuss the characteristics of complexity science: "Deterministic Chaos," "Unpredictability," "Nonlinearity," "Sensitivity to Initial Conditions," "Wholeness," and Order and Form."

The third chapter, "Of Sound and Music" provides a concise yet, comprehensive review of the physical, psychological, and psychophysiological experience and the processing of sound and music. The chapter includes discussion and reflections on the implications and applications of complexity science to the existing knowledge base, and prepares the reader for the following chapters.

The next four chapters are organized in what the author acknowledges may be contrary to the interrelated nature of complexity science, but nonetheless facilitates the presentation of the material: Chapter 4, "Music Therapy and Problems of Brain and Mind;" Chapter 5, "Music Therapy and Problems of the Body;" Chapter 6, "Music Therapy and Problems of Emotion and Feeling;" and Chapter 7, "Music Therapy and Problems of Spirit." These chapters provide the theoretical framework for the concluding chapter, "Toward a New Theory of Music and Healing." A 59-page "Bibliography" effectively supports the text. The "Index" is concise and efficient, and thus provides ready reference to specific information.

Chapter 4, "Music Therapy and Problems of Brain and Mind" provides a broad overview of neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, brain development, brain functioning, the electromagnetic field generation of brain processes, and a discussion of brain function as a dynamic, nonlinear event. Crowe introduces early cognitive skill development in preparation for her discussion of higher brain functions: thinking and reasoning, behavior, motivation, learning, memory, intelligence, creativity, imagery, language and speech, and consciousness. She further examines each topic as it relates to music and music therapy.

In Chapter 5, "Music Therapy and Problems of the Body" the author provides the reader with an overview of theoretical discussions related to human anatomy and physiology, and vibration to consider DNA and human cells, brain chemistry, rhythm and entrainment, and motor rehabilitation. The chapter then moves into a discussion of the "Nonlinear Dynamics of Health and Disease" and the notion of the human body as an energetic system. …