When Orsino utters the famous words, “If music be the food of love, play on”, in Twelfth Night, it is in the hope that a melody might ease his aching heart.
But had he lived in modern times, Shakespeare’s lovesick duke might have discovered it to be the cure for insomnia, depression and anxiety, too. Especially if he had met composer John Levine. The 60-year-old former rocker has created a special type of healing music called Alphamusic Therapy, which he claims can help treat all of these conditions and more. It works by using sound to tune in to the alpha waves in the brain that control mood, and has actually been scientifically shown to alter brain chemistry.
“We underestimate the power of music,” says John, “yet we only have to recall the last time a song made us laugh or cry to realise how much it can affect the way we feel. What I do is basically an extension of this.”
John, who played piano from the age of three, came up with the idea of making therapeutic recordings when his father became extremely ill with stress-related conditions in 1984.
“You name it, he had it,” John recalls. “Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease – he even suffered a stroke. Stress was slowly killing him and no matter how often doctors told him he needed to learn to relax more, he just wouldn’t listen.”