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Some of the almost 100 pages in this Healing section are below, to see the links to all of the pages please go HERE

Healing with the Music of the Heart
By 2CrowWoman

Finding Healing Music in the Heart
Published: November 9, 2004

Around the South Jamaica housing projects in Queens, young men with pit bulls guard street
corners and rap music blares from car stereos. But one house, on 110th Avenue, seems to openly
defy its gritty surroundings.

Its owner, Milford Graves, has covered it with an ornate mosaic of stones, reflective metal and
hunks of discarded marble, arranged in cheery patterns. The yard is a lush garden, dense with
citrus trees, herbs and exotic plants.

Mr. Graves, 63, a jazz drummer who made his mark in the 1960's with avant-garde musicians
like Albert Ayler, Paul Bley and Sonny Sharrock, performs only occasionally now. He spends
about half his week teaching music healing and jazz improvisation classes at Bennington College
in Vermont, where he has been a professor for 31 years. He spends much of the rest of his week
in his basement researching the relationship between music and the human heart.

After descending the psychedelic-painted stairway into his laboratory, visitors are faced with a
collection of drums from around the world, surrounding a network of computers. Wooden
African idols spiked with nails rub up against medical anatomical models. Amid a vast inventory
of herbs, roots and plant extracts sits an old wooden recliner equipped with four electronic
stethoscopes connected to computers displaying intricate electrocardiogram readouts.

In 1967, Mr. Graves was honored in a Down Beat magazine critics poll as the year's bright new
talent. He had offers of lucrative gigs from artists like Miles Davis and the South African singer
Miriam Makeba.

But after years of hard living as a jazzman, Mr. Graves began studying holistic healing, and then
teaching it. He became fascinated with the effect of music on physiological functions.

"People with ailments would attend my performances and tell me they felt better afterward," he

Curious about the heartbeat as a primary source of rhythm, he bought an electronic stethoscope
and began recording his and other musicians' heartbeats.

"I wanted to see what kind of music my heart was making," he said.

In his basement, he converted the heartbeats to a higher register and dissected them. Behind the
basic binary thum-THUMP beat, he heard other rhythms - more spontaneous and complex
patterns in less-regular time intervals - akin to a drummer using his four limbs independently.
"A lot of it was like free jazz," Mr. Graves said one day last week in his basement. "There were
rhythms I had only heard in Cuban and Nigerian music." He demonstrated by thumping a steady
bum-BUM rhythm on a conga with his right hand, while delivering with his left a series of
unconnected rhythms on an hourglass-shaped talking drum.

Mr. Graves created computer programs to analyze the heart's rhythms and pitches, which are
caused by muscle and valve movement. The pitches correspond to actual notes on the Western
musical scale. Raised several octaves, the cardiac sounds became rather melodic.

"When I hooked up to the four chambers of the heart, it sounded like four-part harmony," Mr.
Graves said.

He began composing with the sounds - both by transcribing heartbeat melodies and by using
recorded fragments. He also realized he could help detect heart problems, maybe even cure them.
"A healthy heart has strong, supple walls, so the sound usually has a nice flow," he said. "You
hear it and say, 'Ah, now that's hip.' But an unhealthy heart has stiff and brittle muscles. There's
less compliance, and sounds can come out up to three octaves higher than normal.

"You can pinpoint things by the melody. You can hear something and say, 'Ah, sounds like a
problem in the right atrium.' "

In 2000, Mr. Graves received a grant from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation,
which he said gave him money to buy essential equipment.

Dr. Baruch Krauss, who teaches pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and is an emergency
physician at Boston Children's Hospital, said the medical establishment has only recently begun
to appreciate the rhythmic and tonal complexities of the heartbeat and speak about it in terms of
syncopation and polyrhythms.

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