What is Hare Krishna?
Hare Krishna Mantra
Personality of Godhead
A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Events: Kirtan Festival
World Sankirtan Party
© 2004 - Hansadutta das
of Sound and Music
Hare Krishna Mantra
Events: Kirtan Festival
The Beginning, Middle and End of Spiritual Life
The Krishna Consciousness Movement is the Genuine Vedic Way
Pain Management Therapy
Vedic Conception of Sound in Four Features
The Healing Power of Sound
The Holy Name - Chanting the Holy Name
We don't often
think of the physics of sound, and the fact that sound has power to
effect physical objects. Just the mere fact that you perceive sound
shows this vibrational nature. The sound waves cause your eardrums to
vibrate, which causes a chain reaction in your middle and inner ear.
This eventually causes nerve impulses to reach your brain that are
perceived as sound.
To truly appreciate the power that sound can have, it helps to think of two examples. An earthquake is actually a series of sound waves caused by two plates of earth sliding by each other in a quick motion. The scraping that ensues causes a sound wave to be produced. Sound travels faster in the air than it does in the denser earth, so you can often hear an earthquake before you feel it. We all know about the power and destructive capabilities of an earthquake. Another example of the destructive power of sound is the ability of some singers to break a glass merely by singing a particular note. Both the example of the earthquake and that of the singer illustrate the characteristic principle of resonance.
Our bodies also resonate or vibrate in response to and in concert with sound waves that we are exposed to. In fact, there is some fascinating research that's been done that even shows the relationships of this resonance to the planets of our solar system. Our DNA and RNA molecules, which are the building blocks of our very chromosomes, resonate to an octave tone (a musical relationship) of the earth's rotation pattern. Is it any wonder that with our DNA vibrating in concert to the energies we are exposed to, that when we listen to certain kinds of music we could be damaging our own bodies and those of future generations (through our chromosomes).
The different frequencies of the sound waves that are produced when a musical instrument is played correspond to various musical notes. For example, a sound wave that produces the note that is commonly called "concert A" vibrates at a frequency of 440 cycles per second (hertz or Hz). Different parts of your body resonate with different notes and the harmonics produced by different types of musical instruments. Each one of us becomes a magnificent dance of tissues, cells, molecules, atoms, and energy fields swirling in rhythm to the beat of the sound waves. When this dance is a dance of harmony, it is healing and life giving. When the dance is one of dissonance and disharmony it brings on disease and it takes away life energy.
This dance of nature to sound and music was visually demonstrated by two different scientists in similar ways. An eighteenth century physicist named Ernest Chladni investigated the effects of sound an music on matter by sprinkling sand on steel disks and watching what happened when a violin played various notes. The changing patterns that were produced were striking in their symmetry and artistic and mathematically precise patterns.
In this century, Dr. Hans Jenny took Chladni's work a few steps further. Dr. Jenny devised a device he called a "tonoscope," which consisted of a metal plate on top of an oscillator. The oscillator produces vibrations in the plate that are adjustable according to volume and pitch. When different materials are placed on the tonoscope, patterns emerge in response to the vibrations that are very much like patterns found in nature. For example when paste is placed on the tonoscope, a pattern emerges which looks like the early stages of cell division. Other substances mimicked honeycombs and nautilus shells. A pattern produced when a crescendo of sound vibrated through powder looked remarkably like the iris and pupil of an eye.
However, one of the most fascinating results occurred when Jenny used a microphone to vibrate the tonoscope. When he uttered the ancient mantra, AUM or "Ohm", a pattern was produced which consisted of a perfect circle filled with concentric squares and triangles. Coincidentally, the very same pattern is found in the yantra or geometric artwork that has been used for centuries in the East to represent the AUM, the so-called mantra of mantras. Once again, science demonstrates the profound relationship that sound has with matter.
Another profound relationship that sound has with our bodies and minds was discovered by a French ear specialist named Dr. Alfred Tomatis. Dr.Tomatis spent decades measuring the affects of different sound frequencies on our bodies. He researched which frequencies boost energy and which ones deplete it and how they bring about these effects. He came to a startling conclusion. Dr. Tomatis says, "The ear is made not only for hearing. The ear is designed to energize the brain and body."
How can we possibly get energy through our ears? Well, in our previous discussion of the power that music has, we talked about resonance and how the right frequencies of sound waves produce sympathetic vibrations in other physical objects, including our bodies. Tomatis discovered that certain kinds of music, which had an abundance of certain frequency ranges, actually were effective in recharging the central gray nuclei cells in the brain. These cells act like tiny batteries that power your brainwaves. You would expect that these tiny batteries must be recharged by your body's internal systems and metabolism. Tomatis found otherwise.
Dr. Tomatis discovered that it wasn't something inside you that recharged these brain cells, it was certain frequencies of sound from outside your body that provide the recharge. As sound travels through your inner ear, it whirls around and around through the coils of the snail shaped cochlea. From there it comes upon a long line of 24,600 cells called Corti cells, which dance a perfectly synchronized dance to each sound. This dance of the Corti cells produces energy that splits off, some going to the brain and some going to the vestibular branch of your auditory nerve and then to the muscles throughout your body.
So, with all we've discussed about the benefits of certain kinds of music, what kinds of music would you expect to have the ability to produce the most energizing of the brain as well as the most release of muscle tension and improvement of bodily functions and posture. The same Baroque and Classical music that we've discussed before, especially those pieces rich in strings, produce frequencies that Tomatis found to be energizing and healing. In fact, Tomatis found that it is possible to rejuvenate your ears with sound.
Dr. Tomatis developed and patented a devise he calls the Electronic Ear. This device emits bursts of different high and low frequency sounds, alternating from ear to ear. This process effectively exercises the muscles of the middle ear so that they get in shape and work as they are supposed to. Tomatis found that sounds in the range of 5,000 to 8,000 hertz recharge the cells that are like tiny batteries in our brains the fastest. He also found that the music that is the richest in these high frequency sounds is that of Mozart. And, he went on to pinpoint those sounds that were damaging to the body and the mind. These were low frequency sounds, like the noise at an airport, a construction site, in traffic, etc. Tomatis also singled out the low pounding sounds in rock music as "brain drain" sounds.
Others have taken the same frequency ranges that Tomatis worked with and found that these appear to universally benefit life. A researcher named Dan Carlson found that 5,000 hertz also energizes plants. He performed experiments in which he embedded a 5,000 hertz pulsed sound (which resembled big cricket sounds) in tapes of Baroque and other classical music. He played these tapes to plants as he sprayed them with a nutrient mix. He found that the plants showed a 700 percent increase in efficiency of absorbing the nutrients. It was discovered that this frequency of sound actually helps the little pores on the plant's leaves called stomata, to open up. Guess what the frequency of bird song is. Yes, it's around 5,000 hertz. And who says nature doesn't have a plan. You'll find that in areas that don't have a lot of birds singing, there's not a lot of plant growth either.
Speaking of plant growth, Dan Carlson found that his mix of life enhancing music and spraying of nutrients on his purple passion plant produced some record results. He was able to take a plant that normally grows to a height of around 18 inches and produced a plant that grew 1,400 feet long in the course of two and a half years! This feat earned Mr. Carlson and his plant a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Researchers have also applied this 5,000 hertz frequency to studies on people. A recent test was done using this frequency added to Baroque music played while people ate dinner at a restaurant. It was found that people who ate to slow classical music ate more slowly, digested better, and didn't gain weight. On the other hand, those that ate to rock music ate very quickly, digested poorly, and gained weight.
In addition to benefiting the body and its functioning, Tomatis discovered that these life giving frequencies could bring psychological health also. He found that he was able to help learning disabled and even autistic children to lead normal lives. One of his lines of research revolved around the sounds that a baby hears when in the womb. Tomatis discovered that by placing a specially sealed microphone and speaker into water he could simulate the sonic environment that a baby experiences before birth. When Tomatis played the sounds of a mother's voice through this fluid media to her autistic child, the child went over and turned off the lights, climbed onto his mother's lap, assumed the fetal position and started sucking his thumb. Over time, by gradually substituting the mother's voice through regular speakers instead of through the fluid media, Tomatis was able to get the child babbling and eventually brought the child to complete normalcy.
Guess which sound frequencies predominate in the fluid environment that Tomatis used. They are some of the same sound frequencies that dolphins make and the same frequencies found quite often in bird song. It was also the same frequencies that Tomatis found to be most beneficial for recharging your brain cells - around 8,000 Hertz!
Choose what you and your children listen to, and choose carefully!