Music As A Regressive Aid
In the Deep-Feeling Psychotherapies

by John A. Speyrer

MIDI sequence(s) from the
Classical MIDI Archives
- by permission -

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Music can transport us back in time and evoke memories of earlier days and places. Just hearing a song which was popular during our youth or from happy or sad events in the past return us to those days with its associated memories. Likewise, hearing music from a favorite movie can remind us of the feelings associated with the movie, which in turn will trigger our early repressed feelings which were brought up during the movie.

Dr. Arthur Janov writes, "On the evolutionary scale, the feelings in music are much older than words, which came along millions of years later. It is why music can move us far more than words. It therefore has a greater impact. . ."

For those of us in the regressive therapies, music has more direct uses. Many of us have discovered early in our regressive therapy process that music helps us to connect to early primal feelings of our childhood, infancy, birth and even before birth.

The musical selection which began when you accessed this article is J. S. Bach's Little Fugue in G, beautifully sequenced by Pierre Schwob. I wanted instead to have Pachebel's Canon in D, but permission has not as yet arrived. The music is from a midi file, which has the important advantage of taking little storage space on hard drives. Naturally, the full orchestral or solo version of music is preferable, but midi versions can nonetheless impart a strong emotional response. If you like the midi version of a selection, then be sure to listen to its original version.

I have written for permission to include other musical selections on this page. Hopefully, in the next few weeks, I will be able to include here other midi selections of feelingful music from the listings below.

How music can be helpful in the regressive psychotherapies is explained by Dr Stanislav Grof in Beyond the Brain:

"(Music) . . . provides a meaningful dynamic structure for the experience and creates a continuous carrying wave that helps the subject move through difficult sequences and impasses, overcome psychological defenses, and surrender to the flow of the experience.

It tends to convey a sense of continuity and connection in the course of various states of consciousness.

On occasion, a skillful use of music can also facilitate the emergence of specific contents, such as aggression, sensual or sexual feelings, emotional or physical pain, ecstatic rapture, cosmic expansion, or an oceanic atmosphere of the womb."
-- p. 386

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I invite readers to share their favorite selections which they have used or are using to connect with and deepen their regressive experiences. The selections don't have to be classical music. Country music, popular music, electronic "space" music, blues, - any type of music - can all be used for that purpose. Your selections will appear below. If you do not wish your name to appear with your list, please let me know.

I'll start off the list with my own favorites.

John A. Speyrer's Favorites

  • Pachebel's Canon in D
  • Gustav Mahler - Symphony #5, 4th movement
  • "I'll Be Home For Christmas" - Bing Crosby
  • "When I Need You" - Leo Sayer -
  • Music from the movie, "Tous Les Matins du Monde" (All the Mornings of the World)
  • Almost all of the music from PBS's Sunday night Masterpiece Theatre Series
  • J.S. Bach - "Christ Lay in the Bonds of Death" (Cantata)
  • Albinioni, Tomaso - "Adagio for Strings and Organ"
  • Funeral Music from the Movie "Dr. Zhivago"
  • "L'Apocalypse Des Animaux" - 1972 Documentary Soundtrack by Vangelis
  • "Halcyon Days" by Steve Roach (Birth Music)
  • "Music To Disappear In" - Vol 1 by Raphael (Birth Music)
  • "Passion" by Peter Gabriel - Music For the Martin Scorsese Film "The Last Temptation of Christ" (Birth Music)
  • J.S. Bach - I Call On Thee (In Dich Hab' Ich Behoffet, Herr) from OrgenBuchlein
  • Handel - "Prelude" (Organ Solo from Organ Concerto #14
  • Edvard Grieg - "Air from Holberg Suite"
  • Henry Purcell's Opera, Dido and Aeneas - aria, Dido's Lament: "When I am Laid in Earth"
  • Music from the Movie "Resurrection"
  • Michael Stearns - "Encounter - A Journey in the Key of Space" (Birth Music)
  • Constance Demby - "Novus Magnificat - Through the Star Gate" (Birth Music)

    Pat Törngren's Favourites

  • Loreena McKennitt - "Dark Night of the Soul" and "Cymbeline"
  • Brahms - "Ein Deutsches Requiem"
  • Brahms - "Alto Rhapsody"
  • Brahms - String Sextet no.1
  • Beethoven - Piano Sonata opus 109, last movement
  • Handel - Concerti Grossi, opus 6
  • Mozart - Opera Arias (performed by Kathleen Battle)
  • R. Schumann - "Scenes from Childhood" (1st piece)
  • Gluck - "Orpheo et Euridice"
  • Purcell - Funeral Music
  • Croft - Funeral Music
  • J.S. Bach - "St John Passion" (Chorales)
  • J.S. Bach - "St Matthew Passion" (Chorales)
  • Pachelbel - Canon in D
  • Bloch - "Kol Nidrei"
  • Ennio Morricone - Music from "The Mission" and "Days of Heaven"
  • Mahler - 2nd Symphony (Resurection), "O Röschen rot", Adagio from 5th Symphony
  • Richard Strauss - "Vier Letste Lieder" (performed by Gundula Janowitz)
  • Vaughan Williams - "The Lark Ascending", "Mass in G minor", "Variations on a Theme of Thomas Tallis"
  • Thomas Tallis - "Spem in Alium"
  • Schubert - "Alle Ziele" (Lied)
  • Eric Clapton - "Tears in Heaven"
  • Taizé Community - "Adoramus te Domine", "Adoramus te Christe", "Singt dem Herrn Ein Neues Lied", "Mon ame se Repose", "Dans nos Obscutrités", "Stay with Us", "Da Pacem Domine", "Veni Sancte Spiritus","Ostende Nobis"
  • Maire Brennan - "Where I Stand", "Sign from the Hills", "Perfect Time", "Our World", "Boadicea"
  • Clannad - "Theme from Harry's Game", "Coinleach Glas an Fromhair", "Lady Marian", "The Fairy Queen", "Buchaill and Eirne"
  • Enya - "Fallen Embers", "Pilgrim", "Only Time"
  • SA Anthem - "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" (God bless Africa)

    John Farion's Favorites

  • David Bowie's Low - CD Album, especially track named Art Decade - Birth Music

    Ross Ellingwood's Favorites

  • Judy Collins - "Who Knows Where the Time Goes" 1968 - Particularly the song "My Father" and "the Story of Isaac"
  • Phil Ochs - "Fantasies and Farewells" especially the track "The Scorpion"
  • Tom Paxton - "Phil"
  • Eric Andersen's "Blue River" 1972
  • John Lennon - "Plastic Ono Band" and "Imagine" albums.
  • Yoko Ono's "Season of Glass"
  • Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush" and "Harvest"
  • Pink FLoyd - "The Final Cut"

    David Larson's Favorites

  • Johann Strauss's - "Tales From the Vienna Woods"
  • Handel's "Largo" - from "Xerxes"
  • Jeremiah Clarke - "Prince of Denmark's March" (a.k.a. "Trumpet Voluntary")
  • Hymn - "Guide Me, O, Thou Great Redeemer" (tune "Cwm Rhondda")
  • Hymn - "On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand"
  • Johann Strauss - (father) "Radetzky March"
  • Stephen Foster - "Way Down Upon the Suwannee River"
  • "Danny Boy" - ("Londonderry Air")
  • "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny" - (Virginia state song)
  • Hymn - "Beulah Land"
  • Handel - "Water Music" (particularly "Alla Hornpipe")
  • German military march - "Herzog von Braunschweig" ("Duke of Brunswick's March")
  • Theme from - "Gone With the Wind"

    Fred Lubin's Favorites

    I thought I'd name some of my best "time machine" pieces. My bachelor's degree was piano/composition, and my classical background originates in early childhood (I claim that a lot of my early neuroticism came directly from Chopin). Here are some of my favorite spooks:

    • Edvard Grieg, Lyric Pieces Op. 43, No. 3, In My Native Country. One may need to have the Norwegian "peasant spirit" in one's blood to grasp the magic of Grieg's music (you get it by listening to a lot of it and being impressionable). Some of his pieces, delivering me to a childlike hopefulness and love I never had, are so poignant to me I almost black out. Much of Grieg's music is blandized via blurry orchestration. This piece, like so many others of his (including the Lyric Pieces below), is best on piano.
    • Grieg, The Last Spring (one of Two Elegiac Melodies).
    • Grieg, Lyric Pieces, Op. 68, No. ?, At The Cradle.
    • Grieg, Lyric Pieces, Op. 65, No. 2, Peasant's Song.
    • Grieg, Lyric Pieces, Op. 71, No. 1, Once Upon a Time.
    • Grieg, 19 Norwegian Folk Tunes, Op. 66, No. 1, Cattle Call. Short, and oh so sweet.
    • Percy Grainger (friend of Grieg and bringer-to-the-world of the famous Country Gardens and Tune From County Derry, aka Londonderry Air), The Sussex Mummers Christmas Carol.
    • Chopin, Etude Op. 25, No. 12, if I remember correctly. The very stormy last one in c minor.
    • Chopin, Ballade No. 4.
    • Chopin, Prelude Posthumous, Op. 45. (This is a most strange piece. One critic described it as "recondite.")
    • And we can't forget the old rock 'n' roll song by Vince Martin with The Tarriers, Cindy Oh Cindy !
    -- Fred Lubin

    Your Favorites Will Go Here!