Posts categorized “Music and Cultures”



Born on January 27, 1756, in Salzburg, Austria, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a musician capable of playing multiple instruments who started playing and composing at the age of 4. He was known as a prodigy, and unlike any other composer in musical history, he wrote in all the musical genres of his day. His music was written to accommodate the specific tastes of particular audiences, not always following the “proper” form or harmony of his generation.


Mozart spent many years traveling with his father, and later as a salaried professional at various prestigious organizations. Similar to modern day rock stars, he was often discontent with the confining environment of these positions.  Often he was required to compose and play certain types of music, which Mozart objected to but was obliged to observe. He had once mixed freely with noblemen, but now found himself placed at a table in the lodgings for the archbishop’s entourage, below the valets if above the cooks. Furthermore, he was refused permission to play at concerts (including one attended by the emperor at which Mozart could have earned half a year’s salary in an evening). He was resentful and insulted. Matters came to a head at an interview with Archbishop Colloredo, who, according to Mozart, used unecclesiastical language; Mozart requested his discharge, which was eventually granted at a stormy meeting.


After many ups and downs in his career, Mozart set about earning a living in Vienna. His main concern was to take on some pupils, to write music for publication, and to play in concerts (which in Vienna were more often in noblemen’s houses than in public).

At the time of his death Mozart was widely regarded not only as the greatest composer of the time but also as a bold and “difficult” one. He suffered from depression and several illnesses.

Mozart spent the last 10 years of his life in precarious independence in Vienna.




Who Was St. Patrick?

St. Patrick, known as the “Apostle of Ireland,” was an Irish patron saint, who actually started out in a pagan religion.  At some point in his life he was captured in Wales, Scotland, then taken to Ireland as a slave. He escaped, became a Christian, and went back to Ireland for mission work.
St. Patrick used the green three-leafed shamrock to illustrate the Holy Trinity. The wearing of the green and the shamrock are still a tradition for this Irish celebration.

Why Do We Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

In America, St. Patrick’s Day was first organized by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston in 1737.  It started as a feast and religious service, then later evolved into the festivities and parades that we know today. Many events feature Irish food, especially corned beef.

Ireland is One of the Most Musical Countries in the World

In Ireland you can’t walk three blocks anywhere without hearing music. St. Patrick’s Day has become an annual celebration of Irish culture. When it comes to music, nothing outside the legacy of black Americans matches the legacy of the Irish.  We love to hear Danny Boy any time of year.

Why Do We Pinch Those Who Don’t Wear Green?

It has nothing to do with Ireland, and Irish people think Americans are crazy for the pinching and the heavy celebrating. Some say it started in Boston in the early 1700’s. They believed that wearing green made you invisible to the Leprechauns, who pinched anyone they could see. The pinching reminds you to watch out for the Leprechauns. Some other speculations: Pinching gives you a bruise so you can have some green on you. You get pinched as a reminder to wear green. Do you have an idea why we pinch those who don’t wear green?

Have Fun on St. Patrick’s Day.

No matter what the reason for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, have fun and sing!





“Music is the universal language” has become a standard phrase, almost a cliché. A more fitting description may be, “Music is the universal energy or vibration.”  No matter what phrase we use, music can unite, crossing boundaries, cultures and countries. The same music can be recognized and enjoyed no matter what language someone speaks.  We may not love the same style, but music is the one passion we all seem to share.

Often musicians unite people worldwide with a musical concert to benefit a charitable cause or victims of a catastrophe. Even if the language isn’t understood, people share emotions, feelings, memories, joy or sadness. As the music reverberates through our bodies, the shared feelings allow us to know that we are not alone but are connected.

You can get a feeling for another culture or nation by listening to or participating in its music. Imagine the eerie sound of a wooden flute during a healing ceremony or drums during a dance performance in Africa. You might feel like you’re actually there! Music can connect us across continents. Like water, air and fire, music has no religion and is an international language.

We sometimes listen to, or make music with lyrics from a language other than our own—even if we don’t speak that language.  When the music is powerful and beautiful, it doesn’t matter. Opera is often sung in Italian. Chanting may be in Hebrew or in languages spoken in India.

We all seem to be aligned on a higher consciousness level with certain rhythms and melodies, even when they are based upon different scales and modes. Sound and vibration affect us, and certain music brings up similar emotions in everyone, no matter what language we speak.


Numbers Connect  Music  with Spiritual & Mystical Numbers

– There are 12 keys and 12 tones in music (counting the half-steps).

– There were 12 disciples of Christ.

– There were 12 tribes of Israel.

– There were 12 gates of New Jerusalem.

– There are 12 astrological signs.

– The pentatonic (5-note) scale was used in China because because of its link to the cycles and rhythms of the heavens.

Do We Use the phrase”Music of the Spheres”  Because Spheres of the Universe Touched?

The ancient Greeks believed that the “music of the spheres” was created when the spheres of the universe bumped into each other. This music was supposedly tied to the very structure of the universe.

The Christian hymn, “This is My Father’s World” says, “All nature sings and ’round me rings, the music of the spheres.”

Music Is a Form of Prayer

Music amplifies prayer, resonating and awakening your sense of God, Higher Power, Universal Mind, or whatever word feels right to you. Music has the power to connect us to our creator. The harmonies of beautiful music can make you aware of the beauty in the universe.

Whether it’s Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” or “Amazing Grace” or “Kum-ba-yah”, or modern Christian rock music, or chanting, music connects us with the spiritual world.

Let some harp music  awaken you spiritually.





Emotions are Brought Out Through Music for All Ages

All ages sing “Happy Birthday,” and experience connection and joy. As an adult, whether you’re a parent, grandparent aunt, uncle or friend, try listening to music with a child or teenager. You’ll be surprised how this creates a bond and leads to some interesting conversations.

Grandfather Makes Up Rap Songs for his Grandchildren

A good example of music connecting generations as well as cultures is Bhagwan Mirchandani, a father and grandfather who grew up in India.  Bhagwan noticed his children and grandhildren listening to rap music. They insisted it was great music, so he eventually decided to try listening to some of the rap music, choosing songs with positive clean language. He enjoyed this “teenagers” music, and began making up music himself from a conversation. His grandchildren were very happy to have such an open-minded grandfather!

Use Music for Multi-Generational Sharing

– Start playing and singing  music at an early age. Expose children to many kinds of music.
-Try listening to some music that you’re not used to hearing. You might like it! At least you’ll have an idea what kind of music the younger generation likes, and this will help you relate to them.
-Take your family to hear all kinds of music. You will have something in common and you will all learn to appreciate many varieties of music.

Music Crosses Age Barriers

Each generation has its preferences for music, all ages enjoy some of the same music. Brahm’s Lullaby is used for babies and young children, but many adults use it to cure insomnia. All of us can remember hearing certain songs from the “golden ages” of the 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, no matter what our age. When I play an old favorite on my harp in a retirement home, the eyes of those who know the song light up.
Find out more about the magic of music in my new book, Music, Healing and Harmony. The book is available at



Music Unites Across Cultures

Music can connect and unite, crossing all boundaries, cultures and countries – and maybe even planets. In the famous Spielberg movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” visitors from outer-space use music to communicate when they first meet Earth inhabitants. Listening to or performing the same music is a way of getting in sync with each other, no matter what language is spoken. Political and religious views can sometimes be set aside with music.

Music Evokes Similar Emotions in Different Languages

Classical and folk music are more likely to be known around the world than other styles of music. Classical instrumental music doesn’t need to be translated. Opera is often sung in Italian, Chanting may be in Hebrew or in languages spoken in India. When the music is powerful and beautiful, it doesn’t matter.
The words to the folk song “Frere Jacques” have been sung in many languages.
Frere Jacques, Frere Jacques
Dormez vous? Dormez vous?
Sonnes les matines, sonnez les matines,
Din, din, don. Din, din, don.

Are you sleeping, are you sleeping?
Brother John, Brother John,
Morning bells are ringing, morning bells are ringing
Ding Ding Dong, Ding Ding Dong.

Bruder Jakob, Bruder Jakob,
Schlafst du noch? Schlafst du noch?
Horst du nicht die Glocken, horst du nicht die Glocken?
Ding dang dong, ding dang dong.

Fra Martino, campanaro,
Dormi tu? Dormi tu?
Suona le campane, Suona le campane!
Din don dan, din don dan.

Martinillo, Martinillo,
¿Donde estas? ¿Donde estas?
Suenan las campanas, Suenan las campanas,
Ding dang dong, ding dang dong.

Vader Jacob, Vader Jacob,
Slaapt gij nog, slaapt gij nog,
Alle klokken luiden, Alle klokken luiden,
Bim, bam, bom, bim, bam, bom.

Music Connects us to the Universe

The ancient Greeks believed the planets made music as they traversed their heavenly orbits. Perhaps the Greeks had it right – we enjoy music because it reflects the workings of our minds as we’re tuned in to the rhythms of nature. The human brain loves to figure things out using patterns, and this mathematical formula connects us to the entire universe.
A picture is worth a thousand words, but music may be worth even more. Experience the different and beautiful sounds of music from around the world.
Listen to Frere Jacques at

Music is a language which the soul alone understands, but which the soul can never translate. – Arnold Bennett

Music Brings Hope for Peace

Often musicians can bring unity to people worldwide with a musical concert to benefit a charitable cause or raise funds to aid victims of a catastrophe—like the concerts organized immediately following the destruction of New York’s Twin Towers on 9-11.  Even if the language isn’t understood, people everywhere can share the emotions, feelings, memories, joy or sadness inspired by the music. As the notes and harmonies reverberate through our bodies, the shared feelings allow us to know that we are not alone but are connected.

Political views in the United States can sometimes be set aside with the presence of music. People from the far left and far right often share their love of certain music, and in their hearts they all want peace. Listening to that music together may sometimes reveal mutual understanding and allow communications to open.

We all seem to be aligned on a higher consciousness level with certain rhythms and melodies. Sound and vibration affect us, and certain music brings up similar emotions in everyone, no matter what language we speak.

Taliban supporters and other extreme Islamic groups feel threatened by music and consider music to be their enemy. Music-related shops, DVD and CD shops have been banned and have been the target of militants’ bombs. And yet, the arts and music have never been suppressed despite such efforts as these. Even in those places, the power and resilience of music, with its potential for healing, lives on.

The song “Let There Be Peace on Earth” has been translated into many languages. Those who are familiar with the song only have to hear the melody to feel that there is hope for peace.

I want to share with you here my harp recording of “Let There Be Peace on Earth,”  please click the link to listen.

You can download this track from my album at Amazon, iTunes, and Rhapsody.  The entire CD, “Healing from the Harp” is available at, where you can hear samples of all the music on the CD.



St. Patrick’s Day is associated with anything Irish:  harp music,  green, shamrocks,  luck,  singing and dancing.  The intended meaning of St. Patrick’s Day was to honor Saint Patrick, who is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland.  Many people celebrate its intended meaning by going to mass, offering prayers for missionaries before celebrating.

One of the most popular American Irish songs is Danny Boy. It’s often the first song we think of on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s also sung and played on the harp at many Irish funerals.  Danny Boy isn’t  really an Irish tune. It was written by an English lawyer, Frederick Weatherly, in 1910. Weatherly later added the words to an old melody, Air From County Derry, (Londonderry Air) and this is the classic song everyone knows today.

What is the meaning of the lyrics to Danny Boy?  Some think it’s about an Irish father watching his son go off to war expecting that he will be gone, (Dead).  Others believe it is about the IRA going to battle, or a mother who is ill saying goodbye as her son leaves for the states.  Is the real meaning a love song from a woman to man?  The lyrics seem to have several meanings and the Irish think of this song as one of their own.

Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
The summer’s gone, and all the flowers are dying
‘Tis you, ’tis you must go and I must bide.
But come ye back when summer’s in the meadow
Or when the valley’s hushed and white with snow
Tis I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow
Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so.
And if you come, when all the flowers are dying
And I am dead, as dead I well may be
You’ll come and fine the place where I am lying
And kneel and say an “Ave” there for me.
And I shall hear, tho’ soft you tread above me
And all my dreams will warn and sweeter be
If you’ll not fail to tell me that you love me
I’ll simply sleep in peace until you come to me.