This is the first article I will be writing in a series devoted to the growing field of sound healing. Before going into the science, technique, theories and practices surrounding the therapeutic use of sound in the series, it’s important to introduce the basic principles of sound healing, name a few pioneers in the field and more important address how sound and music (i.e. organized sound and silence) affects people. Lastly, I’ll start to discuss how you can become more conscious in your own process as an artist, producer and/or composer.
Vibration and Frequency
Everything around us is vibrating. It’s easy to forget that any objects we perceive as solid or not ‘alive’ are actually vibrating. It may be at a very slow pace, beyond our sense of movement, but the atoms and molecules that make up rocks and trees and man-made goods are moving energy. Nothing is at rest.
Low to High Frequency Sweep.
Everything has a frequency. We attract and repel people with our energy or individual frequency. We can think of our individual frequency as a tone or a harmony of tones unique to us. Inside our bodies, our organs, bones and cells vibrate at their natural frequencies. Frequencies are measured in Hertz, just like we see in our equalizer controls whether they be hardware or software based. The longer and more spread out the wave, the lower the sound and the closer together the waves are, the higher the sound.
Dr. Peter Guy Manners completed extensive clinical research with the help of medical doctors and clinical researchers starting in 1940 to pinpoint the natural resonant frequencies or ‘biosignatures’ of our healthy tissues organ systems. Since then, tools and instruments have to been developed to help feed the body with these frequencies to help balance the body.
Dr Tomatis Listening and Evaluation device.
Dr. Tomatis a French physician and auditory neurophysiologist believed our ear drives and affects our entire nervous system and depending what we are listening to, music or otherwise, will dictate our energy level and sense of well-being. He experimented with different music including high frequencies, and/or low frequencies to see how they affect the brain and the patient overall. By studying Benedictine monks in France, he observed how important the monk’s chanting was to their overall health and well-being. When the daily chanting ritual was taken away from them for a short time, most fell ill before the singing was reintroduced to their full recovery. Don Campbell, in his book ‘The Mozart Effect,’ studied how listening to Mozart boosted the brain capacity, focus and spatial reasoning of the listener while they were studying or answer questions. More and more evidence and study is coming out all the time about the power of sound and music to well-being.
The study of the visible representations of vibrational sound is called Cymatics. This research was pioneered by Dr. Hans Jenny who played tones at different frequencies through a vibrating plate filled with sand. As he swept through tones and frequencies, you could see the sound arrange itself into distinct geometrical patterns, or mandalas, showing the unique visual imprint of each tone. Every sound we hear has an imprint.
Dr. Hans Jenny Experiments with Cymatics.
Noise Kills and Music Heals
With this in mind there are certain sounds, when heard and visualized, that can harm and also heal. Distorted, irregular cymatic patterns of loud noise and harmful electro-magnetic energies can disrupt the healthy vibrational patterns of our bodies causing disease. The patterns of these harmful sounds even look jagged and irregular while soothing, pure sound have beautiful geometric shapes, like snowflakes.
Every snowflake is unique.
Hearing is the first sense to develop in the womb. The vagus nerve connects our ear to every organ and muscle system in our body. Many believe what we hear is processed and carried throughout our body affecting it in a positive or negative manner, even causing change at the cellular level and that this is why music and sound with the right intention can also heal us. Sound also permeates us quickly because 70% of our bodies are made of water.
I had the pleasure of attending a workshop with Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, a well-known oncologist who works with his cancer patients combining traditional chemotherapy with chanting, singing, guided meditation, tibetan bowl and crystal bowl therapy. He has had great success with sound healing techniques and has seen people release a great amount of psychological and physiological blockages, facilitating their healing process and recovery. Music has the power to relieve anxiety and stress while releasing endorphins and boosting our immune systems. No drugs required!
Large Tibetan Bowl.
Conscious Music Production
What can we do as music producers and artists to infuse more positive intention into our music?
I only intend to make suggests and pose this question to you as an open ended project, just like our art which shifts and changes with time. I am also not suggesting that everyone make ‘new age’ or meditation music to access this space. Just keeping in mind how sound and music affects people will guide your music production choices in whatever genre you specialize. So much of this process already happens naturally.
One way you can do this is by dropping into your own sacred space through meditation and/or singing. Many widely influential artists, like Philip Glass, meditate before embarking on a day of composition. Sitting in silence and practicing clearing the mind can lead to increased focus in the production process. Clearing and opening the mind will allow for new ideas to emerge effortlessly without the clutter in the way. Include humming or chanting a simple ‘om’ or ‘ah’ while doing this to help stay present. Your own singing vibration can help your body practice ‘dropping in’ to your own resonant frequencies. Create with a sense of balance.
In upcoming articles, I will be discussing the power of brainwave entrainment using binaural beats and how to produce them. Also, I will be exploring instruments and sounds used in sound therapy and meditation that can also be applied to other types of music. This is a field of study that is merging more and more with the music world at large.
When you start to think about writing and producing music with all these things in mind, it can shift your perception of your own process and what you intend to convey, no matter what kind of music you produce. It will certainly reach the people who are resonating in the same frequency spectrum as you! I look forward to continuing this discussion with you on the MPV Hub!