By: Paul Edge
Throughout history, the importance of rhythm and frequency as sociological and ethereal response activators cannot be doubted. The purpose of this article is not to convince that any particular modality is right or wrong but to draw parallels between consistent elements that transcend time, space and cultures.
In the first segment I will examine rhythm and why, in the discussion of the current genre of sound healing, it is often overlooked. I will explore specific patterns, tempo and how they coalesce to create an apparent therapeutic value.
In the second segment I will examine the actual frequencies that appear to have profound effects, how conscious/unconscious dissociation occurs when frequency is used to enlighten, empower and conversely manipulate and control, plus draw on my own music and anecdotal evidence to arrive at what are hopefully interesting and thought providing conclusions.
A note here. Many people take offense at my use of the term conscious. Whilst I personally believe words have power because of their analogous properties and should be used appropriately, my use of the term conscious is not in any way an attempt to be disparaging to anyone's belief system.
Rhythm is a quintessential part of nature. For example, there are 3 types of biological rhythms; circadian, infradian and ultradian. In neuroscience, we also see a "central pattern generator", a section of the neural network that generates rhythm without any sensory input. In Nature, rhythm is again to be found. In fact, it is perhaps the most basic pattern in nature.
"The more closely you look into the entire physiological process that constitues the dynamic form we call 'life', the more minutely, diversely, and elaborately rhythmic it proves to be. - Langer 1957
Most humans will relate rhythm to music and understandably so, however the question that has always interested me is whether humans are hardwired to respond to - and produce certain features of music. Consciously, a song is almost overwhelmingly identified by the melody. For example, there is even a long running show called "Name That Tune" which focuses on that particular aspect. I have often wondered, just how different (and successful) a show would be called "Name That Rhythm".
In contemporary pop culture, the drummer is often regulated to an afterthought because the conscious focus is always on the lead singer. Yet, when one realizes that it is the drummer who keeps the entire performance together, be it John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, Starr of the Beatles, Keith Moon of the Who, Ginger Baker of Cream etc, one starts to begin to appreciate the critical part rhythm.
The fact that a lot of the great drummers appear to be what is perceived as "insane" (they are anything but) gives further credence to some of the ideas later discussed, such as a simultaneous Delta and Gamma experience.
In a research study published by Science Magazine, ethnomusicologist Patrick Savage from the Tokyo University of Arts summed up the research as follows: "Musical evolution obeys some general rules similar to the kind that govern biological evolution".
The article goes on the examine for example, what aspects of music are consistent across cultures (of the conclusions they arrived at, 18 features were found to be present of which 6 were rhythmic)
The article continues with a further study carried out by Cognitive scientist Andrea Ravignani, at the Univeriteit Brussel in Belgium. Under controlled conditions, the experiment found that when groups of 8 students were subjected to randomly generated beats, by the end of the experiment each student had created highly structured patterns that reflected all six rhythmic universals.
As a dj/producer and someone with an innate understanding of the importance of rhythm, one that has led to global exposure for my music, as I began to delve deeper into the question "what is the purpose of rhythm" many years ago. I began to notice that certain rhythms had more influence than others, in particular the 4x4 and triplet rhythm. When a traumatic event in 2012 changed the direction of my life, the importance of these observations made on a global scale, observations I had studied at almost obsessional level for many years, driven by an unconscious knowing that this was very important even though consciously I could not explain it. As esteemed internationally renowned producer Woody McBride noted:
"Much like why classic rock has more soul than modern rock, classic techno artists from the 80's and 90's can understand and transmit deeper and more universal ideas and musical messages that work to awaken the human spirit at the recreational and sub-atomic level. Paul Edge is one of those producers - he has made a science of it."
On this journey of research, I have noticed that the 4x4 and triplet rhythms have been used almost exclusively in the ceremonies of the Aborigines, Native Americans, African Shamans, The Tribes of New Guinea, The Maori, Traditional Celtic Music and the Incas. The emergence of electronic dance music in the late 80s which has resulted in the largest youth influence of all time, far outlasting in time the much lauded 60s psychedelic rock movement, both the 4x4 and triplet rhythms are the foundational element.
As I began to embrace Erickson's work and watched his hypnotic sessions, I observed a combination of 4x4 and triplet rhythm. Many people become obsessed with the patterns of Milton Erickson, the work of Grinder and Bandler, which resulted in NLP has been hugely influential in this respect. However a study of Erickson's actual sessions will show that without rhythm and tempo these patterns simply become tool for conscious manipulation.
Frequency also can be converted into tempo. In healing, it is accepted that the Delta range plays a vital role in health and well being. In meditation, Tibetan monks who have been meditating for years can reach Delta. At the Center for Neuroacoustic Research, Delta has been shown to produce ecstatic states of consciousness, high-level inspiration states, spiritual insight and out-of-body experiences.
When we observe the BPM associated with Delta States however, something immediately jumps out.
- 1 HZ - 60 BPM
- 2 HZ - 120 BPM
- 2.2 HZ - 132 BPM
- 3 HZ - 180 BPM
Those familiar with Electronic Dance Music will immediately notice that the 4 major genres that have influenced the world all fall within the above ranges.
As we further apply these tempos to the great teachers, orators and influencers of society, for example, Martin Luther King (129 BPM 4x4 rhythm) and Obama (130 bpm 4x4 rhythm) one can extrapolate that there is a natural tempo and rhythm that results in profound social change.
The term frequency has been a buzz word for many years now. Phrases like raise your vibration, sound healing and similar concepts are thrown about with abandon. The challenge of course is that not all frequencies are empowering. Sonic weapons focusing on specific harmful frequencies have been used randomly including recently at Standing Rock. When a person tells me they are "raising their vibration" my normal response is to what frequency?
Therein lies the quandry.
The scientific definition of frequency in the most general sense is, frequency is defined as the number of times an event occurs per unit of time. In physics and chemistry, the term frequency is most often applied to waves, including light, sound, and radio. Frequency is the number of times a point on a wave passes a fixed reference point in one second.
An audio frequency (abbreviation: AF) or audible frequency is a periodic vibration whose frequency is in the band audible to the average human. The SI unit of audio frequency is the hertz(Hz). It is the property of sound that most determines pitch
The generally accepted standard range of audible frequencies for humans is 20 to 20,000 Hz, although the range of frequencies individuals hear is greatly influenced by environmental factors. In air at atmospheric pressure, these represent sound waves with wave lengths of 17 meters to 1.7 cm. Frequencies below 20 Hz are generally felt rather than heard, assuming the amplitude of the vibration is great enough. High frequencies are the first to be affected by hearing loss due to age or prolonged exposure to very loud noises.(source: wikipedia)
In respect of sound it is possible to conclude the following from the above:
1) Delta, Theta, Alpha and most of Beta need to be felt as they occur outside the range of human hearing.
2) Gamma is the only brainwave frequency that can be heard. In neuroscience it is thought that Gamma waves are involved in processing more complex tasks in addition to healthy cognitive functioning.
Anyone who has explored frequency as a healing device will inevitably come across Binaural Beats. A binaural beat is effectively an auditory illusion perceived when two different pure-tone sine waves, both with frequencies lower than 1500 Hz, with less than a 40 Hz difference between them, are presented to a listener dichotically (one through each ear). They have been claimed to decrease anxiety, focus attention, improve memory, improve mood and emotional states, enhance creativity, reduce pain, help with meditation, enhance cognitive flexibility, improve sleep quality and so on. Many years ago I experiemented heavily with this idea in both my recordings and live sets under the concept of "frequency differentials" whilst studying songs of whales and dolphins. After exhaustive experimentation, it led me to a conclusion that today remains unpopular, quite simply, binaurals do not work as claimed.
Everyone knows that binaural believers cherry pick scientific research that shows binaurals are effective. However, in a research paper released in 2015, the following consclusion was arrived at:
While findings for most putative applications up to now are either solitary or contradictory, several studies consistently report a diminishing impact of binaural-beat stimulation on anxiety levels. The underlying neural mechanisms are still yet to be unraveled. Understanding how and where the binaural-beat percept is generated and which cortical networks are most affected will aid in the optimization of both monaural and binaural-beat stimulation as a tool to modulate cognitive and mode states.
Furthermore, a Harvard study was unable to reproduce the binaural effect utilizing analogue headphones, the implication being that the binaural response is electromagnetic in nature.
May I add at this juncture, if listening to two pure sine wives helps a person relax then I for one encourage it, however, my challenge with binaurals are a lot of money is being made under demonstrably false pretences.
In new age communities across the globe, sound healers are making bold claims. From Tibetan Bells to gongs, crystal bowls to modern keyboards, "sound baths" that apparently heal people are de rigeur. Where I live in Encinitas for example, weekly sound healing events are commonplace.
Let me make myself very clear at this point, I have devoted my entire life to understanding frequency and its impact on the human body and I feel that there are frequencies that have the potential to heal. However, that statement has a caveat, not all frequencies are equal.
Some years ago when I live in Arizona, I was lucky enough to speak with a medicine man from the Navajo Tribe. I was seeking to understand the importance of rhythm, tempo and frequency in healing ceremonies. At one point towards the end of the conversation, I asked, "what happens if you get a word wrong, or a drummer plays the incorrect rhythm"? I was informed the ceremony would be halted immediately, such was the importance of frequency and rhythm. In this moment I learned something quite profound because I was being given information from an elder who had spent his life in training and in service, not a 21 year old who has decided they are going to call themselves "shaman" in order to make money.
There are many aspects of cultural appropriation I personally find a shame. Perhaps the most ergregious example is the wanton abuse of the term "shaman" or its feminine equivalent (and this applies to all indigenous healing facilitors).
The meditative quality of music is known, and that alone can have a powerful destressor effect on a person, however, there is a huge difference between using music to get into a meditative state and claiming that this music, and equally as importantly, the "sound healer" and not the meditative effect, is the cause of any well being that may be felt.
“There’s no scientific published peer reviewed paper that supports any of these claims. These are all cool claims. It would be nice if some of them were true. But there’s no science whatsoever that supports any of these claims.” - Chris Kyriakis USC
432 vs 444
There is a current ridiculous debate as to which tuning is the best. In the sound healer world, 432 HZ tuning is spoken of in reverent tones. I do not use the term reverence lightly, the near fundamentalist belief in the quintessentialness of 432 HZ tuning to create legitimate healings is all too apparent.
Amongst the many spurious claims are:
- 432 HZ is the "God frequency".
- Ancient instruments were tuned to 432 HZ as their base pitch, despite the fact that seconds were only invented in the 16th century and the HZ measurement simply did not exist before 1834.
- Demonstrably false claims that Verdi used 432 for all of his life, that 432 HZ is the frequency of the heart, brain, earth, water (note: the schuman resonance is 7.83, no amount of mathematical conjuring can divide 432 by 7.83, this can be applied to the other similar body part claims).
- Motzart used 432 HZ for all of his music (Handle's personal tuning fork was tuned to 422.5) .
There is a second thought system that believes 444 HZ tuning is actually the divine tuning. Like the 432 HZ supporters, the movement has also taken on an unhealthy form of fanaticism, even to the extent of offering to convert (for a small fee of course) music recorded at non-444 tuning. This is absurd and as non-productive to the serious examination of vibrational medicine as the demonstrably false claims of the 432 HZ supporters.
When a person is tuned to ego there can be no harmony.
Despite these ego based delusions of grandeur by some 444 proponents, this is the concept I subscribe to. I will delve into the frequencies associated with this shortly, however, there is an interesting sequence of numbers that a person may like to compare compare.
A note scale - by frequency - 432 HZ tuning
- 27.00 HZ
- 54.00 HZ
- 108.00 HZ
- 216.00 HZ
- 432.00 HZ
- 864.00 HZ
A note scale - by frequency - 444 HZ tuning
- 111.00 HZ
- 222.00 HZ
- 333.00 HZ
- 444.00 HZ
- 888.00 HZ
The 444 HZ tuning also includes the following meaningful frequency:
C1 - 33.00 HZ - (33 HZ is also known as the Christ Frequency)
In the above series of frequencies we see two sets of meaningful numbers. Anyone familiar with vedic mantras will immediately recognize the relevance of the 432 HZ sequence. Likewise with the 444 HZ sequence, we see a number of powerful sacred numbers.
Perhaps what a person observes in the above are conscious and unconscious codes. In my work I have examined 100s of frequencies. Some have had remarkable effects on me, my surroundings and animals. Here are just a few observations. Each test was done with a pure sine wave:
- 1111 HZ Appears to resonate with cats, birds, dogs and horses.
- 1008 HZ can be detected in multiple countries when the listener immerses his or her self.
- 888 HZ: Minor distortions in the solidity of matter.
- 528 HZ: Remarkable Healings.
- 108 HZ: Profound resonance with nature.
- 54 HZ: Capable of rapidly inducing a somnabulistic trance.
- 10.3 HZ: Releases serotonin.
These results are personal observations and some anecdotal, for example, some of the 528 testimonies can be read here
The Digeridoo and the Drum
On my travels, there have been two instruments that have been universally accepted, the digeridoo and the bass drum. Now I fully appreciate this is anecdotal, however, if a person was to do a quick survey of their friends, one of the two aforementioned instruments would be gleefully accepted.
The digeridoo is generally accepted as being the oldest instrument on the planet. What is unique about this instrument is that in order to play it, the artist must generate breath (or prana), rhythm, frequency which all result in energy, thus meeting Tesla's requirements. I am lucky to know a superb digeridoo player, Justin Yasgoor, who has helped me immensely in my understanding of the complexities of the digeridoo.
What is fasciniting is that the bass frequencies generated when Justin plays not only hit the 33 HZ parameter, however also reach the same bass frequencies recorded when the Tibetan monks deep throat OM.
The bass drum, be it the Native American Pow Wow, the Bodhran of the celtics, the djembe of Africa, the 808 and 909 of electronic dance music etc, hold a fascination for their ability to enduce profound states of trance through repetition, frequency, rhythm and tempo, which, like the digeridoo, produce energy.
In my writing this article, I stopped to chat with dear friend Claudia Salerno. Claudia is currently finishing her PhD in neuroscience and I value her input. She mentioned that it was thought that Gamma states produced enlightment. Gamma states occur in the frequency range of 25 HZ to 100 HZ, the domain of the bass drum. In my own personal productions, I have focused intently on that frequency range also.
Neuroscience is confirming that Tibetan Monks do indeed engage the Gamma range during meditation.
Conversely, when a person reflects on the jhanas of Buddhism, the following is observed:
"The fourth jhana is similar to the delta one brainwave experience. Delta is about 1.5 to 4 HZ. When we fall asleep we enter delta. The transition between the third, theta and the fourth, delta one, is important for it is here that dream meditations can be achieved.
Here we are relaxed, conscious and full of equanimity. It is a transition between waking and sleeping. Here we can remember our dreams and ‘sink’ back into our dream state and change them. This is dream therapy in which we become conscious actors interacting with the content and symbolic nature of dreams.
“After abandoning both pleasure and pain, happiness and grief, the monk enters into a state beyond pleasure and pain with equanimity and an attentive mind, the fourth jhana.”
The fifth jhana is at 2-3 HZ.
When this same meditator moved into developing arūpa jhāna, letting go of attending to the nimitta, electrical brain activity shifted to the right parietal lobe – see below - which is known to be involved in integrating spatial representations. The intense energisation has also now spread into the lowest-frequency (0–4 Hz) Delta band, as well as the Theta band. Delta activity is normally mostly found in deep sleep, but here it occurs as part of the highly aware meditative state.
In Vedic mantras, it is not the words that generate change, it is the mmmmmmm at the end of OM, Gum, Hreem, Shreem, Kleem, Dum, again all bass frequencies. Yet the higher frequencies are an integral part of the mantra.
When a baby cries and a mother picks her child up, she invariably will hummm, producing more bass frequencies to sooth her child. Again is is the higher frequencies that denote the necessity of the lower frequencies.
When a cat purrs it produces bass frequencies.
The question naturally arises, are bass frequencies those that connect a person to the unconscious mind, the realm of infinite possibility and higher frequencies to the material world, the conscious world?
Logically, if a person could master a perfect Delta and Gamma simultaneous union then the ability to experience unconditionally would emerge. Elsewhere on this site is a quote, "when the conscious and unconscious compete, the unconscious always wins.
Is this the knowledge that has been lost, that it is not either or, but both simultaneously that produces momentous shifts in an individuals life?
I fundamentally see, feel and resonate that the answer to this question is a resolute yes.
The above pages merely scratch the tip of the surface when dealing with the matters of rhythm and frequency. When a person contemplates the question of healing within a sonic parameter; by now, you, the reader, may accept that whilst the frequency focus is interesting, rhythm and tempo play an equally important role.
Rhythm produces frequency. However frequency, whilst by default is inclusive of rhythm, is not reliant on this. In order to truly understand the potentials of vibrational medicine, exploration of specific tempo and rhythm that produces a unification of both delta and gamma states simultaneously should be looked at.
In Gnostic texts, it is advised that "when the two opposing houses become one, you will say to the mountain "move away" and the mountain will move away". This poses the fascinitating concept of rhythm and frequency combining to produce delta and gamma states simultaneously.
In the matter of conscious/unconscious dissociation, do the higher frequencies of the high hat when combined with the profound lower frequencies of the bass drum, in a rhythmic dance, as found in virtually all electronic dance music, account for the global movement that continues to expand 30 years after its conception?
Do we see similar patterns in ancient mantras? The sch of schreem for example frequentially mimics the same frequencies of the high hat. If the reader is so inclined, you can record yourself saying schreem repetitively and eventually you will notice the familiar sound of the high hat appearing over the bass tones on the mmmmm.
Quantum science is finally arriving at the conclusion that what we are experiencing is one of an infinite number of realities running simultaneously.
Could it be that the purpose of music is not to heal/manifest or create anything in this particular reality, its secret lies in the ability to transport a person to the reality that they wish to experience?
Before you finish this article, perhaps you can play a song that has a powerful positive emotional charge for you.
Does it return you to a better time? What did you feel deep inside?
How important were the challenges you face today, even if just for a fleeting moment?
Did they even exist in that reality you just visited?
If you could bring your loved ones, your friends, your family and your community to that feeling, would you?
In its profoundly simple form, you will have just experienced time travel and a reality shift. What are the infinite possibilities you can experience now that you have mastered time travel and reality shifting?
Is this why the true healing power of music cannot be replicated by sound healers and binaural beats, because both require conscious engagement of a fixed reality? If a person is supposed to be experiencing challenges in a specific reality or a particular nature, would it not be easier to shift to where those challenges do not exist?
I have spent my life immersed in frequency and rhythm, asking questions, exploring every rabbit hole the questions led to. The ideas expressed in this article are just the tip of the iceberg, however, they are being shared to hopefully give more and more people their own rabbit holes to explore.
A person heals themselves because that which a person experiences in inside of them. There are facilitators and experiences a person can have to expedite this healing. Pow Wows, African ceremonies, Aboriginal celebrations, drum circles and more immediate, techno, house and tech house (quick note: just as not all frequencies are beneficial, neither are all djs. Ego based electronic dance music can easily be identified because it does not induce a natural state of trance).
All of the above modalities are united by a common theme, specific frequencies, the ones that do not hurt another. The choice, and it is only just a choice, is for a person to experience them.
Frequency is rhythm, rhythm is frequency and combined they have the power to move mountains, to heal, the shift the human collective to a space of peace, love, unity and respect.
To paraphrase Tesla, "to experience the secrets of the universe, resonate with vibration, frequency and feel the energy.