Musical therapy, used by physicians to calm patients and minimize stress, has a long history. In Ancient Greece, Damon, an instructor to Socrates and Pericles, believed its effectiveness was because it imitated the soul’s movements. They thought it calmed the soul’s animalistic side and attributed its influence to two major Gods, Apollo and Dionysus. Flutes, known as Phrygians, were favored in particular.

According to the Platonic view, Apollo used music to calm and civilize mortals. On the other hand, Dionysus stirred up wild passions, driving his followers into a state called mania. Some saw mania as a liberating force that could bring catharsis. Others, like the philosopher Plato, saw it as a sickness. Phrygian music played on a flute was seen as a way to control and regulate mania. Aristotle believed that such music could evoke emotions like fear and pity to bring about catharsis, making it ideal for the theater.

Artist: Christina L. Kolb

Four people sitting and playing musical instruments.

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Credit: Christina L. Kolb and Open Past

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