Pre-task: A philosophy in Presence
What is sound? And how does sound bring healing and change; create form and actualise manifestation? What is the power of resonance, entrainment and intent through sound? In this learning module we journey deep within our internal world where we find the origin of music - sound.
Our master on this journey is Steve Tsakiris, a public speaker, teacher, writer and workshop facilitator. He has researched from traditions in the east and the west, psychology, spirituality, Eastern traditions, Western traditions, Aboriginal traditions, African traditions, Greek traditions, and has synthesised many different tools for self-exploration and transformation.
Steve’s goal is to use sound for personal development since sound is a tool to bring the listener into the present moment.
The Mystery of Sound
There are some things – only philosophers will be able to answer. The purpose and mystery of sound can be traced back to the beginning of time and creation. In biblical texts they talk about “in the beginning was the word.” And, what is the word? It is sound. The Eastern traditions talk about Nada Brama, everything is a sound. Aum is one of the sounds that they believe to be sacred at the creation of the universe. Even scientists call the beginning of the universe the big bang. What is a big bang, but a sound? So sound interlinks everywhere. Plato talked about it; Pythagoras talked about it as the music of the spheres. Everything has a vibration and everything therefore has a sound.
There are three primary principles we work with to use sound in our lives. They are resonance, entrainment and intent.
Quantum physics tells us that everything is in a state of vibration, our physical body, our bones, our liver, our kidneys, our heart, our brain. All of these are vibrations of energy. Our thoughts, emotions, spirit and soul are all vibrations of energy. We are in effect resonating beings made of sound. Our environment is also made of vibrations of energy. Sound has an affect on all these different aspects of who we are and our relationship to the environment.
Using the electroencephalograph or EEG, scientists have measured the four different frequencies of our brainwave activity. Beta activity is very fast, 12 – 40 hertz, and is used when we are alert. Alpha brainwaves are slower 8 -12 hertz when we are more relaxed, but responsive and receptive. Alpha is the best state to learn and recall. Theta is even slower, 4 - 8 hertz, the state we slip into when we are deeply relaxed like in deep meditation. Delta 0.5 - 4 hertz we find in the human brain during sleep, and is best for rest and recharge.
Sound resonates. And each resonance has a frequency. Frequency + intention = energy
Through intention, our consciousness can effect the outcome. Sound is like a carrier wave of consciousness pretty much like a radio station uses a carrier wave signal to transmit its programming. What we intend to do with the sound is important and we can use our sound, through our music, instruments or voice, to transmit our intention.
Take the work of Dr Emoto, the Japanese scientist. He designed a series of experiments where he exposed frozen water to different types of music. He used a dark field electron microscope to photograph the frozen water at a molecular level.
Certain types of music caused the water to form crystals. Angry music caused the water formation to distort like mutated cancer cells, whilst beautiful music, chanting and prayer produced beautifully formed crystals, like sacred geometric figures.
With over 75% of our body made up of water, can you imagine how important are the sounds we expose ourselves to, the words we use, and the thoughts we think?
Entrainment is the ability of one vibrating source to lock onto and bring into step a second vibrating source. Through entrainment, one vibrating source such as music, can bring into resonance a second or a third vibrating source such as the various parts of the human being. It is through entrainment that sound heals.
Think how traditional and indigenous cultures use chants, traditional instruments and drumming to create altered states of awareness and consciousness. To these ancient cultures, sound is a spiritual technology. Sound was used to entrain the brain waves; this had an effect of healing body and mind, and enabling communication with the ancestors.
Now answer the following exercise questions
1. What is awareness, but to be truly present? Where are you right now? How are you feeling? What are you thinking? And, how does what you are thinking make you feel?
2. All music comes from a place of silence and stillness. How do we touch the silence within ourselves? How do you touch the silence within yourself? Can you think of practices and disciplines, training and activities that you, your family or people in your community use to touch the silence within?
3. Before we make a sound we must take a breath. Many ancient religions and philosophies speak how creation started with a sound, but what about breath? How do you breathe? Are you aware of your breath? What is the relationship between your breath and your sound?
4. Through Dr Emoto’s experiment we see the power of intention in creating beauty. What is your intention and what are the intentions you wish to put into your creative output? What would you most like to manifest? What would you most like to sing into existence? Visualise it, dream it, sing it and actualise it:
The Magic and Mystery of Sound by Steve Tsakiris
POST-TASK: From sound comes music
You take your hands up to the keyboard, or drums, you bring your lips to your instrument, or you open your mouth to sing. Stop for a second and think, how are you translating that creative thing within you onto your instrument?
That is both the mystery and the magic of music. Music is said to come from the muse. The muse is a mystical concept of creativity. As musicians, we create the space for the muse to express itself, by knowing our instruments, knowing our techniques, and practicing our musical ideas and feeling until the process becomes engrained in our sub-conscious. When we play like this, the muse expresses itself through us organically. It is an art form – and it comes from deep within.
This expression comes from a place of stillness and takes us back to that stillness. Sound is a powerful form of release. Don’t judge yourself. And also don’t judge others. Just, enjoy the process of discovery.
Systems of 7
The Solfeggio scale is known in the West through the tones “Do; Re; Mi; Fa; So; La; Ti.” The Chinese sing it “Hei; Heng; Hong; Ah; Shi; Yi; Wong.” This scale of seven unique tones, also known as the diatonic scale, is a mirror of the 7 primary colours and chakras.
If you think of it all as different vibrations at different frequencies, you can visualise this musical system of 7 with the colours of the rainbow and the chakras of the body.
Let us sing or play through the system of 7:
1. The first sound, the “Do” or “Hei” is at the deepest bass-iest frequency sung in a deep guttural “UH” sound. It resonates with the base of the spine, between the genitals and the anus, where the first chakra resides. The colour visualisation to accompany this sound is a deep beautiful red, the first colour of the rainbow.
2. The next sound is “Re,” or “Heng” sung with an “OOO” sound. The colour that accompanies this sound is orange and it resonates with the second chakra, the area of your lower tummy .
3. The third chakra is the area of the solar plexus, around the belly button. It is the seat of our personal power and sometimes called the abdominal brain as there are so many amazing organs in that region. The sound that resonates with the solar plexus is the “Mi” or “Hong,” sung in a slightly higher pitch, “OH.” The colour is the third colour of the rainbow, a beautiful bright yellow.
4. The midrange of our body chakra’s is the area of our physical heart. The colour that resonates with the heart is a beautiful healing green colour. The sound tone is a, “Fa” or “Ah”, sung in an “AH” sound in the midrange of our instrument.
5. The fifth chakra is the throat chakra and a very important place for expressing our natural sound. The colour that resonates with this chakra is the fifth colour of the rainbow, a beautiful bright sky blue. The tone sounded is a “So” or “Shi” sung in an “AI” sound, played in a slightly higher pitch than the midrange.
6. The next chakra centre is the brow, the third eye just between the two eye brows. The colour that resonates with this wonderful organ is a purple colour. The tone to be sounded is the “La” or “Yi” sound sung in an a nice round “AY” sound, slightly higher in tone.
7. The final chakra in the system of 7 is the crown of the head, the tip of the head. The resonant colour is a beautiful white light, visualised coming though the crown and filtering into the entire body – filling it with light. The final tone of the solfeggio scale - “Te,” is sung or played in an “EEE” sound at the highest frequency of the seven tones.
Now engage with the following post-task exercises:
1. The process of sound bathing is taking five minutes every day to listen to nourishing sounds - a calming music or nature sounds - the wind through the leaves, the birds in the trees, some running water, ocean waves, rainfall, thunder. Pay special attention and open your awareness to the nourishing sounds around you. You may even just want to retreat into a little bit of silence. Now, take a sound bath and make a written note of what you did, what it did for you and whether you intend on doing this on a daily basis?
2. On the level of the physical body, sound affects us. Fast music with a strong beat makes us alert and energised and fills us with a beta brainwave activity. It can help with exercising, for instance, when we need to be alert and energised, whilst chanting is a slow form of music that takes us to the meditative state. Can you think of the different types of music you like to listen to or perform during the day and describe what kind of effect they are having on your brain?
3. Imagine your holistic being – body, mind and soul as a great symphony orchestra . When all the aspects of us are in tune and resonating well, we experience balance and harmony. What techniques have you learnt from Steve to help keep your being in tune?
4. When Steve plays the ancient Tibetan bowl instrument, it does not produce a single tone, but a wawawaw sound - which is a combination of different frequencies created by the instrument at the same time. This is called a binaural beat frequency. These binaural beats entrain the brain waves into theta state. Are you able to describe what effect these binaural beats have on you?