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Music can put you in hypnosis, at least in my experience. When I listen to certain pieces I experience all the phenomena of light hypnotic trance, such as inner absorption, lower awareness of my surroundings and unawareness of the passage of time.

Of course, this only happens when I listen properly. If I happen to hear one of the pieces in question when I’m busy doing other things then I don’t suddenly go into hypnosis, anymore than I would if I happened to hear someone reading a hypnotic induction script out loud. One must be in the mood!

Does this have any therapeutic value? Can one use music as a session of hypnotherapy? Yes and no. Yes, because if music (or some pieces of music) induces hypnosis then all you need to do is to administer (or self-administer) positive therapeutic suggestions and you have a session of hypnotherapy. No, because music tends to carry its own associations with it. This can be due to the “meaning” of the piece of music itself or due to personal associations. The piece might bring back memories or remind you of things which have nothing to do with therapeutic suggestions. And if you start listening to a piece of music and drift off into hypnosis and then start giving yourself suggestions the chances are that the spell of the music will quickly be broken and you will quickly return to full waking consciousness.

I’m sure that it must be possible to harness the hypnotic power of music to good therapeutic ends. But I haven’t figured out the best way to do it yet! In the meantime, here is a piece which never fails to put me in hypnosis. It is by George Gershwin, of all people.

Although I have loved all sorts of music throughout my life, the popular music of the early 20th century was always a bit of a blind spot. However, when I was at university I fell in love with Gershwin’s music. It happened by accident. I listened to the second movement of the Piano Concerto, and that was that – I was hooked! When I was a student, Gershwin wasn’t very hip and trendy but I didn’t care. Gershwin was held in high regard by people such as Ravel and Stravinsky. If he’s good enough for them, he’s good enough for me!

The hypnotic piece by Gershwin is his Lullaby, written in 1919. Unbelievably, this work (in its original form) was written as an academic exercise. It doesn’t sound like it! Try it and see for yourself…

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