The trumpets sounded and with a great shout, it was said, the walls of Jericho came down. The Lyre of Apollo was received by Orpheus to tame wild beasts and soothe the souls of men. The Pied Piper was able to lure both the rats and children out of town with his musical charm. Why? What did they know about the power of music and sound?
Whatever type of healing practice you may have, creating healing environments is not just about basic sensual aspects or furnishing aesthetics. We must also consider vibrations, sounds and energies impacting upon persons.It is worthwhile for any persons working with music and sound in the healing arts to gain a bit of insight into its potentials and power to help them facilitate with precision and intent according to the client’s needs. We will explore this and more.
What affect does different instrumentation have upon persons? Each instrument family has distinct timbres and aspects of instrument design that lend themselves to affect various body regions. Some of what we understand of such affect is due to how and where we use the instruments to play, others the materials they are crafted from, their resonance and the nature of the sound they produce. Explore this and more at this workshop
Is the ear the only mechanism involved in the perception of sound? How else are we affected?. We will explore experientially. What is consciousness? What is state change? Explorations of the nature of being and experiencing.
What special magic can music bring to our physical emotional mental and spiritual wellbeing? Is there a key to this magic? We will look at the special magics of music opening our mind and heart to it’s true potential and power.
What are the links between ambient environment sounds and health? how do sounds in the world soundscape affect health and wellbeing, not only of ourselves but all species? Included in this workshop is a brief overview of sound and health and interspecies ethics from the perspective of Acoustic Ecology.
How much of the way music affects us is due to individual bias and how much is due to elements of music and greater principles? Explore this and more in this intensive one day workshop
Reference manual is included. Book soon, maximum numbers 8 due to space restrictions
MUSIC & SOUND IN THE HEALING ARTS WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
TRAINING FOR THE HEALING ARTS PRACTIONER
Republishing from blogspot by Catherine Meeson © 2011 & 2015
The trumpets sounded and with a great shout , it was said, the Walls of Jericho came down. The Lyre of Apollo was received by Orpheus to tame the wild beastsand soothe the souls of men. The Pied Piper of Hamelin led the children and the rats out of Hamelin. Such tales, whether folk lore; myth, or based in actual historical fact, have an element containing the magical nature of music and sound. But is it a magic?
No two souls are affected in the same way by sound and music. The vast majority of people like and appreciate music as an art form. As a source of pleasure, some as an outlet for their inner worlds, some as a vehicle to transport their consciousness. We love and appreciate it for many reasons, though we may not be aware of what they are consciously.
Through sound we are carried. Through vibratory resonance we receive sound, it is with our whole being not just our ears. Sound is an energetic phenomena. It is a force phenomena. It is a creator of patterns (Jenny, H1967, 2001 & Hughes, M, 1904) and an evoker of feeling responses. It is processed by more than just the brain; in fact, the whole subtle body network and the meridian pathways (Wu, Shen, 2001). It is a stimulator of thought and of memory. Sound taps our ancestral memory, reaching back through time into the very dna code itself and the collective layers of planetary resonance and experience. It evokes deity and the gods, wisdom and knowledge. With song we share thought, feeling, message and story. We transmit who we are. We connect to the divine.
Our first songs are our mothers, they are her lullabies and laments, her biological rhythms. We hear in the womb, the ear being one of the 1st fully formed organs. Before we understand language, we understand sound, on a level of unity consciousness in which we are totally open and connected. Children are born with chakras wide open but immature and take in every vibration around them as a sponge without the ability to self protect (Brennan, B, pp.64-66 1987).Then with birth and our first utterance; the word is made flesh. The flesh utters the energetic presence and intent of the spirit, Self saying I am here.
We learn early on, our prejudices. We learn early on pleasures associated with sounds. We learn in a totally holistic multi sensory way, kinaesthetically (through the body and feelings), auditory (through the heard), olfactory (through taste) and visually (through our sight). Learning and memory are not localised solely within the mind brain region. It is here we process data, but according to holographic and field theories, information is stored throughout the whole energy field. The brain is merely the c.p.u., the mind is part of the larger evolving energy field. We perceive through our energy field, through our chakras and meridians, through our senses. All that shares the planet with us, is part of a physical and an energetic dimension, with a corresponding energy field, a vibratory matrix- the great big web of Dependant life ( to quote a lyric in one of my songs- Atmospherica).
Music and sound interact with this matrix and encode it. Music and sound affect matter, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual matter as sound is 'prima materia', a generating creative force. In the beginning was the word, the sound ‘The aum’. Sound and light can be measured as part of the electromagnetic spectrum- the spectrum we use to measure vibrations and emanations of all kinds in hertz and megahertz frequencies. Cosmic rays to earth quakes to x rays and microwaves all are part of this larger field. All energetic phenomena. There are still types of matter/ energy we cannot record and as yet we only have few tools that enable us to record impressions of the human energy field- Kirlian photography. The more our sciences develop, the more we are able to discern, as our conscious growth is matched by our creative ingenuity and understanding. Consider the ground breaking revelations of Masura Emoto (r.I.P), water crystal photography and consciousness experiments (Emoto, 2004, 2005). We develop more refined methods of perceiving the energy spectrum with the manufacture of new technologies.
I speak of these things because they all impact consciousness and matter. Matter is consciousness at its densest level. Whatever ones theological or philosophical orientation, there are certain things about the nature of sound and vibration, and it is one such area where there is relative consensus. We use sound in medicine, ultra sound, in Laser surgery, we use it in military applications and we use it in engineering to clean things dislodging the sludge from fuel injectors. All cultures have practises related to music & sound, sacred knowledge and healing. We have tales of its use and misuse.
Our spiritual traditions use sound and music for sacred communion with deity. We use hymns, recite the words of the prophets and messengers, we use mantras and prayer. Our world is a totally sonic environment, getting louder everyday. The Soundscape is changing , with new sounds emerging constantly as our technologies and populations grow.(Shcaeffer, M 1977).
Our many cultures and music’s, speak of our world, of our history, our concerns for who we are. We are transported by sound- it affects our consciousness and it does this beyond most of our conscious control. When we take the time to reflect we may find certain music’s relax, stimulate, or agitate etc.. This response patterning is an area both shared by all, but dependent upon ones disposition and conditioning. We are all unique in vibratory matrix and beingness.
We have music that is instrumental, music of voice, electrified, acoustic, electronic and sound design types of music and combinations of all of these, there is even room for noise in the compositional domain, and do not forget silence.
Let us now take a snapshot of the spectrum of consciousness and brain waves and how sound affects us on these levels.
Associated activity states
B.p.m of music
Affect on consciousness
In gymnasiums and fitness centres group exercise classes feature music with it very loud, it is fast paced, often called pump to mobilise the heart and get is beating. This music had moderate to fast B.P.M’s , (beats per minute), the rate of measure which we also use to measure heart rhythm. Standard rock and pop music sits at 120 b.p.m. It can exceed this and dance music’s such as techno often use b.p.m’s that can exceed 160-180 bpm; and it is claimed up to 300b.p.m,( Wikipedia) at which it has exceeded the maximum rate possible by a healthy athlete. The heart can only beat at a certain rate beyond that we are at risk or cardiac arhythmias, and even heart attack. While we may entrain to sub divisions of metre and beat, I do believe it is most dangerous to the living organism and causes immense stress. This creates a forced resonance, a biological entrainment in which we are then harmonised through activity and match it on a cellular level – we get pumped, pumped by sound and blood. This physical level activity beginning with increased heart and respiration, changes the brain waves state. Yet this music is not always in harmony with the human organism, there is a type of rhythm called ‘anapaestic’ which runs contrary to the natural heart rhythm (Halpern , 1985p 138). Where we do not wish to be so affected it can cause anxiety, panic attacks, depression, irritability, anger , fear, and trigger post traumatic stress. In essence it can trigger physical level issues and mental emotional level response/ disturbance. I have recently encountered research where technologies are being created, sold and potentially employed for crowd control by Security companies Police and Military which use infrasound, low frequency sound (beyond the range of human audition 20hz) to induce behavioural change by inducing nausea and other unpleasant symptoms. This marks a disturbing use of this knowledge .
There are many variables within the music that affect the rate, the resonance and the resultant brainwave states and heart/ breath rhythms. Amongst these are instrumentation, tempo, rhythm, key, melody, drone, and the nature of the sound the technology that produced it. The consciousness of the creator is also crucial with intent (Goldman, J) transmitted in the music.
By far the most significant of these is rhythm and tempo. Rhythm tends to engage the physiology, the heart and muscles and any tempo matching or exceeding the hearts rate, will increase brain waves to beta range, yet there is also potential to go into trance states at higher levels. Tempos more in alignment with a heart rate at rest and musics with minimal or no marked rhythmic pulse/ beat will relax the human organism and lower brain wave states to alpha rhythms and possibly theta affecting all other biological rhythms. Those affected are the heart rate, the breath or respiration and the brain wave state as measured in hz. Any physiological change will affect the whole being, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
The spectrum of consciousness covers the many and varied states of being from coma, lethargy, to sleep, to relaxation, daydreaming, ecstasy, out of body, revelry, visioning, meditation, trance, peak performance, E.S.P,and all in between, mystical rapture. Randall Mc Clellan (1991) details a thorough table in The Healing Forces of Music which considers the aspects related to music and healing and states of consciousness detailing where research has been done as at 1991 and 2000, about the effects of different musics on the human being. These studies are continuing by researchers at this time.
This is just a snapshot of the reality of the effects of music on the person and on their consciousness. The use of music for state change is an ancient technology used all around the world by Tribal and Indigenous cultures, with drumming and chant. The Hindi have mantras and ragas, the West has Gregorian Chant, choir and Symphonic, now also electronic music’s and technologies, ancient Egypt and Greece have the Lyre and Flutes, the middle east Drums and stringed instruments and quarter tones. Asia has Buddhist chants and mantras, bowls and gongs, trumpets and rattles, all of these are employed in state change. Australia has the uniqueness of the Didgeridoo, chant and rhythm sticks. Ice Age bone Flutes have been found , dating back 35-40, 000 years which demonstrates how long we have sought to express ourselves and relate through musical phrasing (Mannes, E 2009).
Knowing that these sound and music technologies, tools and instruments exist, gives us the ability to select & play music that supports our desired states.Many authors have written about this in details giving charts of various composers and styles to guide one along. Music is supreme in conjuring imagery. When I compose I go on journeys. From the earliest childhood memories music has conducted this function for me, as transporter of consciousness. I used to experience scenery and visions and be transported to other times and places, I would have movies within my mind. Some may say this was a kind of dislocated O.B.E experience, or voyaging in other consciousness energy bodies, as in shamanic voyages to other realities, or maybe what would fall under the umbrella of a guided imagery type experience. It depends on whether one goes off off, or stays with the body, or enters dream type altered states. It does not really matter how it is defined. I would certainly loosen the shackles of the physical very easily and be off somewhere, listening to the early electronic pioneers such as Jean Michelle Jarre or Tangerine Dream. I would feel things and tap in to archetypal levels and spiritual dimensions from an early age. A whole field of Therapeutic Music was created called Guided Music and Imagery by Helen Bonny, which as far as I understand it, uses mainly classical music to evoke memory and response, this journey is then processed with the help of a facilitator / therapist. such responses and journeys should not be limited to classical. film score brilliantly evokes such responses as does a lot of new age and electronic, instrumental or minimal music.
So whether through rhythm in tribal cultures, or drones in Hindu and overtones in Buddhism, or the sublime melodies of the west or Middle East; Music is the ship which transports our consciousness. It is vehicle for our journey, it’s power is unlimited, for reaching the far off places, the foreign, often forgotten shores, of recessed memory .
To conclude our topic, ‘Music and consciousness voyages, facilitating altered states ’-armed with a little fundamental knowledge, we have greater awareness and greater responsibility as to how we use music and sound and an understanding of phenomena from an energetic level, a field effect level, in which nothing is isolated, but all permeates in shared space. We come to know that we are vibratory beings in a vibratory world and there are many tools at our disposal in the form of instruments, voice, tools, techniques, sonic technologies and compositions that can aid our state of health and alter our state of consciousness at will. This can be a self directed activity though is not to be undertaken lightly. Employing sonic technologies that may change ones brain wave state and state of consciousness’ would be inadvisable whilst driving or in need of a high level of alertness operating machinery etc. Use common sense, Safety is always paramount and education falls more and more to the self in our ever changing world. To truly heal one needs to become one’s own physician, as the great master Jeshua said. If you are ill however, see a physician and seek out qualified practitioners. We cannot do all things alone, a team effort is often necessary. This is not to be taken as medical advise and no responsibility is accepted in relation to acting on this text. It is educational of nature. You must seek your own way on your own journey.
This is but a brief snapshot of an area where one could write many volumes. Below is a list of references on the matter. I was prompted to write about it because of my personal experience and what has become an area of fascinating research for me i for the last 18 years, in which I am finding confirmation in every volume I read of my intuitions and theories. Sound Healing research is a growing field, in which scientific confirmation and cross disciplinary studies is continuing daily, linking up with many ancient cultures areas of sacred knowledge and teachings. Sound Music and Health is an area that I am now starting to run classes about in the community, in relation to the Healing Arts and Sound Healing practises. Be well. Listen to the body it is both vessel and teacher.
Bonny,H 1980, Guided Music and Imagery.
Brennan ,B.A 1987Hands of Light, Bantam Books, United States Of America.
Brennan, B.A 1993,Light Emerging, Bantam books, New York, U.S.A.
Emoto, M 2004, The Hidden Messages in Water, Beyond Words Publishing, Inc Oregon U.S.A.
Emoto, M 2005,The True power of Water, Beyond Words Publishing, Inc Oregon U.S.A.
Halpern, S &Savary,L 1985,Sound Health The music and sounds that make us whole, Harper and Row Australia.
Hughes,M.W 1904, The Eidephone voice Figures, , Christian Herald Company, Ltd, London
Jenny,H 1967 & 2001, Cymatics, A study of Wave Phenomena and Vibration, Macromeida Publishing, U.S.A.
Mannes, E 2009,The Music Instinct Science and Song, DVD Mannes Productions Inc, PBS Distribution.
Mc Clellan,R 1991-2000, The Healing Forces Of Music, , toExcell iUniverse.com Inc, U.S.A.
Schaefer, R.M,1977-1994,The Soundscape- Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of The world, Destiny Books, Vermont, U.S.A.
Wu,S 2001, Musical Qi Gong Ancient Chinese Healing Art from a Modern Master, Hona And Sekey books, New Jersey U.S.A.
JUST AS THE BODY IS THE RECORD FOSSILIZED
© Catherine Meeson 7.11.2012
Our humanity is reflected in our Voice, in its totality. We can act, pretend, deceive self, and play as if, but the voice will always contain subtle hints as to the truth and integrity of one’s communications.
Communications are more than words. Words convey meaning, yet words have many meanings symbolically and in association with; beyond dictionary definitions and social constructs. An ‘Owl’ for us all, is different.
The Voice is a product of bodily process, and demonstrates an incarnate being. It conveys will and intent, emotion and force, and carries with it a barrage of accumulated Psyche. The process of finding and freeing the voice to express its longing can take time. Whether or not the voice is free to express and embody the consciousness of the moment depends on so many factors. Upbringing, culture, era.
The fact that the Voice holds longing, can be heard in the tone, in the fluctuation and breaking of registers, in the passage of breath, choice of words, emotional state mirroring, bodily armouring. The voice is a complex creature. It is the product, the result of the totality of our life experience.
Just as the body is the record fossilized; within the human being, can be found many aspects and many voices, each with their own dynamic, story, sense of characterisation, bodily resonance, and message. Through entertaining and expressing these voices, we can integrate complex psychic material and proceed along the path of varied creative expression. Whether the aim is Process and healing /wholeness or Product /Performance, or for any other reason, the Voice, will open tender doorways and doorways encrusted with bracken and highly padlocked.
Explorations based purely upon the sound and feeling can be immensely transformative, and also make one very vulnerable. Yet to strip away words and explore the energetics and dynamics of the psyche can be incredibly healing. Words can contain and define, but they can also hinder and limit. Tone can act as bridge to foreign lands with lush forests and riches unknown.
The Cathartic Voice, holds a key of profound wisdom. Cath being also a woman’s name (mine lol), meaning Pure. So In this sense Cath –arc- tic,is the pure voice that has been left out in the cold. The voice that has gone off on a tangent and produced physiological tics, symptoms of discord and lack of congruence with self. This leaves us needing to reintegrate it. It is also the pure art, the art of pure expression, of truthful unity with ones unconscious, freed from the restraints of familial, social, cultural conditioning or personal criticism.
In my process I have been able to clearly perceive the aspects and voices related to stages of development as spoken about by Barbara Brennan in Hands of Light. At any given time a person expresses ‘Voice’ from different energy centres/ chakric levels, which govern different biological and psycho spiritual processes. Each seven year cycle involves the learning of, expression and control of different functions. A child of 5 differs greatly to a 16 year old or a 69 year old. In this sense feelings and thoughts are related to age, comprehension and experience. They are expressed through language (voice), and are not only localised within the brains neurological /biochemical operations shell, but are emanations with tangible life force that can be perceived in the human energy field and around objects. Any and all cellular matter becomes imbued with psychic force content, this is what is able to be read in psychometry processes. That is what is behind a martial artists kiya.
Our voice can get stuck at many different stages of development, depending on our life journey. Recognising this and owning the voices of those periods, enables a greater integration and healing to occur and results in a Whole human being.
The more voice is suppressed, the greater the psychic force that builds and accumulates. Then the energy field starts to clutter, dysfunctions can occur and literally crystallise over time into the cellular matrix in the form of many of the physical psychosomatic complaints. What one perceives in these conditions, is the souls consciousness movement between bodies and the discord in ones being. One is not clear. Deeply repressed voice can give rise to cancers and other conditions.
Voice is not only about lovely qualities. True voice holds the totality of human being, darkness and light and is the key to the great transformation and transmutation of the lower impulses of humanity. The sooner we ‘Voice’, in an arena of compassion and tolerance, with transparency, the sooner we will Integrate our collective shadow and move on into the unlimited potential that awaits us all, as a conscious choice every day. Yet choice can only truly be conscious when we unite the repressed material that has become the content of the unconscious, the shadow realms, into the light of day. In this regard I would regard Pathologies as the result of extreme blockage and stuckness, or malfunction within the field at a biological, emotional, mental, or spiritual level. The truth for me behind the great spiritual disciplines and revealed ‘Words’ is to evolve us to the point, that no matter the stuff of life that occurs, how it affects us physically, emotionally, and mentally, can be dealt with by the spiritual being at the helm of the Boat, whom is ever transcendent and connected to the Unity of Life= God source.
See the Writings of Paul Newham for more information. Many authors write on such specialisations.
An example of this within my own work is a character whom I am developing Performance Art works with, whom evolved as a representation of a feeling state, a way to embody the totality of experience related to a medical condition I walked with a long time (Hep C), and muhc of the psycho- social stigma associated with that, called the Beggar Woman. There are videos of her in action on my Youtube channel Catherine Meeson (see link logo above right). With her I have been able to explore aspects of voice related to shadow, shame, repression, suffering, scape-goating, social stigma and physical pain. She has of course become a great deal more, she epitomises the Old Wise Woman, Crone, as well as Prophetess. Through her I am able to approach things that socially may be frowned upon, I can critique and express my displeasure, frustrations and laments about the state of the world, about the practises and norms of Western culture, using Parody and elements of Satire. Given the current state of affairs in the world, we are not always able to express our displeasure and giving voice in methods such as these, can be the perfect antidote to when a Political system represses the will of the people as witnessed in the Occupy Movement protests, where many Voices emerged and where heard and then as quickly as they erupted, were again silenced by enforced removal of persons gathering in Public Places.
So you see the Voice is a dynamic tool of mighty potential. With it worlds are made and destroyed. How you choose to embrace your voice, depends upon you, do not allow the limits of the Society in which you live to silence, for this breeds suffering. In the end it is about finding the right Arena for our voice, note the word ‘Arena’ a space which is capable of holding our voice, our actions, a space which opens up possibility; and the ‘area’ the mass, potential of our being. What then is The Mass Potential of Our Voice? Revolution.
Link to My You Tube Channel
Article by Catherine Meeson © 20111 & 2015
Everyone appreciates music. The why that we do so varies, but the vast majority of people have a love of the ability to vocalise, make sounds and create pleasing patterns of sounds. We do this from birth naturally. Before it becomes music it is sound. Yet the experience and perspective on what music is, is entirely subjective. The chirping of a bird, the rumbling of a train upon the tracks, the play of children in the playground. These things have inherent musical nature, as they contain rhythms, patterns, tones, they are all utterances, uttered from slightly different types of beings- human, animal and mechanical.
We are now able to incorporate all of these sounds into musical forms. Many modern instruments are types of machines, especially within the electronic domain, they contain synthetic parts, circuit boards, knobs, and levers, wiring, which are constructed into wholes for a common purpose. Even that concept is musical, because music its self is about relationships, about harmony and relatedness of parts and wholes.
Sounds are an abundant phenomena, even within the seeming silence. It has been said the World is Sound (Nada Brahma). It is a very complex system of evocation and vocalisation. It is not necessary to have vocal chords to produce sound or music. Crickets do it with their wings, bees their wings in flight, the wind with its’ movement and the interplay with the environment. Water with its’ passage against the rocks or shoreline. The fridge produces its hum from its’ motor and from the transmission of energy, the force involved in it’s mechanics coming to life, the 60 hz hum. A bell is struck; it does not sound alone. Most sounds need something to receive them, the air, the water, mass or something to act upon them. Then there is the domain of will and intent, the ability to initiate because the desire and ability is there to produce, the word/ sound.
The battle for dominance and power has always involved sound, battle cry’s, primal expressions, now it is bombs and guns, or the tearing of space with planes that fly at the speed of sound. Sounds arrest our attention, our ear instinctively responds, we can not deny or inhibit it or shut it down. It has been proven that when we sleep our hearing faculty remains active, processing the environment in which we dwell. Sound surrounds and encompasses space, but just as quickly as it comes, it goes. It’s vibrations pass into and through, sometimes absorbed, sometimes reflected, resonated and amplified. Sound interacts with it’s environment. Sound is.
Our modern world is a sensory bombardment zone. We do not seem to have conscious choice. Everywhere we are exposed to sound. The norm is to have sound playing everywhere in the consumer world, as music drives cultural identification and stimulates behaviours and can be used to manipulate an unaware public. Train stations, at home, mobile phones, the internet, television, planes, automobiles, all forms of transport . The internet silently transmits the signal which magically we make audible again at the receiving end. Music transports our consciousness.
The point being, we are enveloped, but we Do have choice. We can choose what to tune into and out. To seek silence is crucial for health, to know one’s own thoughts and mind, one’s own feelings and heart. We are conditioned and absorbed into our cultural norms and it is not until insight dawns or we are otherwise taught that we realise we can shut it out for our health, and choose what we will give our attention and ears to. It is a bit of the old see no hear no speak no. It is essential.
Just as much as the silence is essential, is our own ability to sound and resound. Silence and sound are partners in health, the yin and yang of sonic phenomena. We have many words to describe sound making, din, racket, cacophony, symphony, serenade, song, sizzle, swoosh, thump, bang, screech, overture, melody, rhythm, harmony etc. I bet you could think of many descriptive terms. Each has objective and subjective meaning and resonance, but they are all shared. A beautiful bath of sound for one irritates and jangles the nerves of another. The pounding bass at a fast rate faster than the aroused heartbeat, at incredulous volumes, is damaging to the ears and organs and literally hits one like a good hard thump in the guts. Such activity produces unease within the nervous system and hyper states that can not be sustained, the human heart rate can only ascend so much, and beyond that it is downright dangerous. Our world and being are vibratory in nature. It seems the louder we go the louder we want it to go . Thankfully along the road we have learnt a thing or two about Sound, Music and Health. There are elements everyone can employ without too much background or training to increase their health and well being. ‘Understanding the effects of the sonic environment on the nervous system, psyche and total health is not beyond the grasp of most people. Most people know intuitively and respond so.
We have likes and dislikes. This is our first guide, though sometimes stretching the boundaries to incorporate other musical tastes and styles is just what the doctor should order. We may grow up only with pop, be aroused all the time- unable to relax and be receptive to finer states of relaxation. In such instances one could be prescribed classical, ambient or new age music. In contrast a person whom only listens to easy listening and is depressed, morose and lacking physical vitality could do with a dose of Latin or middle eastern dance rhythms, to enliven , get the heart rate up and stimulate activity. This will naturally produce a change in the state of the being. One could also suggest songs with lyrics that touch on the core of the issues to help stimulate emotional connection, response and release, that could be the perfect antidote. A person who’s work environment plays music all the time to mask the Industrial rumble; could benefit from some ambient music, or silence infused with rustling leaves, frogs and birds to sooth the jangled desensitized nerves and ear cilia. A few days in a cottage by the sea could be the remedy for one struggling with relationship endings, needing solace and emotional release.
Sound is a primary force phenomena as our physics tell us, it is a waveform. It affects the particles of air and matter around it, it creates form (cymatics). It stimulates movement and entrainment (the coming into synchronisation and harmony with). It resonates and affects matter. Matter of the body, soul, emotions, mind and spirit, and subtle bodies.
So what use is all this? We can create guidelines for the conscious selection of music and sound for health. Being mindful of how sound, and music affect us personally, is the best place to begin educating our selves. To be sound is to be whole. To resound is to express that wholeness and being.
We can engage in soundwork practises to resonate the body, mind, spirit and shift blockages. We can massage our insides with sounds, sooth our nerves, raise our heartbeat, slow our brainwave state to enhance learning and relaxation. We can stimulate the imagination, enhance immune responses, increase our energy and come into union with the divine. We can release emotion and trauma. We can do many things with sound and music for health.
BASIC GUIDELINES FOR CHOOSING MUSIC AND SOUND FOR HEALTH
Increase tempos to above 8o beats per minute (the pace of the music and heartbeat)
This has applications physically for integration, physical activity getting grounded and earthed. Also any shift here will affect the other bodies and states of being, ie emotional, mental, spiritual energetic.
Decrease tempos to below 80 - 60 bpm for further relaxation (choose music with slower or minimal percussive elements) and to promote the stimulation of lower brain wave states such as Alpha and theta which are states conducive to relaxation, healing, enhanced learning and memory retention. Caution DO NOT do this whilst driving or operating machinery, one needs to be in a safe environment. Trust your feelings and your body sense and energy fields. You will know what is instinctively good for you.
Take head of warnings about sound levels and be moderate when listening to live or amplified sound. Wear plugs. It can exceed safe levels very quickly causing hearing damage, nervous system over stimulation, producing hyper states and excessive adrenalin thereby producing fight flight response patterns with bio-physiological changes.
Seek out nature and attune to the sounds of the natural world, the planet, water, wind, insects, birds, the frequencies they produce are at volumes very life affirming and are completely organic. If you cannot access physical space, seek out recorded musics with these sounds, the internet has many such resources available to download or order.
Develop awareness of your sonic environment, what is there? Remember you can turn down, tune out, remove, and relocate the source of irritation or yourself at times. Communicate with any problematic noise producing persons/ situations (if you can) and try negotiate a pleasing outcome for both parties. You can take positive affirming action.
Appreciate sound and music from other cultures, they stimulate thought, feeling and the body and spirit in ways that our own indigenous styles do not and open one up to the larger human community, enhancing empathy and relatedness.
Appreciate sound and music are not only about entertainment and monopoly, they are primal expressions, original creative impulses, they have a sacred dimension in all our cultures before this materialistic age. They are a way of being in tune with self and the divine source. Music creation comes from the core of human beingness.
Develop your inner ears, the ears of discernment. Listening is about a lot more then what is audible. To listen is to perceive directly the essential natures of things and relationships between things. This involves the heart, the will, the spirit. Listening is multi-leveled; yet it involves the ability to comprehend; and comprehension is something that comes in stages at certain ages of human development. It is the getting of wisdom and this is, our life’s journey. Coming to know the self and realising the unity of all beings in Creation.
To Resound and be sound
To know The silence within,
Is the source of all knowledge
The field of the One.
That which births into time
Resounds within the all
Sound Is the expression of eternal becoming.
Blessings Catherine Meeson 20 2 2011
©CATHERINE MEESON 20.9.2013
Avolokiteshvara the Buddhist Avatar of Compassion is known for their role in listening to and responding to the cries of the world. And within this philosophical And cultural framework is the notion of the bodhisattva, a being on the path to buddhahood that embodies the teachings of the dharma and the commitment to love and serve all species all life. This is one of the beautiful flowers of the cultural garden, a distinct sounding symphony originating from within the Orient.
The Indigenous of most nations are known for their roles as Keepers of Lore and traditions which place emphasis on the role of listening, heeding the voice of all relations. They know that their actions effect the generations to come and consider this is all actions. They have always strived to live in balance and close to their conception of the creator and guiding beings/ ancestors. This worldview is embodied in sayings such as In La kech, I am another yourself, and Miyayuke, Oyasin for all my generations for the next seven generations, as I understand. These are other flowers in the cultural garden of being, keynotes of the larger symphony, from many places around the globe, the Nth and Sth Americas, Africa, Australia, Alaska, are the many voices of cultural wisdom saying the same things, but in different ways.
The symphony of Oneness is an expression of the life of Planet Earth, the sounds of time- An Interspecies soundscape. Acoustic ecologists( a field of study currently inspiring me), speak of the voices of the natural world as geophony (sounds of earth, wind, water, volcanoes, etc), biophony( the sounds of animals and I wonder plants?), and anthrophony (the sounds originating from mankind or in relation to our activities and inventions). The Soundscape is the total sounds of place at any given time.
Our current predicament suggests our Orchestra of being, of harmonious relationship is out of order, out of tune, out of key. The voices of anthrophony reign supreme, the voices of biophony fade as habitat is lost and monetary value eclipses relational worth. The sounds of geophony, are regarded as non essential for survival , not so core in our educated industrialised paradigm. We are not dwelling in caves anymore, so why listen for predators, or howling winds heralding storms, (maybe we are the predators?). We block out , we tune out, we choose ‘to what; we will attune. But do we ignore our ancient instincts oriented around sound, and bring about our collective destruction in our haste to live the modern life and not take heed of the ancient knowings? Do you enjoy the voice of birds? How does the sound of the ocean make you feel? What of the sounds within a forest? Do you hear them or do you have plugs in the ears to generate your own sound cocoon? I do it , many do it. How often do we do it? How often do you have conversation with others? Are they physically present of virtual? Being needs being.
We are the dominant species , but our domination is destroying ourselves and all life. Realisation is the key, yet can only come through love and balanced relation with. Consciousness is able to ascend into greater aspects of being, as the capacity to love all and serve all grows within us, we understand; but for many it is very hard to attend to this knowing these exalted levels of being if we are bound to survival in our daily lives. It is not impossible to act on realisation in such a circumstance but much more harder, requiring different aspects of human ingenuity ; one thing that we are very good at. If knowledge is confined only to a discipline how can its teachings, its realizations benefit the collective . Realization is intrinsic to being, yet the specifics like pieces of the pies or atoms of the molecule, needs translating into the many tongues of the human community, of the common humanity. Therefore it is the responsibility of those that do understand , who do have aspects of knowledge that relate to the whole to be stewards of all life, to act from great beneficence and to be the voice of sanity to the policy makers, economists, those of might and power within the halls of high courts, who hold the reigns of civilisation tight.
The symphony will play on regardless of our efforts, for we are not its only players, yet we are fast eclipsing the players who do not conform to our vision of reality, (other life forms, the Indigenous nations, third world etc)., the symphony of wilful egoist greed. We need to be guided by love and the higher principles common in all cultures. Principles of order, and relation. Symphony members come and go, their skill levels voice and performative capacity vary. They have different hearing capacity, occupy different places in life and within the frequency domain., At times for many reasons being s, players; become dissonant as a result of misuse of knowledge motivated by greed. There can be no one unity of being within such diversity of population when the ground of being is cast aside- the fundamental of our symphony, which allows us to sound, to be Sound and to perceive sound; as earth and the elements within it which allow sound to propagate. We abuse these elements and therefore ourselves. We are all related, we are all made of the same cell stuff, the elements which constitute life on earth have been found elsewhere in the universe, of course!
Just because we can does not mean we should. Our modern Symphony conductors are economists, and corporations, military and governments, who manipulate the masses and the elected governments with their resources. The songs that they sing, the tunes, alluring like the Pied Piper of Hamelin- appeal to the base instincts, appeal to the essential needs, the senses, and there you then have people as a “Maestro manipulating music and matter alike”.
This may appear cynical, it sort of comes with age, but it is a perspective on our collective predicament, a specie hood critique if you will, of which I also am a player. I endeavour and many like me, to play a symphony all will like, where all are welcome because the concert is never ending, and the tickets are free.
The Symphony of Oneness an Interspecies Soundscape is the reality of the Sound world of Planet Earth. It’s nature changes over large spans of geological time. Change- modulation is a constant on the systemic level, but when human agency has wrought in 200-300 years changes which will echo on in the valleys of future mountain ranges of earth for millennia, what are we to do?. The modes of thought that got us here are what need to change, our view of reality our fundamental sonic , upon which all of our assumptions are built and that sonic is our modern civilization, the flower of the model from Ancient Greece, and Rome. If we truly understood the nature of what we were doing , if we heard clearly, we would realise the need to rewrite our symphony at the level of players and actors, actions and directions for our collective species hood orchestra.
We must step outside ourselves for a while and step into the feet of other species, into the cell, the soul of the world. The trunk of the tree growing, the wings of the bees labouring for the Queen. There would be no toxic pesticides in my colony. Everywhere in the natural world supreme order and harmony of relations is mirrored, is sounded, is sung in the dance of the symphony that modulates between concord and discord.
The collective stories and myths of the Great flood, the tale Of Noah, tells us we have not changed much, each round our desire nature must be transmuted, or great change will make us. We become as children, forget the high ways of civilization before , and we progress down the same road manifest in a different way. Noah embodied the repository of wisdom, listening to guidance and making preparations,, and realizing the bigger picture is worth labouring for. He became , so we are told; steward to all life, protector; his role was to be the arc reaching from the old world to the new, the one to come after reconfiguration, after cataclysm. The world was repopulated so we are told, species hood again evolved and diversified. We had had great loss , we had better make sure we remembered into the future, so how will we do it, Through art, story, song, myth, all over the world..
But what we stand to lose this time is immense, whether through just human agency or the forces of larger spans of geological change sped up, Do we think our sciences are evolved enough to re engineer?, revive all life forms because we have genetic repositories, because we are mapping genomes? I don’t think we are that far along yet, despite the science. We are still Mr Frankenstein in the lab making monsters, like Monsanto cross breeding species and forms, waiting for the results of future mutations and experiments to get out of hand. What would these species sound like? Are we to be the progenitors of tomorrows symphony, do we even deserve to be? Do we know what divine will is? Do we know what it will sound like fifty years from now, a question Murray Schafer asked? Maybe it will just be a gentle wind blowing over the bones of the forgotten race. A slight melodic variation, due to holes in the bones of the humans. Maybe distant visitors will come, and reseed the earth and clean it up, maybe their knowledge and capacity to love is greater.?
The collective will of all species is to life. Most people given the facts and the truth, if it is within their ability to understand, will choose the will to life. To love to harmony. It is the great composers who govern the collective symphony as revealed in the daily song, the yearly and future forecast levels of governance that must be brought to account. They orchestrate the belief systems and social fabric, the norms entombed in the courts of the land as Law. The gnosis transmitted in the schools. They is us. The laws were revealed by all great teachers in all cultures . The laws are revealed in nature herself. If we have indeed been nurtured, seeded from realms above and beyond this one, what is it that you think the higher forms of intelligence would want for us? What would the gods? Angels,? Avatars say, now? How would they guide us?
Haven’t they all along? Is it us who fail to understand the message and listen? Maybe the greatest teachers are those species around us who sacrifice themselves so that we may come to realization and knowledge. And within it, what symphony will we play into the future? Will it be a symphony of Oneness?
I do hope so.
Blessings Catherine Meeson
© Catherine Meeson 2012-2015
We need to move beyond the paradigm of the traditional composer whom in their day and age gave voice to a Sonic Domain via the Orchestra. Expanding our definition of composing to include not only conventional Instrumentation and timbres but that of the global sonic reality, both the human domain and non human worlds. The world is the nosiest it has ever been ( well maybe next to the mountain building volcanic past). A multitude of solo sonic seekers stand poised daily, recording sounds and offering them up for Creative Commons usage to be sonically orchestrated.
Not all of us learnt to read or write music.
Before notation was listening and experimentation. Before notation was master and disciple in some cultures.
Before masters were many voices, and soulful utterance, experimentation and human ingenuity giving rise to early instruments, voice, drums, flutes and the spaces in which the audible was heard which were just as much part of the sound, as the instruments themselves.
Culture and place diversify. Time and tide cross fertilize . The results are a rich sonic array of possibilities for the 21st century in which the “sonic orchestrator” (CM), can represent concepts, themes, ideas, abstractions. We can also embody knowledge and codify universal laws to be transmitted regardless of cultural origin via sound.
A Sonic Orchestrator makes sense out of cacophony and creates order out of chaotic voicing’s. He / she allows their palette to expand purposefully and intentionally signalling a creative adaptation of the old guard; not to replace it, but to synthesize it and with it, to integrate and offer more. To build a bridge between the worlds. The ancient worlds, the European classical world, the modern rock and pop world, and the electronic worlds of sample and synthesis. The Sonic Orchestrator may also attend to the model and ethics of the ancients regarding the use of sound, knowing its effects.
I believe we have sound designers working alongside composers but not necessarily one and the same,. Maybe they are sometimes in the motion picture world. How fascinating it would be to be part of a team like that. Sounds designers work on special sonic effects and recording simulations of real world things or out of this world sounds producing those mind bending signature sounds that get etched in the collective memory as the “Pod racer of Annakin Skywalker for eg.
Eg of the Master Sonic Orchestrator John Williams at work, one whom has influenced the deepest recesses of my being with his rich dramatic scores; that even if they were not composed and synchronised with moving image would stand alone creating their own synaesthesia experience.
The Sonic Orchestrator is not limited to score. The tools of trade now are not only instruments, but include all technology, digital synthesis and computing power, giving us second and third brains to fulfill our vision and stretch our sonic boundaries, way out there into the vastness of space. Some level of music theory is advantageous but not even necessary any more. Studies have demonstrated that our neurological wiring process and acculturation occurs within the first few years, after which time we have absorbed the fundamental sonic, the tonalities if you like, of our cultures, and the rules of its cultural musical expressions. This encodement goes beyond training, it becomes part of our gene pool, literally getting transmitted to the next generation for potential nurturing and awakening.
So the Sonic Orchestrator is not bound only by ones place and culture of origin. He or she is at ones best when adaptable and flexible to allow the influences of other systems to be internalized and comprehended, allowing a greater creative fertilization potential to occur. The ancient mode can be transplanted using contemporary voices, and real world samples, or conceptual abstract synthesis and design to create a representation, sonically, audibly and psychologically, of an event space occurrence, or a moment indeed of time and space itself. Sound is an expression of time and space.
Representation is nothing new to the worlds orchestrators, they have always sought to portray story, event, myth, feeling, mood, time, idea, etc. There are no limits in true composition. I really do like the title of a Sonic Orchestrator, it is much more aligned with the times, than just musician, therefore I feel I fit the title well with my playing, but then so do we all.
Some of my favourite Sonic orchestrators over time are John Williams and Tangerine Dream , but today I leave you with a link to some of my favourite conceptual orchestrations.
Gustav Holst- the Planets
Tangerine Dream- Alpha Centauri
Jean Michell Jarre- Oxygene 2 Live
Maurice Jarre, Jean Michelle's father wrote the Soundtrack to the Epic Laurence of Arabia- Theme piece
Enigma Live- Gregorian
WHEN WORDS FAIL INSTRUMENTS SAVE THE SOUL xxx Catherine
By Catherine Meeson © August 2014
TAPPING THE ANCIENT INSTINCTS TO REVEAL ESSENTIAL TRUTHS.
WHAT DOES SOUND OR THE LACK OF TELL US?
How does sound reflect the community of life?
The presence of sound is a revelation, a revelation of relationship. It demonstrates what is and what is not. What is active and what is passive. It demonstrates ecological balance or lack of. It presents a picture of the life of a given region , or globally of the world. It presents the preoccupations and outcomes of its inhabitants, and of the earths primary causative agents and forces. What does sound tell us? Listen. What does the lack of tell us? Listen. Take heed, come to our senses. Sounds are a prime creative force, a tool of creation. We must ask what is sound creating, what is sound revealing? How does sound reflect the community of life. I will only narrate a version of events, as I see it. The seeing is up to you, the realisation is up to you. I can do no more than sound and resound the voices of the world which wish to be heard.
Scenario 1. 3am and one is awoken by the howling wind, raising the tin roof and slamming it back down again. Distant dogs bark, and an eerie sense of the ominous pervades, am I safe one considers? One feels on edge. It is just the wind. Hope the roof holds and the trees down fall on the house. The mind races into scenarios, movies play out in one’s mind, the brain cycles faster sleep does not return.
Scenario 2. 4 o’clock in the afternoon, looking forward to the end of the working day, a jackhammer starts just out the front. One jumps out of their skin, on edge, not only is it loud, one can literally feel it through ones feet. Uneasy, irritable and angry and has trouble finishing ones required duties. Is one safe? Objectively yes, there is not threat, but the peace and quiet is gone, the headroom necessary for work. Yet why does the body still respond when the mind knows there is no physical threat to ones person? For sound is implicated in our survival at the deepest levels.
‘Sound acts as portal, sense as signifier’. Barry Truax called “Sound Signifier of relationship”, in his brilliant work Acoustic Communication (1). R Murry Schafer before him did an extensive study of the world soundscape in his pioneering book ‘The Soundscape’ (2). Both men helped establish a field of study into nature of sound and its influence on the sphere of all life in a field called Acoustic Ecology. Acoustic Ecology as I understand it examines and reflects upon the relationships between aspects of local ecologies, places and the sounds inherent within and produced by them. Another member of the field Bernie Kraus, penned the terms Anthrophony, biophony and geophony. Geophony examines the sounds of earth, water, wind, earthquake etc etc. Biophony:- the sounds of animals. Anthrophony:- the sounds of persons and the technologies and artifacts created by humans.
We have come to understand the inherent link between sound and health and how sound impacts the body mind and spirit of all orders of being. Studies exist demonstrating the effects of thought, intention, spoken song, vibrations, frequencies, wavelengths both sub and infrasonic on living beings and matter states. From plants to animals, water, people and other inorganic matter. Studies also demonstrate sounds negative and positive effects and its primordial link with survival. We would dismiss our innate body sense as an evolutionary artefact from a Neanderthal hunter gatherer era survival mode. But we need to take heed , as the world is becoming louder, mainly with discordant stress producing anthrophony, and the life enhancing sounds of biophony and geophony we have evolved with and their relationship to co evolutionary development are becoming more apparent, as they fade into memory. We are drowning out the natural world and causing ourselves immense stress, leading not only to hearing problems , but to nervous system, heart and stress related disorders, relationship problems, mental health issues such as anxiety, depression post traumatic stress etc. Yet what concerns me most is that everything is about us humans, and few are attending to the voice or place of other species , of their right to be within the web of life, and so they are, in increasing numbers fading into oblivion, ie, becoming extinct.
SOUND IS PORTAL TO OTHER WORLDS
It takes us through time, through memory into thought and feeling. Out of our body (physical) and into our energy bodies as well as initiating shamanic soul flight. It reveals the mysteries of creation of form (cymatics) and the geometries of creation. It’s visible affect exhibits pictures of consonance and dissonance in various matter states:- water , sand, plasma etc.
Sense as signifier tells us it is supreme storyteller, it teaches directly through our embodied form- our body. Our soul may comprehend or it may not. Yet even if it does not, the senses still signify, sound still acts as portal. We still receive, information at an unconscious and supra-conscious level.
Together sound as signal – is sound as revealer of source. Follow the sound reveal the source, reveal the nature of the created. Is the signal harmonious- is the sound in harmony with life? I ask for you to contemplate. Sound has already taught me many things and I will remain an eager student for the rest of my life.
Sound as portal takes us through the mists of time to previous civilizations and cultures, to perceive as they did for a time, as they encoded information and knowledge within the structures they built and occupied , instruments, dolmens, temples, architecture, adorned caves and ceremonial sites. This take us into the realm of archeo-acoustics and the supernatural. The archaeology of sound. Considering both the technologies of former times and the perceptions of the psyche of the living.
So What does sound or the lack of tell us? How does it reflect the community of life? If time is a construct of the congealing of forces in space what relevance does it have now?
For us now more than ever in history we need to tap the ancient instincts beyond the level of mind to reveal the essential truths, truths relevant to all orders of being. It is no good for the goose it is no good for the gander. We need to come to terms with what ‘is’ and reflect deeply, than we must act.
Our obsession for power as expressed through sound as well as other media knows no bounds. The consumer can now buy systems capable of producing exceptional wattage to power audio systems within homes and vehicles. Legislation does exist, to protect persons and property but is it being enforced? Where is the department responsible for sound damages. Where is the Ministry of Sound? Make no mistake sound creates and it also destroys, our legends tell us this, our modern science demonstrates. Our love for the loud and the pounding is assaulting not only us, but the community of life, and our actions in this context are immoral. Forests do not wish to be assaulted by screeching machines cutting down trees and blaring techno parties. Birds do not wish to be terrorized out of the trees. Who asks about what they hear, what they feel within their bodies? Who asks and understands that we affect their mating patterns, their instincts their home? I have gone to and played at these outdoor parties, yet no one I have met speaks for the community of life in such events. They are often not isolated in broadcast reach and they are taken into forests and places where wildlife exists and damage is done. People are literally sonically blasting their bodies, they are being levitated off the ground. In boom cars they are reconfiguring the cellular matter of their bodies by sonic assault. Once sound reaches a certain level it will kill. This is why the military and police forces have researched its affect and incorporated it into their arsenal as a non lethal crowd control mechanism. At certain frequency ranges and decibel levels it will cause harm, often temporary ranging from nausea, headaches etc, to extreme anxiety, trouble thinking etc. Normal functioning recommences when the sound generator is removed or turned off. It does not need to be audible, as the range of sound as a frequency goes both above and below the level of human beings and as such its hz cycle rate is only a small part of the sound/ frequency spectrum.
We want everything bigger and louder for our pleasure, more powerful, without thought without understanding the nature of power, of the nature of sound and its affect on living systems/ life. Sound can be potentially just as destructive as a bomb and expect the creation of weapons of war unthinkable as yet, for they will come .
And so what is sound or the lack of telling us? It is telling us to listen, it is demanding our attention, to listen beyond our species, to the great die off the sixth great extinction. It is indicating how we are affecting the community of life, as we grow parasitically as the dominant species changing the face of the earth. It is indicating how we are affecting the community of life through our actions. The sounds of severe weather events due to climate change could parallel the old gods displeasure. Storms cut over land to clear the air, waters cleanse by flood. What do they reveal? They reveal the attempt to rebalance and maintain homeostasis for the larger life support system that is the earth:- that of balanced relations. Sure the sounds of nature an catastrophe be natural phenomena , but with many different purposes when one questions the nature of being.
Life in native ecosystems or communities in health reveal a diverse range of voices, of sounds, dependent upon the local geography, topography, and climate, and the type of community it supports i.e., desert, river, forest, tropic, swamp, intertidal zone, deep ocean, etc. Once upon a time the gods were embodied and implicated in the sounds and health of the world around us. Pele Volcano goddess, Neptune the Sea God. Tempests , volcanic eruptions and other such demonstrations of natural phenomena were the displeasure of the gods. We know better now don’t we? In the rationalist post Darwinian era? There exists the term, anthropomorphosize to describe placing human or divine attributes upon things. An Angry father figure, a vengeful goddess, a mischievous Djinn. Our symbolic unconscious has always drawn associations that link between forces and things, that it did not comprehend rationally. I believe that in the dark mists of pre history we suffered major trauma of a sonic nature that have never fully left us The traumas are encoded in our genes. The knowledge of sound as agent of hurt as well as of healing is deep within the genome. Sonic warfare, warfare with sound as a by product, natural catastrophes such as 300db meteor strikes, so embedded into the realm of myth and scripture that now they only remain as stories that whisper of such times. But such times were, such times are such times be again, such times approach, times of tearing the sky in two, of earth being rent, of catastrophic force at the hands of the humans. Most of the predators are gone or controlled and restrained. We are the biggest predator subjecting the world to many warfares including sonic warfare as a by product of human activity. Everywhere the noise is incessant within the cities, the din (djinn) mischievous spirits of the machines grow louder by the day. Tales exist and dreams reveal the patterns of yesterday. Atlantis rises – the ether is penetrated, The akashic records open, the technologies poor onto the planet manifesting the mind of days gone by. We did not learn the lessons of misuse of power the same souls are reincarnate.
If we listen to place, place will tell us everything about it. What voices are present, what voices are dominant, what voices are absent? What dwells there, what no longer dwells? The tragedy of species loss revealed by sound, is not beyond our senses or our sensibilities, and surely not beyond the open compassionate collective heart. Enter sound as Portal- Sense as Signifier of Relationship.
If you would like to know more information about this or engage in dialogue please contact the Author
Truax, Barry 2001, Acoustic Communication , 2nd ed., Ablex Publishing, Westport, Conneticut, London.
Schafer, RM 1977, The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World, 1994 ed., Destiny books, Rochester, Vermont, United States.
Tame, D 1984, The Secret Power of Music- The Transformation of Self and Society Through Musical Energy, 2nd ed., the Aquarian Press, Wellingborough, Northhamptonshire.
NURTURE THE MUSICIAN WITHIN- YOUR AUTHENTIC VOICE AND WRITING STYLE
© Catherine Meeson 2010 & 2015
There are many ways we come to music. Some receive lessons from childhood, some take up an instrument of their own volition in their teen years, and some others decide in adulthood they always wanted to learn. Some couldn’t leave the pots and pans alone as children. Some cultures have music ingrained as a big part of their community: for some it is something that everyone partakes in, for others it is for the few. If we are all born with the same potential, one could claim it is a matter of the learning of skill and all training. But are some born with a more natural inclination, a more resonant disposition, a brain more able to synthesize musical pattern and relationships? Who can really say? What if they are more adept, the soul knowing from an early age what it wants to do?
Whether adept, savant, slow learner, sheet music virtuoso, ear oriented learner, experimenter, all have a master musician within them awaiting nurturing. The only difference that makes someone a good musician is time and effort. Someone who knows the essence and form of music from such a deep inner level, who comprehends relationships beyond rational knowledge. One whom is able to communicate and play from an intuitive level, attuned, resonant, unafraid of making mistakes. One able to know beyond ones instrument, able to write, compose complete pieces whether on sheet , by analogue equipment or electronically with software.
So what is ones Authentic Voice and writing style?
The 20th century saw a proliferation of immense diversity with the electronic age dawning and technologies infiltrating all spheres of creative life. Music has expanded beyond folk music’s and traditional music’s of the peoples, or of the classical European era. It is in the realm of the everyday. Manufacturing and Industry has led to the masses being armed with instruments of differing quality. This has given birth to the desires of successive generations of youth, feeding the urge to express, with the Age of Mass media and radio and now the internet proliferating. Migrations of people across the globe and the technologies of the 21st century opened the door, to the worlds music, the worlds sounds and the worlds instruments. A cross fertilisation of sounds, of styles, melodies, and rhythms; ways of using the voice, types of scales, and harmonic patterning. People took up the instruments of other cultures and the medium of money has allowed this. The age of transport and communications means there are no boundaries anymore, and if they do remain it is only within our ear and comprehension.
People learn as they always have- by ear, or from teachers, books and pictures, other from sheet. Now new generations are learning off You tube and online tutorials. The exposure to the sounds of the world, is ever increasing the ear of the listener, ever appreciating this richness and sonic diversity. No one can disclaim the fact that music has become one of the bedrocks of popular culture. We make machines to deliver it in our vehicles, to carry it with us. We like to have choice about our sonic environment in the ever increasing cacophony over which we have little control, called the masses and the machinations of progress. We are presented with sound and music in every shop, for it is used to sell, to entice, amuse and attract . It is a tool par excellence in arresting attention. With sight we can choose to look away, music to some degree we can turn down or off but not always. Not when it is thrust upon us by others who have little regard for peace and personal space. It booms out of cars, houses, shopping centres, Noise is everywhere. Even when we turn it down it still travels as a wave through the environment, with lesser wattage. Now there is an ever increasing presence within health centres, doctors, dentists etc even some work places, using Muzak to promote a variety of desired consumer/ clientele ends.
However this article is about Nurturing the Voice and methods of the Musician within. Whether trained or not in the formal sense we all have a master musician within. At birth we utter our first sound. Our pre language sounds are full of musical patterning and potential, they are known to be more archetypal type sounds common to all regardless of culture. Interval patterning is common, pentatonic pre empting is common world over. If these are sounds we can each make, then this is where the potential lay for each to develop this ability. The mother is a bestower of music, with lullabies and soothing melodies and songs. A Composition in the simplest sense is not much more than a few patterned voices, or sequences of sound, responding in relation to each other. They are accented differently by timbre, rhythm, intensity, dynamics, and placement within the whole score. A master musician learns the basics and then gives Self free reign improvising and exploring. The individual plays, the inner ear listens and selects. Each song or tune is a new relationship, a new discovery, a new way of relating, integrating organising and arranging the sonic elements that make up the song, score, soundscape or piece. Whatever we want to call it will depend upon it’s genre or style and it’s intended audience. We have systems and categories for everything, often they get in the way of simple appreciation of what is.
Stylistically certain patterns are represented and adhered to by practitioners of the style and genre. Obvious examples being the distinctions between blues, jazz, classical, rap., and more obscure sounds of Industrial or nerve wrenching Thrash Metal. There are the ‘rules’ of that form, of tempo, of keys, scales, rhythms, lyrical contents and patterning, that govern the work.
The Master Musician absorbs all this and moves beyond it. For they listen from within, it becomes part of the collective musical unconscious, that they have absorbed much throughout their life to now, to be able to output their own stylistic concept of 'a music'.
Everyone works differently- some hear and work it out, some experiment and improvise, some intend specifically, some work randomly chopping up bits and reassembling. Some capture spontaneously then craft, or not. Some seek to recreate or represent the work of another, or use formulas. All methods work, all are ok.
Whatever your methods- the authentic voice and writing style that is yours is what comes to you naturally. Some need a pointer in the right direction when beginning some guideline.. I certainly do every now and then, as my foundation is wonky. Others just begin, confident enough within themselves to learn as they go along. What is natural might not be easy, but often is. It is the voice that develops over time, a certain style with elements that can be heard to be distinctly yours. The way you express rhythms, the melodies, harmonies, the way one sings or plays, the lyrical content, the elements of form, the instrument choices that contribute to the sound. Be yourself, don't mimic others. People respond to authenticity.
Some work on paper, some at a keyboard, some must have a piano, affects, a drummer, a private room, a computer or virtual instruments. Some are pre-madonnas, some are relaxed. Some write alone, some work best with others, with collective input. We are each a master musician in embryo form awaiting the spark, the fuel to start our own internal creative process. Once it is lit, we must flow, we must follow, we must tend. An authentic voice cannot emerge if neglected, visited only every now and then. The authentic voice thrives on attention. Another aspect in my opinion, is not about technical proficiency or skill, It is about being real with ones self and what one does. There are musicians and composers who are not technically brilliant, who’s voices were not beautiful yet we love them for 'that unique spark that they are'. They didn’t necessarily have training. It was their style, their voice, we responded to not the coarseness of their voice, For eg Bob Dylan, Folk singer, his voice was not pretty, his playing was simple, it was a communication with us all, from who he was about the things he cared about. He presented passionately what he felt strongly about. Such is the job of The Musician within us, representing his or her Authentic voice and writing style.
For the master musician it is an expression of what is within. It is indeed a job, though not considered such by the culture around one, unless it is easily and successfully financially co-modified. Many do not make money from their skill, but they are Master creators just the same. Hours and weeks and months are spent crafting ones work to completion. But there are times when for whatever reason the Musician within encounters difficulties, blockages, fears, frustrations or anxiety. Loss of passions, or capacity and this loss drastically affects ones musical capacity and level of proficiency. Whatever happens it is the stuff of life, we can only do what we can do with what we have got at the time. Music is a record of the times. Musicians record the times, they represent culture, belief, event, feeling and thought in sonic form. Musicians are the Minstrels of Soul. They must listen first to within, or no music will emerge into the world. It all starts with a desire......an urge to life, a purpose expressed in time.
Having read this article, if you resonate as a Musician but are encountering troubled waters, Creativity Coaching may help you. I encourage you to get help, maybe from me, visit the contact form page and keep going for the world needs art, the world needs authentic voices, real musicians. Congratulations on your authenticity, never ever give up. If you would like to work together there are options, in person, via phone, skype, out and about etc. Ask!
Regards Catherine Meeson 2011 & 2015
Copyright Catherine Meeson Saturday 2nd March 2014
"Think Ahead is a new exhibition about advances in science and technology which blends innovative exhibits with hands on experiences to inspire you to research, think creatively and share your ideas” (Museum Victoria, 2014).
Melbourne’s Innovative Children’s education center Scienceworks in Spotswood, focuses on kinaesthetic and multi sensory exhibits. It has presented another fantastic exhibit with a special ‘Sound Room’. It immediately evoked the inner child in me who first discovered the joy of making sounds and the effect they could have on ones state of being ie. consciousness. It is a sci fi inspired sound module or sound pod which introduces people to the basics of Sound Psychology, and has an easy to touch, screen sample composition module – using pictographs. It is a similar concept to one of their previous compositional models using pictograms with preset sounds one can select from, easy to use for instant playback and recognition, and is gratifying for youngsters. The control sits in the center of the sound pod and there are four reclining seats to listen from and select feeling responses .
The compositional unit uses multiple tracks of audio as in any standard digital recording and playback technology. It is always in play mode scrolling right to left along the timeline. One can choose between four themes and four moods and compose a basic sound palette exploring sonic effects and feeling states and physiological responses. One is still exposed to the low freq sound waves from another part of the exhibit , it acts as constant background drone demonstrating the acoustics of a standing wave.
Sound has been acknowledged as a prime agent of state change, able to affect persons physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually going back in historical records to cultures like the ancient Greeks, Chinese and Egyptian. So the field of Sound psychology is not new, just a revision of aspects of previous knowledge conveyed under slightly different terminology (culture and time context dependent).
Sound has a tremendous impact on state of health and stress production. It is a phenomena of the physical universe of vibrations made audible travelling through the air, but frequency phenomena including those outside of the range of human hearing (20-20,000 hz) also passes through matter states, just at different frequency wavelengths ( as in ultrasound and infrasound). Sound waves can travel through dense objects, air and water, and as inaudible frequencies through space, more of an emission or pulse.
On the lead in to the exhibition this concept is introduced using a wall corridor with a focus on acoustics and waves, with a low pitched possibly sub drone. I did not use a spectrum analyser application to identify the exact frequency exactly as I was with children. Presentation boards introduce the concept of sound as physical vibration, as a force. Once one passes along the corridor, upon turning the corner, the entry to the sound room beckons, a dimly lit space with changing light colour spectrums, connected in to the mood pictographs (a possible colour therapy application). Some other information boards also discuss other aspects of sound, research in Acoustic Ecology- field recording of species to learn about behaviours and environment via sound. This field was a massive inspiration for my honours thesis work last year titled 'An Approach To Soundscape Composition Incorporating the Therapeutic and Moving Aspects Of Music and Sound'. This study explored this field from a slightly different angle.
The ‘Create a Mood with Sound’ ( see picture)- pictographic composition gave the following
The wave or mp3 samples, were dragged and dropped to play, conducted long the “play zone”. The listening pod/ sound module has other panels for selection for the listener with smiley faces, (see photograph) to express how the sounds being played made one feel. It is not prescriptive however studies have informed the choice of samples, they are most definitely themed according to known parameters of music /sounds effect on body and mind. These factors are too numerous to mention here in detail, but mention such things as rhythmic element, pitch, timbre, natural and synthetic, frequency, etc.
The Faces include
Another board spoke about the rhythms of the body and the resulting feeling states i.e. affect and introduced tonality and tempo as factors known to affect us. The dominant soundscape of city life is mentioned with reference to how we may adapt our sound world in the future to deal with the stressors of 21st century life. City soundscapes are known as being particularly stressful, and have impacts on the health of humans and the diversity of biological species, such as bird populations.
The other element of ‘Creating a Mood with Sound’ to select from was the selection of emotions which together with the other presets of Music, Nature, etc brought up, pre-selected palette of samples. The choices were
This linked in with the listening selectors so people could offer their reflections which in some cases may differ, depending of course on a persons subjective response. Sound & health studies as a broad field has some universal aspects and some that are more of the subjective kind.
The children could compose “Scary future sounds”, or Calm environmental “ for example by dragging the picotgrams onto any of the three tracks of the ‘play zone’. It is a fantastic way of generating awareness and educating about the rapidly evolving field of sound studies. Sound studies have so many implications for Future Culture and all living beings. It is timely that we are examining the effect of sound on other forms of life. Historical recsearch and recent studies have been done regarding sounds effect on plants, animals as well as persons. Sound has been used in medicine and engineering and will no doubt continue to be the cutting edge of innovation of many fields of study, with broad applications.
I found it engaging and timely, as it accords both with my lived experience , which is what drove me into researching the phenomena of sound on all levels and being a sonic archaeologist . Many years or private research have me able to recognize the importance of Exhibits like this, and able to offer commentary of interest. My exegesis and thesis last year 'Oriental Temple Gardens Complex composition explored the ideal sonic world, a sonic utopia, exploring all aspects previously mentioned in this blog so far, in a written thesis and a composed work, of 22.20. It considers sound music and health, inter-species relations, music healing traditions, cross cultural spiritualities and acoustic ecology.
To conclude, I think the ‘Sound Room’ has huge potential, and is a timely exhibit marvelously presented. It connects to some of my own ideas and has great future applications.
Photos taken on phone by Catherine Meeson of exhibit elements, from Scienceworks/ Museum of Victoria.
Museum Victoria 2014, ‘What’s on Today’ Pamphlet and map , Scienceworks, Spotswood Victoria.
A passionate human being and avid sound current devotee