Sound and music are a part of our everyday sensory experiences. Just as most of us have eyes to see light and colour, so too, are we equipped with ears for hearing the various sounds around us. Yet, we seldom take the time to think about the characteristics and behaviors of sound, and the mechanisms by which sounds are produced, propagated, and detected, as well as their effect on the human body.
The basis for an understanding of sound, music and hearing is the physics of waves. Sound is a wave that is created by vibrating objects and propagated through a medium, such as air, from one location to another. In this particular article, we will take a look at the nature, properties and behaviors of sound waves, and apply basic wave principles towards an understanding of music.
As an example, the Blue Sky Highway (BSH) an online internet radio program is about music, spoken word, soundscapes, and all things relating to sound. Links to several of the episodes may be found in the right panel, as you scroll down past the “Blogroll.” I thought it fitting, therefore, that we should explore some of the several aspects of sound that may often go unconsidered.
As an into to an episode, or two, to the BSH begins, “You are traveling through a dimension not only of sound, but vibration and inner sight, as you journey along on the Blue Sky Highway.”
Let’s take a look at the several aspects of sound:
Sound: Vibrations that travel through the air, or another medium, and may be heard when they reach the ear of an animal or person.
Sound Wave: A pattern of disturbance caused by the movement of energy traveling through a medium, such as air, water, et cetera.
Sound Vibration: The waves that emanate from the action of ones speaking, a sound, or music that is sensed by the ears, or felt by the physical body. Sound vibrations are also contained within each of the letters that form words, and are manifest when spoken. There is a whole Science of Numbers called Numerology that delves into the meaning of letters, numbers, their equivalents, as well as vibrations when words and sounds are produced.
Thoughts: Thoughts are also vibrations that are created by the mind electrically, as the synapses ‘fire,’ taking a thought from synapse to synapse. The brain uses sodium and potassium in the process, so the brain may be compared to a battery.
Verbalization/spoken word: These produce sound waves through the voice/vocal cords that, in turn, produce vibrations that are sensed in speech, conversation, and song.
Taking the preceding into consideration, we can see there is much more going on with sound than one might think. Therefore, it may be seen that all manifestations of sound have some form of effect on the body, which may or may not be perceived. Mantras have long been used in the East to manifest certain positive outcomes.
Mantra is a Sanskrit word with many meanings. It may be a single word or a group of words that are believed to have a psychological and/or spiritual power. The word or words are repeated in what are called disciplines and are used, as Thomas Ashley-Farrand writes, “…to help one feel more peaceful, cope with illness, deal with difficult or unpleasant circumstances, et cetera.” He goes on to write, “The power of sound, the power of music, the power of vowels, and the power of speech are the creative forces of the universe: as custodians of these, human beings possess tremendous spiritual power. For centuries, mystical scriptures and teachers of the East have taught mantra as a means for harnessing this power.”
Therefore, from this brief excursion into the various aspects of sound, we may see that thoughts, spoken words, and music have energy, vibration, and power contained within them, and may, indeed, have an effect on the listener. The effect is determined by what we’re listening to.
We will continue this exploration of sound in our next article, as we travel further into the dimension of sound and vibration.
© Roger Allen Baut
Reference: Thomas Ashley-Farrand, Using Sound Affirmations for Personal Power, Creativity, and Healing: Healing Mantras. The Ballantine Publishing Group, NY, 1999.