Long post alert....
Music unites us. Unity is something that we really need right now both individually and collectively. I can't think of a time in my life when there was no music. It was everywhere when I was a child. All kinds of genres of music wove themselves into my world… from the record or cassette player to the TV and radio. I often recall my Mom and Dad singing. My Dad sang for a local theatre company. Music prompts memories, tears, laughter, dance and movement and can help us to relax and can be deeply healing and cathartic. I'm so grateful to be able to hear music. To be affected by vibrations and sounds. Someone I spoke to recently said they don’t ever sing (because of something that happened in childhood) or even hum and that they don't ever listen to music or dance or just simply let their body sway or respond to a beat or rhythm. I felt a huge wave of empathy and also a sense of loss on their behalf. Rarely is there a day in my life where some kind of music isn’t playing in the foreground or the background and where I move to the rhythm of whatever is arising. I couldn't imagine my life without music. It brings such richness and joy.
For aeons, humankind has tuned to the subtle energy of music and sounds. We tell our stories through music and song. Singing in harmony choirs can offer a sense of connection like no other when we listen to and are in harmony with those we sing with; attuning to them and the environment. We receive and transmit sounds and subtle energies throughout our lives and I'm fascinated by how all kinds of sounds affect my body and how I can tune in to the vibration of different tones and oscillations and how they feel. What I've noticed is that certain kinds of sounds, tones, voices, repetitive noises and musical mixes will leave my nervous system either soothed and uplifted, frazzled, jangly and on edge and anything in between. The geek in me loves what Dr Stephen Porges shares about trauma, the Polyvagal theory, the social engagement system and how sounds, music and lyrics help us to express and how powerfully they can influence us and our physiology. We associate with certain sounds and they can either trigger our sympathetic nervous systems or soothe us. Sometimes just hearing a sound or frequency frequently will acclimatise our bodies to hearing that sound. In other words, we can get used to a particular sound and normalise it. If we have a childhood memory of classical music and it is associated with being neglected, for example, then subjectively when we hear that music it is possible that it will be an unconscious trigger for us regardless of the frequencies within the composition.
When I hear music that feels to me like there is a deep soul resonance, my body seems to literally drink in the gloop of the sound soup and I get a very particular electrifying sensation in the right hemisphere of my brain. I have learned that this is most often when music includes instruments and sounds tuned to the 432 Hertz frequency. But surely, I hear you say, a musical composition is a weave of millions of waves of sounds and frequencies dancing around and with one another? Indeed. So how does this sonic alchemy have such a zingy humming effect on the rest of my body so much so that it feels like it is reverberating, playing and shimmering at a cellular level? When we bring sacred sounds like chanting, toning, light language or sacred symbols within our sphere of awareness, we are tuning into their unique information, their light codes and vibratory signature. Each organ and cell in our bodies has receptors for these vibrations. We can feel this energy from other beings, in our environment, in nature, in sacred places such as places of pilgrimage or homage. I guess as with every living being, my personal elemental body gets excited when she feels she is being listened to and communicated with in a loving, intuitive way that acknowledges her unique truth which is alive and present right now and looking to be in lifelong partnership with me rather than being treated like a programmable robot or machine that is required to perform endlessly for my benefit.
We humans are glorious, uniquely calibrated, elemental and electromagnetic instruments wrapped in a soft, animal body! Isn’t that fun? We are akin to a tuning fork that holds millions upon millions of weaving harmonics and even that doesn’t do us justice! When in proximity to/connecting with the energies of another "instrument” or being, something new and original arises out of that connection. I want to understand this more, do you? We have so much to learn (or perhaps unlearn and remember) from our ancestors about subtle energies and sound patterns. I want to understand more about sacred geometry, the patterns, the notes, the mathematics and the exponential healing potential of unity, melody and harmony in the body. This all appeals to my inner geek and I've noticed that there is quite a bit of misinformation, gobbledygook and mysticism associated with different frequencies. A competitive approach perhaps that postulates that frequency A is more healing than frequency B and so forth. We are energy beings and as many of us have found during the last year or so, when a large proportion of the human collective is in what might be described as dense vibrational states of fight, flight, freeze or fawn, nervous systems can get activated by widespread fear, scarcity and negativity, and then our window of tolerance reduces, our attention narrows and we tend to obsess about things in life and are generally feeling more contracted, tense and imbalanced. We can hyper focus on the material world which shifts the quality of our attention.
All kinds of natural patterns and geometry are found in the earth herself. Just like sound, brain wave states can be measured in Hertz (Hz) which indicate the number of cycles in a second. Have you noticed how we humans like to measure? We like to put things into categories, give them labels, put them in boxes, count them. The Schumann resonance calculated the frequencies of resonances that bounce between the earth surface and the highly conductive ionosphere and this is calculated at 7.83 Hz. This is on the border of our own theta and alpha brain wave states. Alpha brain states influence our immunity and when these are out of balance they alter our stress and anxiety levels. In coherent alpha brain states, we tend to learn better, feel more relaxed and have a greater sense of inner balance. The earths invisible electromagnetic field and frequencies sustain life here on the planet and participate in creating life too. Earth and all life has a specific pulse and we are intimately part of and connected to this. Sounds of all kinds prompt emotional responses and the human water body, as Marko Pogacnik says in his book "The Universe of the Human Body", needs to be capable of resonating with the rhythms of the earth and with the water body of the earth and her oceans. When we do not ground ourselves and absorb the frequency of 7.83 Hertz, scientific research has shown that our bodies become weakened and vulnerable to disease and in fact our entire biological systems - the brain and the earth itself, work on the same frequencies.
No wonder then that when we are endlessly using computers and starved of time in natural surroundings we can feel discombobulated and disconnected. Experiments have shown that when we are blocked from receiving these natural frequencies we become emotionally distressed. Gaia has her own Wi-Fi that influences our bodily processes, cycles and functions. This is also connected to the wood wide web just under our feet (the wondrous mycelium network). Just going out and reconnecting with nature can improve our mood and health and we transform ourselves by (often unconsciously) tapping into the Schumann resonance because our own personal bio rhythms and energy of our nervous systems and body naturally synchronise with those of the earth. This simple practise moves us out of beta brain wave patterns that are consistent with high arousal states stress and anxiety. When we synchronise in this way with nature, our breathing changes and becomes more relaxed, the heart rate slows and our awareness shifts. That's the beauty of immersing ourselves in the loving nature that we are. When in nature we tend to open our focus and see the bigger picture. We might be glancing at the landscape, seeing the expansiveness of the starry, midnight sky or on the beach looking out towards the horizon. This is how we move our awareness from narrow to a wider focus and become more coherent. Heart coherence is important for vibrant health. The heart has the most powerful electromagnetism of the human body with its own toroidal field and as we know, the heart connects to emotions and frequencies of love, compassion, forgiveness and kindness.
There is a school of thought that says that every frequency serves a purpose and creates a sympathetic resonance with thoughts, emotions and sensations in our physical experience and in the environment and there is a mathematical basis to this thinking. This resonance will affect our attention, awareness and levels of consciousness. I've been curious about the effects of frequencies on the bio-field of the human body and how the body holds the sacred geometry of the Fibonacci sequences and the Golden ratio that we see elsewhere in nature. The BBC, in the early 20th century, promoted the wide use of the frequency of 440 Hz and I've heard that when music is tuned to A = 440 Hz, for example, which is not a frequency we find in nature, this is potentially unlikely to be in resonance with the human body. When tuning A = 440 Hz, I understand that all the tuning ratios end up as irrational numbers with infinite decimal places, the resultant effect being that it makes it nigh on impossible to get an instrument perfectly in tune. I wonder, then, how the body receives this energetic information as all energy seeks resolution and balance? Do these notes feel harmonious or discordant I wonder? A creation or a miscreation? When the human body, as a vessel, feels bombarded by discordant sounds, it can create contraction, tension and disruption in our body systems. We can feel hyper-aroused and edgy. Much like is happening in our worlds right now.
I don't claim to be either a mathematician or a skilled musician, yet what I do know is how something feels to me and my humanness and given that we could be described as uniquely calibrated tuning forks, as I mentioned earlier, our experience of different frequencies will be similarly unique and subjective. That said, much is also made of the idea that 440 Hz is unnatural as in not occurring in nature and creates subtle, often imperceptible, disharmony and discord in the listener or the receiver of music tuned to that frequency. The argument posed is that when the frequencies of 440 and 432 Hz are examined in cymatics experiments (cymatics being the study of the patterns of sound waves) the patterns show that 432 Hz creates distinct and beautiful shapes which indicate they emulate and deeply resonate with those found in nature and the sounds of the universe. The 440 Hz tuning creates fractured, indistinct patterns and I find myself reflecting on the amazing discoveries of Dr Masuru Emoto and how he explored the essence of this during his experiments with water with similar findings.
The frequency of 440 Hz has been the most commonly used frequency in music since its wide adoption in the last century and there are interesting theories about how that came about which would take me down a rabbit hole I don't want to visit right now. It is said this frequency creates, in the receiver, an outward activity described by sound explorer Jill Mattson as a bit like “aural caffeine” for humans who are observed to respond by being more productive, industrious, productive and active.
The frequency of 432 Hz, some 8 Hz different and naturally occurring in nature, is said to have a marked difference on the sensations in the body and people who have experimented and exposed themselves to different sounds and frequencies (solfeggio, binaural beats, crystal tuning forks and similarly pure sounds) say how much they love 432 Hz in particular and they feel that they became sensitised to the difference in frequencies. They also say that it has proven tricky to persuade fellow musicians to retune their instruments to this frequency because of the prevalence of A=440 Hz in the musical realm. Generally, people say that it sounds and feels better though often they are not clear quite why or how. Some say that their voices feel more liberated and that they increase in range and that the tone feels more connected to their bodies. They say they feel more relaxed and because of this it sounds and feels better with richer overtones. Once again, this is a very subjective experience which is hard to pinpoint. Interestingly though, it was good enough for Beethoven, Mozart and Prince and it is believed that Stairway to Heaven was recorded in 432 Hz and that musicians such as John Lennon (Imagine) and some of the early works of Bob Marley (Three Little Birds) recorded using instruments tuned to the 432 Hz scale. So it seems that this right brain tuning (the tickling of my right hemisphere?) has been known about for some time and many artists have experimented with it or created their tunes using it. This topic has been a recurring theme in conversations and people I have spoken with talk about how using the pure tones of crystals (singing bowls, nightingale harps, tuning forks) feels like it's massaging the heart with a warm, calm tones that simply help them feel better, to adjust their emotional states and balances and centres them. That works for me!
What I know is I don't know what works for you. Or you. Or you. You might like totally different sounds, tones, music and voice ranges to me … in fact I’d say you're inevitably going to have different tastes and responses because of the era you were born, your unique life and experiences and that that is something to be celebrated. Generally what I'm learning is that the important consideration is how people feel about the sounds frequencies and music. Let’s face it, a banging tune might be just what you need to inspire you and for you to find a cathartic outlet for the movement of energy.
Someone saying frequency A is better than frequency B will be expressing their truth and sensate experience about how it feels for them. However, every composition of music is a tapestry of millions of frequencies weaving in and out of one another and that even if it is supposedly ‘432 Hz-tuned’ music, it will most likely not feature that frequency or other potentially more healing frequencies prominently at all. I welcome that, the randomness and the mystery. In a world where the subjective experience is so often made to be “wrong” and that science is always “right” it's so easy to adopt the same imperatives of the hierarchical competitive paradigms that we wish to liberate ourselves from.
In conclusion, I still feel very much in deep inquiry about this and I invite you to join me in playing in the mysteries of it and to reside in the space of enchantment about what music offers you personally. Perhaps to not think about it too much at all. Let go of any judgements and honour how this can be a mutative, fleeting, never endingly co-creative experience in each now moment. Let the body discern and observe how it responds to particular frequencies and combinations. Listen to and attune to your body’s own unique, unparalleled, indefinable pulsation, frequency and vibration and how it feels and be ready to respond with openness and an innocent curiosity. Immerse and bathe yourselves in music created by artists tuning to alternative frequencies and then tune in to your own vessel and the sensations and resonance in your heart and your body. If that feels coherent for you and feels good, then that is a good enough measure if indeed measuring is what we need to do.
As we celebrate our own, blessed, human body instrument, let us be free to tune in to our own vibratory vessels, our medley of melodies, to others and to our environment in the now moment because that is where the true alchemy, healing, magic and miracles can happen.
The more this comes from a frequency of love from within ourselves, the more we align ourselves with love, the more we will embody the transmutative frequency of the Universe, which is also love.
Photo: Penny Hardy's beautiful sculpture "You blew me away". A reprise.