by Viki Sky
Harmonics are inherent within all sounds. Anything that vibrates in air produces sound and creates harmonics: the pop of champagne cork, the roar of a jet engine or the sound of our voice. In fact, harmonics are responsible for our individual and unique speaking voices. Also known as overtones, harmonics are mathematically interrelated ratios or intervals that are created when striking any fundamental note (e.g. F, F#, G, G#, A, etc.)
Regularly listening to harmonics, and especially if we create them with our own voice, as in chanting or toning, can alter our states of consciousness and shift our perception of “reality”. This is because sound has a frequency – it vibrates, dissipates and permeates other sounds. It also shapes matter and can influence the operation of the total human system.
Dr. Hans Jenny, a Swiss scientist, demonstrated how sound shapes matter. He placed sand granules on to a metal plate and then played a few notes from great composers such as Mozart and Bach. The sand granules formed constant shapes to the vibration of the sound, and extraordinary patterns were observed. He also described the biological effect of sound on the human body, as every cell of our body has its own vibrational frequency. Human cells are composed of atoms and molecules that resonate according to their mutual harmonies. Many cells together form tissues and organs that are part of a biological system. This system then vibrates according to new harmonies.
There are four states of consciousness, defined by brainwave activity and frequency. Beta, the logical, stress-oriented state, allows us to use verbal language. Alpha, the conceptual, highly creative and meditative state, allows us to grasp concepts. Theta is the activity of deep sleep or deep meditative state, and ‘delta’ is super-conscious, beyond the pain threshold. When we are listening to harmonics, the brain shifts from beta to alpha (as it is in alpha that our brain processes music) and even to theta states, in those who regularly meditate.
All the neuro-chemical processes in our body are controlled by our states of consciousness. Specific sound frequencies can be used as a healing modality to balance energetic blocks or misalignments in our mind-body system. In terms of frequencies, our auditory system has an audible range of 20 HZ – 20,000 HZ (cycles per second) and can resolve remarkably small temporal differences in music. It also locates us in space and can be thought of as a central switchboard for our sense of space and time. The semicircular canal in the inner ear is the most important of our receptors for balance – but it also regulates all other receptors distributed throughout our body. It is the only receptor that can measure angular velocity, allowing us to know the angle at which we are lying, even when we are still half-asleep.
When we meditate with sound and enter a low alpha brain wave state, we can actually “become one with the sound”. It is also possible to achieve the deeper, theta state of consciousness, where profound healing takes place. This can be promoted if we regularly listen to harmonics – especially those created in metaphysical/trance music and harmonic choirs. We can then “become one with the harmonics” and travel to their source. Such a state of listening is not always experienced. However, regular meditation – particularly utilising a Sanskrit mantra – can take us to that level. Sanskrit is a perfect language; it is more copious than Greek and more grammatically perfect than Latin. It is melodious and its vibrations are believed by Ayurvedic practitioners to be healing to our mind-body system.
According to quantum physics, all matter at the subatomic level is in a state of constant flux. Matter is energy pulsating at different rates of vibration or frequencies and it is the rate of vibration that distinguishes one form of matter from another. It has been proven that an atom is both a particle and a wave – matter and energy are intertwined and interchangeable. This understanding takes us to the origin of the universe. “In the beginning was the word and the word was…’ sound.
The formation of sound came out of the void or, as Deepak Chopra calls it, “The Unified Field”. Through silence, we allow our mind to transcend everyday chatter and the frenetic Western pace of high-tech living and access the unified field, which contains all answers and all possibilities.
The origin of sound reveals the origin of all creation. The Hindu belief is that the “soundless sound” is the subtlest element. It is beyond the speed of light, contains all universal knowledge and is the cohesive source of all that is. Listening to harmonics may also have great healing effects on our total body (including bone and muscle tissue). Healing – whether emotional, psychological, spiritual or physical – is an act of re-creation. It is the process of re-organising a created being toward its intended state of dynamic equilibrium – a state of change in which the fluctuations remain within a healthy range for us.
Kay Gardner, author of Sounding the Inner Landscape: Music as Medicine, has identified nine elements that demonstrate the healing effects of music.
1. Drone – healing music should have a constant tone that drones behind a simple melody.
2. Repetition – short musical phrases, vocal and instrumental, should be repeated over and over which produce a calming effect.
3. Harmonics – long sustained tones produce harmonic overtones, which balance the entire physical body at the cellular level.
4. Rhythm – rhythm duplicates many pulses in the human body and via entrainment, move the pulses into harmonious pattern
5. Harmony – affects the emotions. Various keys (minor or major evoke feelings of joyfulness, sadness or calmness.
6. Melody – the mind becomes enchanted with melody and ceases to engage in its continuous mental chit-chat.
7.Instrumental colours –each instrument has its own unique vibration. (playing the note of C on the piano would sound very different to the same note on a violin)
8. Form. – pieces that have many changes in tempo will affect stimulate us and steady pieces will calm us.
9. Intention – music played with a focused intention of healing would contain that intention in its frequency.
Rudolf Steiner believed that people understand each other in reference to rhythm. He attributed rhythm to will and associated melody with feeling. Through melody, our conscious mind opens up to feelings and this forms a head-heart connection, by which relating to oneself and to the world becomes a more dynamic and complete experience. Our feelings are orchestrated by harmony.
Harmonics as a healing modality
Resonance, entrainment (two or more frequencies pulsating in unison) and synchronicity (analogously, two pendulum clocks mounted side by side on a wall will swing together in perfect synchronicity) are universal in nature and can be explained in terms of rhythm. Rhythm is “harmony in time”. Rhythm and harmony complement each other. That is, the inclination toward rhythm includes the inclination toward harmony.
Rudolph Haase demonstrated that the rhythms of the human organism – the frequencies of pulse, breathing, blood circulation, etc. – function according to harmonic principles. He also pointed out that, if these rhythms are interrupted, the resultant disharmonious rhythms cause dis-ease to develop in the human body. This is apparent in cancer cases, where there is total irregularity of all rhythms, because the cancer cells do not vibrate according to the harmonious rhythms of healthy cells.
Tuning forks comprise a sound modality that can align the seven chakras (energy centres) and correlate with fundamental notes. (base chakra is C, pelvic chakra is D, solar plexus is E, heart chakra is F, throat chakra is G, brow chakra is A and crown chakra is B.) By placing the tuning forks on or over the chakras (the appropriate location and procedure having been determined by muscle-checking the client) the optimal vibrational rate of the chakras is realigned by resonance with the tuning fork. Tuning forks can also be used to re-align cranial bones, balance auric fields, and to introduce frequencies that the body needs for optimal healing. The same respective chakras are treated in the Ayurvedic system utilising high-pitched humming of the following sounds: Vum, Lum, Rum, Yum, Hum, Ka Shun and Aum. These are just simple sound modalities that we can all do by ourselves to achieve balance and harmony.
We feel good when our bodies are in harmony. Disease sets in when the human body loses its optimal rhythm. As harmonics can shift our awareness and our states of consciousness, allowing us to perceive our world differently, in so doing, our mind-body system begins to resonate with more energising, life-promoting frequencies.
Viki Sky, M.A. (UTS), B.A. (UNSW), is a Holistic Kinesiologist and practitioner of Holographic Repatterning. She uses sound/harmonics as one of the healing modalities in her sessions.