I was reading an article this morning on whether we were comfortable in our own skin and it got me thinking about skin and how we might perceive it and the many layers within which we might intellectualise the topic. With the relative ease of obtaining botox and plastic surgery many people today, appear to be so quick to change their appearance. Why are we so obsessed with self image?
Is it the media and how we as human beings are portrayed?… You know the gorgeous man in the Armani suit or the young thin woman in designer clothes! Those images of our so called perfect human form, are like the beautiful tea cups we drink out of, if we are lucky enough to go to an occasional High Tea, beautiful to look at and lovely to use occasionally, but not practical on a daily basis. Is it that some people have more disposable income? Are we insecure emotionally? What do you think?
We use our skin all the time, we wash it, cut it, scrape it, massage it, paint it, tattoo it, rub it…what ever our whim. We come in all shapes and sizes, is that really so terrible? No one is the same. We are all unique. I love that. I want to be me, I am comfortable with that but are we all? What are we teaching our children about self image who we are or who they are?
Let’s consider what skin is… and how useful it is, by looking at how the role of skin is used by musicians. Sometimes to deprogram ourselves of a bad habbit…(this might be a self obsession!) It is sometimes useful to consider a topic from another perspective.
Music and dance is a part of our cultural heritage. How does that rate when compared to our self image… Can we compare?
SKIN as defined by the Encyclopaedia Britannica
“ the integument, or outer covering, of the vertebrate body, composed of two major layers: the epidermis and the dermis.”
Musicians through out the centuries have relied on ‘skin’ to enhance the timbres of their craft. They have dried it flat and tapped out rhythms: rolled it up tight to make gut strings: used reeds to create a fine skin like velum to blow down a pipe to create melody: used the skin of vibrating lips to blow mouth pieces. Skin is an integral part of music making.
All sections of the orchestra including the percussion, wind, strings and brass are all connected in some way to the use of animal or vegetable skin and of course the players could not play with out skin on their fingers, necks, lips and their bottoms!
Singers rely on vibrating folds of skin to sustain vocal production and would be lost with out the mucosa or inside skin in their internal resonators, tongue and lips.
Folk instruments have also depended greatly on skin with many cultures making up their own forms of membranophones, experimenting with drying skin, with hair on and hair off, using different types and parts of animals, thick skin, thin skin, rough, smooth, wide skin, narrow and so on. These instruments were not only made to keep a beat but also to create drones and melodies, such as bagpipe type instruments.
So is music only skin deep? Is our perception of self only skin deep?
These questions we could ponder for ever, but I would argue just as skin is the outer layer of our skeleton and holds us together the music made from these connections also plays an important role in keeping cultures together by creating rhythms and melodies that permeate our inner being and our souls, enhancing our well being. For example where would the African cultures be without their drum beats, song and dance, these artistic rituals are used to celebrate life. They are used without question or compromise they just are. South American cultures, Middle, North, East and Western European Cultures, Polynesian cultures and the Australian aboriginal culture, all use song, dance, rhythm and music making as an integral part of their connection with themselves, community and their land.
So in considering whether we are comfortable in our skin or with who we are, think of what skin does for us what we would be with out it. What is more important the depth of who we are, the traditions of family, community that we represent or the superficial look on a bill board!
When the earthly remains of creatures return back to the earth, including us humans, it is the bones that are left. The skin eventually disintergrates. The fabric of who we were, what we created and how we lived our lives, is what people remember not that wrinkle on your left cheek or the crows feet round your eyes. How you portray yourself comes from within and it would seem that we need to do a lot more in our society to encourage self belief.
Check out this video a study on what people want to change about themselves… Listen to the adults then listen to the children. They have got it. Don’t you just love them. We adults need to take note!
Always love to chat send me your thoughts.