My personal interest in sound for healing and expanding consciousness was the result of my lifelong love affair with music, coupled with my personal spiritual quest – which I started in earnest about 25 years ago. I was drawn to the study of antiquity – specifically I examined methods employing sound and music to alter and improve mind, body, emotions, energy and spiritual aspects of practitioners’ lives. I collected voluminous materials on Sound Healing over many years. This prompted me to write a book on the topic where I include interviews with leading researchers and scientists in the field.
Concurrent with my research, I began producing my own recordings. In the early 2000’s I built a studio in my home to record my own compositions. I blend my original music with ancient techniques and embed special sounds in the tracks. The end result is pleasing and beneficial on multiple levels. Many people enjoy the music as a normal listening experience; more significantly other people have been able to reach new levels of consciousness, peace and wellness by focused listening to my compositions.
The field of Sound Healing is a rapidly growing discipline that is attracting great interest. As indicated above, many of the techniques that are employed stem from ancient traditions. There is also cutting edge research underway, which is expanding the understanding and promise of this field. An important technique in Sound Healing utilizes the intricate combination and interplay of numerous musical effects. It is the magical and complex interaction of special sounds with the human body and the mind that give the impressive results that can be achieved with Sound Healing. Read on below for further introduction into transformative aspects of music.
Music Aspect #1; Intervals
An interval is a technique used in music where two different notes are sounded at the same time. The individual notes combine to produce a new sound effect different than either of the two originals. This phenomenon is due to the interaction of the sound waves comprising each note. Remember sound waves are like waves on the ocean – only they are traveling through air. When two waves interfere constructively you get a higher wave – a higher pitch. When two sound waves interfere destructively you get a lower note. Simply put, sound waves are energy and when two or more interact, they change each other.
When the brain receives tones that are presented extremely close to the ears (as when you wear headphones) the brain can only “hear” one tone at a time. If you play a different tone into each ear (with head phones), then the brain combines and averages both tones, and you hear a pulsing sound which is the average of the two tones. What is thrilling about this is that you have just introduced “whole brain” functioning - both your right and left brain hemispheres are working together processing this information. Regular use of “whole brain” functioning has been shown to enhance intelligence. Studies also suggest that this phenomenon makes your brain more nimble and flexible, reducing mental decline.
Certain intervals impact our states of consciousness and produce different feelings. For example, a major fifth interval produces a harmonious, spiritual feeling while a major seventh interval produces a moody emotion and a minor third creates a melancholy feel. Amazingly different sound intervals create unique feelings and moods. Techniques employing sound intervals have shown impressive results relieving depression and other negative emotions such as loneliness, pity and anger.
Music Aspect # 2; Pitch
The pitch of a note is how high or low it sounds. Higher frequency is higher pitch – corresponding to faster vibrations or “tighter waves” and higher energy. Lower pitch is due to slower vibrations.
French physicist, Joel Sternheimer, discovered that: “while a protein is being assembled from its 20 constituent amino acids in the ‘Cell Factory’ called the ribosome, the amino acid’s (movements) are considerably slowed down…so a vibration or a frequency can be calculated…and transcribed into acoustical bandwidth, as a note…” (Jean – Pierre Lentin, Keelynet.com) Sternheimer’s point is that the vibration of each amino acid corresponds to a note. If you play the notes, corresponding to the amino acids, back in the order that they are combined in a protein, a melody results. When the melody of the amino acids is played back to the same plant, its growth is increased by up to 250 percent and resilience to drought and disease is improved.
Just as plants have shown to be positively affected by Sternheimer’s melodies, there are many researchers studying the effects of pitches and melodies on human health, brain waves and states of consciousness. Specifically, Annette Kearl, MA, MT-BC, has said that within Beethoven’s music are melodies of ACTH (kidney molecule), alpha 1-antitrypsin (lung molecule) and cytochrome (liver molecule). Robert Monroe, who founded the Monroe Institute, discovered that listening to recordings of specific pitches produced psychic phenomena in listeners. The French ear, nose and throat doctor, Alfred Tomatis, demonstrated that higher pitches charge the neocortex of the brain, giving people energy.
Scientists have documented that certain brainwaves correspond to a physiological state in which beneficial chemicals are produced in our bodies. Manufacturers of sound and light machines tout that special sounds can induce delta and theta brain waves. Chemicals produced while in delta and theta brain states are: endorphins (for feeling good), catecholamines (vital for memory and learning), DHEA (increase resistance to disease), lowered cortisol (slows the aging process), vasopressin (boosts serotonin to ease pain) and melotonin (sleep aid).
Other documented benefits accompanying delta and theta brain wave states include the experience of tranquility, pain control, creativity, euphoria, excitement, focused attention, enhanced problem solving, increased memory, accelerated healing, behavior modification, improvements in mental and emotional health.
Music Aspect #3; Rhythm
It has often been said that the human body is an orchestra with the heart drumming out the constant beat. In the womb, we hear our first communication in the rhythm of the mother’s heartbeat. We receive reassurance through a steady rhythm.
Rhythm can affect our pulse and heart rate, breath, stress response, and the pace of our voice, walking and activities. A healing rhythm increases or slows our energy down, strengthening the elasticity of our pulse, helping us gain vitality.
Our own rhythms can be a more complete expression of who we are than we realize. On a busy street watch the variations of walking. Some people bounce, others shuffle and a few march. Some are rigid, others flexible. Other variations include jerkiness versus regularity of rhythm, or a calm rhythm versus a rushed one. Our personality and emotions can be revealed in the rhythm of our walk.
Words have rhythm. Our rate of speaking and associated movements is an expression of individualism, in fact they often show unspoken communication, our underlining meaning beneath our words. While our words may say one thing, our rhythm of words and body language can say another, revealing a deeper truth.
Reinhard Flatischler, who developed the revolutionary approach to rhythm, combining pulse, breath, voice and rhythm, said in his book, The Forgotten Power of Rhythm, “The drum returns my energy by translating it into audible rhythm and thus completes a circuit of energy that allows me to connect with my own power.” The rhythm expresses our own energy and power.
American Indians used drum rhythms to induce trances, in which they experienced “out of the body” travel, similar to effects from hallucinatory drugs. These “journeys” were used to glean information from the future or to receive wisdom for their decisions and purposes in life.
African witch doctors utilized drum beats to work dancers into a frenzy, citing that these experiences cause one to shed negative energy that can be the underlying cause of illness.
Rhythm is an important contribution in the many faceted art of Sound Healing. Impressive results can be obtained when rhythm is properly combined with other powerful Sound Healing techniques.
This concludes our tour discussing intervals, pitches and rhythm, a few of the many fundamental musical components of Sound Healing. Science is beginning to embrace and understand many Sound Healing techniques some originating from antiquity. Sound Healing can profoundly impact and change our health, intelligence and energy. I am excited to be involved in this field as a researcher but more importantly through my musical recordings. The creative process is very fulfilling but I am most rewarded in realizing the benefits that others can receive from sound and music.
Jill Mattson is an accomplished musician, composer and author of works on Sound Healing. Jill wrote Ancient Sound – Modern Healing, Transformative Power In Sound: Intelligence, Health and Energy Through the Magic of Music, and Secret Sounds ~ Modern Healing. She lectures throughout the U.S. on the power of Sound Healing. Jill has six sound healing CDs with transforming energy that employ her special techniques. Sample Jill’s music and cyber gallery of art at http://www.jillswingsoflight.com, and http://www.redbubbledotcom/Jill Mattson. Free Sound Healing Newsletter and mp3’s available at http://www.jillshealingmusic.com.