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.
A passionate human being and avid sound current devotee