Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The Medicine Cabinet #4

Music Is My Medicine
by Nayt Housman

Music is my medicine. Is it yours? I ask the public six golden questions to find out if and how they use music to feed the soul.

 'Ryan' by Nayt Housman

I came across a breezy young guy by the name of Ryan, living the gypsy life at the ripe old age of 22. I spotted him walking barefoot down the street carrying a huge backpack, with a guitar slung over each shoulder, long scruffy hair blowing in the breeze and I thought, “I have to see what makes this guy tick”.

Thinking of music as medicine:

Who flicks your on switch and turns up the volume?

Ryan: Have you heard of a guy named Devendra Banhart? Who else? Um, who else would I say? Bon Iver! You know like folky, interesting stuff and then at the same time I love a lot of old school funk and jazz, especially jazz, lots of jazz.

Why are they the pill that cures your ills?

Ryan: With Devendra Banhart it’s the carefree nature of the music, there’s no heavy context of care. It’s all just relaxed and easy, we’re all just having fun and anything you can dance to really, that you can move your feet and groove to, I’m into. Taking life too seriously is the worst thing humans can ever do and you can sit there and write all these meaningful songs about stuff or you can just be “HEY…” (shrugs and smiles) you know? Just be happy.

What kind of high does it give you?

Ryan: The highest kind of high I guess.

Nayt: Enlightenment?

Ryan: Yeah levels or fluctuations of enlightenment, to you know, sit on the street and I do a lot of busking and to have people appreciate it, it’s cool, it’s a bit of a buzz. You know we don’t do anything unless we get a buzz out of it in life I don’t think. Why do people smoke cigarettes, do drugs or go out and drink? Because they get a buzz out of it, it’s the same playing guitar; it’s the connection with something greater than yourself.

When do you find yourself craving musical relief?

Ryan: I don’t think there’s a time when I don’t. When I’ve had too much, when someone’s pissed me off, when I’ve had a bad day or when I’ve had a good day, just to submerse myself in music, it’s like meditation, get all of the things out of my mind that were there lingering, itching away, just shake them off with a few chords.

Where does music take you?

Ryan: Around Australia at the moment I guess. So at the moment it’s doing well. The last few years I’ve just been moving around playing music, don’t have a job, not on Centrelink, it’s solely my instruments and me, and my friends that I play with. I’m heading to Byron today. Only just stopped in (to Brisbane), I had this in at cash converters, this guitar, I was like, I’ve got to go and get it because it had like a week left, so I went and got it, now I’ve got to get out of this place. It’s too much! Too much traffic! 

How do you share your music love?

Ryan: PLAYING IT! Playing it on the street, playing it for people, if someone wants music I’ll give it to them. It’s been something I’ve learned, you’ve just got to share it, get it all out there, not be worried about it. Last time I was in Brisbane, would have been about three months ago I was on a radio station here with a couple of friends, one of the community radio stations…

Nayt: 4ZZZ?

Ryan: Yeah that’s it. That was cool, first time I’ve been on the radio so yeah it’s about just trying to push it out as much as you can, push the music. Walk down the street playing, play everywhere!

I’ve always wanted to be able to play an instrument and people like Ryan stir the musician within me. I’ve tried to learn guitar twice in my life and keyboard a few times, every time though the distraction of shiny and colourful things marred my desired results. I was always good at playing the recorder; maybe I should take that up again? The reason that I kept on and will continue trying to learn is because of the freedom I see expressed by musicians who exhibit skills as if their instrument is a mere extension of their body. I want that. The cathartic release of all emotions carried by the musical notes released by our manipulation of a tool that makes a noise.

I shall dub this the “Dude! I can see the music!” effect. It affects individuals differently depending on their current state and what is going on in their lives at the time or what they might be reflecting upon. It’s always good to share the experience with friends and sometimes, even strangers will be positively affected by your use of this therapy.

Doctor Nayt’s prescription for this week is to exercise. That’s right exercise the musician within at least once a week. Sometimes it’s hard to find at first but reach deep inside and you’ll feel a lump. Get a good hold and squeeze it until it releases a ‘LAAAAH’ or a ‘tap-tap stomp tap-tap’. Keep on doing it until you can form a beat or a melody and then if you get good enough mix them together. Never be discouraged, keep practising weekly and always remember…karaoke is for everyone.

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