“Port of entry” is indicated by Freud as that “which puts the network into a state of excitation”. (Priestley 1994) Priestley has indicated 3 mental mental operations as entry points into one’s pysche through music
Free emotional musical expression varying in pitch and rhythm:
- Can express an emotion and allow a stream of memories and thoughts to arise in the mind of the individual.
- Emotion is expressed through the musical expression but it cannot be linked to a thought or memory within the individual.
- Emotions are blocked by the individual and the musical improvisation is only heard as sounds with no links to thoughts and feelings.
The second mental operation is the musical expression of the resistance which prevents the individual to connect the musical expression with his or her own thoughts and feelings. This musical expression is usually like an ostinato and is not more than a few tones and sounds like the chants of ancient religions. This type of musical expression can lead to the release of memories, thoughts and feelings.
The 3rd mental operation is the actual musical expression of the resistance energy blocking the painful emotion. This is a compulsive rhythmic beating and usually very unpleasant to listen to. Through such a musical expression, sometimes the underlying emotion can be detected, expressed and released.
Priestley further indicated 4 modes that can be useful for improvisation: Dorian, Aeolian, Pentatonic and Eastern scale (A, B, C, D#, E, F, G#, A). (Priestley 1975)
In Jung’s idea of the shadow, music can be a bridge between consciousness and both the personal and collective unconscious. (Priestley 1994) This is done through improvised music in therapy which is an emotional language that can be connected to a deeper awareness using words during the reflection and discussion phase. Through this review and discussion, the material from the unconscious realm can enter into the conscious mind.
3 factors were listed by Priestley that can help in the internal healing process: “the teleological (goal-seeking) child with his/ her goal of wholeness; the presence of objects to play with; and the close personal attention of an adult who is willing to believe that the child’s activities have meaning and value even if she does not always know exactly what the meaning is at any given moment”. (Priestley 1994)
Priestley also expressed this phenomenon which she termed as “Receptive Creative Experience” (Priestley 1994) where the individual and therapist can engage fully in the present moment and “gained a feeling of a greater breadth of being”. (Priestley 1994) This is a feeling and awareness experienced by both the therapist and individual which is beyond their individual personality.
“Reaching up into a psychic area of light and freedom into which the sounds leap with ecstatic excitement and the two players become not one but three, again the third being the containing matrix of the music’s wholeness”. (Priestley 1994) In this phenomenon, the experience is that of the music appearing to be playing the people instead of the other way round. This is a common experience shared by many accomplished jazz improvisers and in some rare occasions of my performing work I have had the joy and awe of reaching into this space.