Musical creativity and use of sound: Mathematical ratios capable of altering and engineering consciousness
My research involves an investigation of the therapeutic and esoteric properties of sound from three different perspectives - Western scientific, Eastern philosophical, and shamanic societal beliefs - to gain a deeper understanding of how, and to what extent, sound has been used to affect human consciousness. As an ethnomusicologist my approach entails a social scientific study of sound use in several traditional contexts: religious, spiritual, holistic, and cultural. In studying how ancient religions, shamanic cultures, and non-Western contemporary societies have utilized sound, I have observed a sophisticated awareness by these societies, past and present, of the transformative power of sound on consciousness. Building acoustics-oriented sites, crafting overtone-emitting musical instruments, creating non-equal tempered modal and harmonic musical systems, and designing sacred musical practices are all demonstrations of this awareness.
Underlying sound’s psychoacoustic power is a complex mathematical ratio, the harmonic series, which is nature’s blueprint for sound production, capable of exhibiting limitless musical probabilities. It is also considered to be one of the most notable manifestations of intelligence in nature. EEG studies I have conducted have shown that exposure to these overtones affects brainwave cycles and accelerates and deepens one’s ability to achieve a meditative state. Given these findings, I have endeavored to construct a therapeutic sonic experience designed to engender mindfulness.
This experience, which I call a “sound meditation,” is a holistic practice that combines a shamanic ceremonial setting with an Eastern emphasis on breathing exercises and visualization. Overtone-emitting musical instruments played during the meditation allow participants to use sound as a therapeutic tool to disconnect from discursive thinking and delve into a transcendental state. The goal is to enable participants to disengage their undesirable habitual patterns and to empower positive cognitive change.