May 2004 Newsletter
Sound Healing Workshop with Tryshe Dhevney - Coming Soon!
We are very excited to bring award winning actor/writer/director and sound healer, Tryshe Dhevney to Manchester for a weekend of sound healing and attunement. She will share her unique tools for aligning the physical, emotional, energetic, and spiritual bodies that can energize you and bring you to sound health.
Where: Center for Progressive Therapies, Manchester, CT.
Arriving this month! Tibetan Ritual Objects
We are expecting our new shipment of Tibetan bowls to arrive any day now. Coming directly from Nepal, the shipment will include some of the new modern carved and etched bowls, as well as Tingshas, and the Tibetan Bell & Dorje.
We have Pythagorus to thank for developing the first in-depth understanding of the harmonic overtone series. Although this 6th century Greek mathematician is best known for his a2 + b2 = c2 theorum, he is credited for providing the basis for our current 12-semitone musical system. In this article, we will explore the relationship between two of the notes in this system - namely the interval of the Perfect Fifth.
First, it's important to understand that we humans have a built-in capacity to learn language. It is hard wired in our brains. This means that children and babies learn language automatically, without having to be taught. Humans have also evolved a sense of music that relates directly to this innate ability with language comprehension. In its most basic form, listening to music allows us to experience a wide range of emotions. Hense, the field of music therapy was born. Being able to elicit repressed or unexpressed emotions in a safe and supportive environment is a powerful healing tool.
What Pythagorus noticed so long ago is still true today. When you pluck a string, the string vibrates back and forth, and through the magic of compression and rarefaction, sound waves are created that send pulses into the surrounding air at 743 m.p.h. - the speed of sound. So why does a bull frog sound different than a trumpet? The answer is overtones.
What we perceive as a single tone is not just a single tone! Every note sounded into the universe also contains a series of overtones, which our brain interprets as "color" or "timbre." That's why if the bull frog croaks a B flat, we can tell the difference between that and the B flat of a trumpet. Remember the hard-wired language module in our brain? It also gives us the ability to automatically perceive and sort out the overtone series. The overtones are weaker and softer than the fundamental frequency, but our brain still perceives them. And they have an effect on us! Another interesting fact is that humans are able to sense tonal relationships, no matter what musical culture we come from. In other words, we all know when we are hearing dissonance/consonance, rest/unrest, tension/resolution. No musical training is required, just as no language training is necessary for us to eventually comprehend words.
The frequencies of the overtones are whole-number multiples of the fundamental. If we analyze the ratios between these numbers, a very interesting pattern quickly becomes apparent. Let's take a closer look at it. For purposes of illustration we will use Middle C as the fundamental frequency.
As we can see from the chart, the first note in our overtone series is the same note as our fundamental note C, but an octave higher. Since this octave interval carries no musical tension with it, our brain perceives it as the same note repeated at a higher pitch. The second overtone, however, is G, a Perfect Fifth above C. So, the first and strongest overtone that our brain perceives is this Perfect Fifth interval. Notice as we go higher and higher into the overtone series that the intervals get smaller and closer together. Eventually, the overtones continue beyond our normal range of human hearing, which is about 20k Hertz.
So what's so special about the Perfect Fifth? Well, it turns out that we humans have an affinity for the simplest of ratios. The musical module in our brain has evolved to respond most powerfully when we hear sounds tuned to the most simple frequencies. The octave, having a ratio of 1:2 is the simplest, and the overtone note will give strength to the fundamental note. The next simplest mathematical ratio is 2:3, and this is where the Perfect Fifth lives. In composition this interval is recognized as having inherent stability with very little musical tension; it is consonant, pleasing, balanced, wide, spacious, at rest. The 5th note is firmly placed in the middle of the diatonic scale and provides a counterweight to the 1st, or Tonic note. Ironically, even though the 5th note (called the Dominant) is in the middle of the scale, it is also as far away from the Tonic as any note will get. This is because as you travel farther up the scale, you are completing a circle that leads back to the 1st note, an octave higher!
If we examine the most bizarre of ratios found in our 12-semitone system, we discover an interval with a ratio of 32:45. It is called the Tri Tone and is indeed a most strident and unpleasant sound. In fact, for centuries this interval was banned from musical compositions, and was called diabolus in musica. The "devil in music."
Notice also that the note G appears twice within the first 5 overtones. If we changed our fundamental frequency to G, then C would appear twice in G's list of the first 5 overtones. It is also interesting that the Keys of C and G share 6 out of 7 notes in common, in their musical scales. To say that C and G have a close relationship is an understatement. Of course, this is true of any Perfect Fifth combinations, not just C and G.
But enough now of music and math. What about metaphysical properties? What is the relationship there? Well, C represents the Root Chakra, located at the base of the spine. This energy center helps us with basic survival issues and learning how to provide for our physical needs. The Root Chakra is also associated with security, self-esteem, trust, new beginnings, the ego, and personality. In astrology, the first house is ruled by Aries, a fire sign, and Aries gives us the energy and passion for birth, including the birth of the self and the ongoing rebirthing we experience as we grow and change. The soul desire here is to feel nurtured and nourished, to experience belonging to the whole. The key phrase for this Chakra is "To Have." Until we "have" safety and security, trust, food, shelter, etc. we cannot effectively evolve to the next step. If you are dealing with a Root Chakra issue, listening to the sounds of a C bowl can be very effective for grounding and providing a secure pathway to Mother Earth. In order to receive nourishment from the universe, it is necessary to first put down roots. The C bowl helps us send a deep tap root down into the Earth, where we may be perpetually nourished.
The 5th Chakra, represented by the note G, is the Throat Chakra. This energy center is ruled by Leo, another fire sign, and is associated with communication, creative expression, sexuality, children, abundance and opportunity. The Throat Chakra helps us learn to "speak our truth" and connects us with unconditional abundance from the universe. The element most at work in the Throat Chakra is Sound, and the phrase "To Speak" is operative here. This important gateway Chakra is where our physical world connects to the world of Spirit, through Sound, and is represented by the color blue. If you are wanting to manifest better communication and more abundance in your life, than listening to the sounds of a G bowl will help you achieve your goals.
Playing the C and G bowls together creates a very dynamic effect. It is a powerful catalyst for both grounding and expanding into Spirit, through Sound. Add your own voice to the mix, and it is a recipe from Heaven. Add more voices, in a group context, and you have the most powerful healing tools in the universe!
Next month we will explore the interval of the Perfect 4th. Stay tuned!
About the Author
Article by Donna Tetreault of SacredWaves.com. Donna follows her lifelong passion of combining sound, scents, gems, minerals, and the human voice for healing. Visit the website for more information about Tranformational Sound Healing, Crystal & Tibetan Singing Bowls, and Sensual Earth Treasures.
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