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
A passionate human being and avid sound current devotee