What is Psychoacoustics?
Defn: “The branch of neuroscience concerned with the perception of sound and its psychological and physiological effects.”
Does music ever make you emotional for no logical reason? If music is that powerful, can we all use it to achieve our own individual versions of success, wellness, confidence, motivation, and inner peace?
Psychoacoustic Music and Sound Hypnosis
A short way into my hypnotherapy practice I began to see the principles of psychoacoustics in action. I found that I could help my clients to overcome their mental blockages, by using strategic sounds to induce and deepen their trance states.
I am inspired by the work of H.W. Dove and Stanley Koren, just two of many pioneers who have made paradigm shifting contributions in the field of neuroscience, concerning the brain’s “frequency-following response”. Dove is famous for discovering the frequency-following response while experimenting with binaural beats in 1839. He monitored the brain activity of his test subjects (people) and observed that certain frequencies of sound induced the same frequency of brain activity. For example using a binaural beat of 8 Hz, he observed the person’s brain following the 8 Hz frequency. Hence: frequency-following response.
Koren’s application of Dove’s discovery occurred more than a century later. He designed a device with 8 electrodes that create a tiny current, controlled by a computer program. In this case, the frequency-following response was achieved by electromagnetic stimulation of the brain’s temporal lobes, but the result prompts exactly the same question as does the work of H.W. Dove:
If we could understand this technology and use it responsibly, can we all use it to achieve our own individual versions of success, wellness, confidence, motivation, and inner peace?
We would not be the first people in history to ask this question. We don’t have to look very far to see that ancient cultures had some very interesting scientific practices. The walls of Jericho, from any religious perspective, are reported to have been destroyed by sound. More recently, LRAD Corporation (Long Range Acoustic Device) has developed a “sound canon” for crowd control. Unfortunately, some humans have a tendency toward making weapons out of any technology they come across, but what if the same technology could be used for healing?
Tibet Buddhist monks are famous for fabricating beautiful singing bowels out of copper. Each instrument is said to be exactly tuned to one of the “natural frequencies” of the human body, where A = 432 Hz.
Wait, hold up. What? How does the human body have “natural frequencies”? And how does sound have anything to do with the body?
If our bodies are 70% water, and water is effected by sound frequencies, wouldn’t it stand to reason that our bodies are 70% effected by sound?
Video: Dr. Masero Emoto shows how music effects water – WE ARE 70% WATER
Alright, but how do we know what a “natural” frequency is?
What is 432 Hz?
The frequency 432 Hz is an audible sound about a quarter tone lower than concert pitch “A” which is 440 Hz. It is the tuning standard in the Vedic system of music, (ancient Indian) in which a certain sound is believed to be the cause of Creation – the Aum sound, at 432 Hz. The number 432 is pivotal in the Vedic understanding of human anatomy and medicine, which also has to do with sound frequency. Also, with uncanny mathematical anomalies, the number 432 is a key to the “Sacred Geometry” of Vedic and other forms of ancient architecture, where the ratios and proportions of temples follow the geometry of the human body, and by extension, the geometry of the cosmos.
Isn’t it alarming, that so many ancient building sites all over the world, from Angkor Wat in Cambodia, to Stone Henge in the UK, to Teotihuacan in Mexico, to Giza in Egypt, all have precise cosmic alignments and obsessive proportions as identifying characteristics?
Fortunately for those who are curious enough to ask that question, one of those ancient cultures is alive and well and living in India. The Vedas are a collection of many volumes, containing knowledge about every aspect of life. I came across this resource while studying to be Yoga Teacher in 2003, and it gave me a great sense of hope to discover that the power of music is actually real. There is a sound frequency for each of the nerve ganglia in the body, also called Chakras. Vedic sound healing uses the natural sound frequency of the “dis-eased” Chakra, and the body tunes to the frequency like a musical instrument.
In my hypnotherapy sessions I use soundtracks that I produced, featuring the frequencies of the Chakras, where A = 432, the frequency of the Crown Chakra. I use the rapid eye movement of a client to gage what stage of trance they are in, and I always observe much deeper levels of hypnosis when I use the soundtrack, it has a visible effect on brain activity.
Using psychoacoustics in my sessions has made things much easier for me to show a person how to feel peaceful, or discover a feeling of confidence, but I would love to use acoustic sound, made by natural instruments. I have a new exhibition of sculpture opening on 6 March 2016, called: “The Elemental Instrument Orchestra – An Exploration of Psychoacoustics”. Elemental Instruments are musical sculptures tuned to 432 Hz, that create a relaxing and ethereal ambiance for any living space using natural energy. Part of this exhibition is a series of recording sessions with the instruments, so that I can use their sound in my hypnotherapy work.
The Cosmic Hum
During my fine arts degree I was inspired by an experience in meditation, where I saw the Universe as a slowly turning, living, breathing doughnut-shaped plant form, like a galaxy. During this experience I also heard a sound that was later described to me as the “Cosmic Hum”. The experience effected me quite profoundly, and my sculpture style immediately changed from figurative-fantasy to the construction of musical instruments that recall the experience that I had in meditation. To create the living breathing quality, the sculptures are automated (self-motivated) to make sound using elemental forces: wind, rain, gravity, and fire – hence “Elemental Instruments”.
Video: The Elemental Instrument Orchestra – An Exploration of Psychoacoustics
Dates and Times: Launch on Sunday 6 March 6:30pm, open March weekend afternoons
Address: The Sculpture Garden, 19 Dalmore Road Tokai 7945
All welcome, entrance is free, if your friend would be interested in this exhibition, please share!