Home Masthead Vera Brandes: Music and the Brain

Vera Brandes: Music and the Brain

Dr Vera Brandes: Music and the Brain
Kieth Jarrett in the throes of improvisation

met Manfred Eicher and [inaudible] all of the musicians that were recording for ECM at that time. And so, it was the most natural thing in the world to start helping them out and I started to do tours for people like Ronnie Scott. I used my father’s telephone at the time that he didn’t need it, which was basically at night and started calling up jazz clubs and getting jobs for these people. And then at one point I started to produce concerts and that was just maybe three quarters of a year before that Keith Jarrett concert happened. And the first group that I actually put on stage in a real concert hall, rather than a club, was Oregon. And the members of Oregon have become my friends and they still are. They’re friends for a lifetime. And I just had this enormous luck to meet these incredible musicians at that early age in my life, which I’m so thankful for and I hope that what I was able to give to them, paid back for what they gave to me.

SM: Wow, that’s a fabulous story and I know since we only have a few minutes for you to take me from there to here, to today, when you are working on this wonderful project to use music as medicine. Tell me when you first got the idea to do that.

VB: It is a very short story.

SM: Okay. [brief laughter]

VB: It’s a very–it could be a very long story, but I could make it very short because the power of music in healing yourself was something that I experienced in my life so many times. And then when I was a producer of concerts, where we started with a hundred people and ended with ten thousands of people and big stadiums and when you can see it what music can do to the individual and to the collective of mankind, it is so powerful that of course, I wanted to know more about this. And I come from a medical family, conventional medicine, totally convinced that that’s the only type of medicine there should be and then on my disappointment, with conventional medicine,

The most iconic image of Keith Jarrett playing in Köln on 25th January 1975

led me to become, on a private level, an expert in alternative medicine. And it was just a matter of time to combine the two and to see, you know, if music can heal the souls of people, then of course, it can heal the bodies. I wanted to know how do we go about this and how can we find out what music we have to use for what disorder and what time and what dosage and how do we come from this general observation to something that is personalized medicine at the state of the art and qualified and measured and tested and evaluated by the very same methods that are used in modern medicine and pharmacology.

SM: Now, I was reading that music can be used for some psychosomatic illnesses and yet, my understanding when I was growing up, is that a psychosomatic illness was something that wasn’t real. And I know that the derivation of the word and of course, a medical person would not say that bout psychosomatic illnesses. They’re as real to the person suffering them as anyone else. So, help me understand how and why medicine would be used for a psychosomatic illness and what exactly is a psychosomatic illness?

VB: There are two different opinions what a psychosomatic disease is. In western medicine, we believe that it’s, mental, psychological and an emotional issue, that has manifested somatically. So, in former times for instance, there was a lot of misunderstanding about psychosomatic diseases. Ulcers were considered to be primarily caused by stress. Where today, we know it’s absolutely not the case, it’s a simple bacterial infection and it should be treated with antibiotics and nothing else. But ninety percent of all diseases have components of psychological stress factors, either as a cause or as consequence. And if you don’t look at them at the same time, then healing just on a physiological level is very, very difficult. What we in the German language territory call


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.