Apr 02, 2015

By Don Burry


"Music hath charms to sooth the savage breast." – Shakespeare

My last article was entitled "Colour", but was truly concerned with the aspect of visual perception. This article is entitled "Music", but is really about SOUND or, more accurately, auditory perception, and how this may influence a BodyTalk session. Why would this be an area of interest for a healthcare modality? Well, one place to start would be to compare the Japanese Characters for the words "Medicine" and "Music".




Note the similarity of the second character! (and remember,..."there are no accidents"!!)

Sound is "a vibration that propagates as a typical, audible, mechanical wave of pressure and displacement, travelling through a medium, such as air or water." Those waves of sound, however, only exist as potential until there is the reception of the wave by the ears, and the subsequent perception and interpretation by the brain.

It is not my intent to go into any great detail on the structure and functioning of sound waves, but there are a few terms that should be understood. The wavelength, (denoted by the Greek letter Lambda), is the spatial period of the wave and is dependent on the medium through which the wave is travelling. The amplitude of the wave is the change over a single period. The frequency, (described in Hertz), is the velocity (speed) of the wave, divided by the wavelength. The greater the frequency, the shorter the wavelength.

The frequencies that are audible to humans range from 20 Hz- 20,000 Hz. It is "EXPECTED" that as we age we loose our range of hearing. Isn't that a belief system you would like to avoid! That is a very basic analysis of the physical description of sound.

Here is the first place that you may be taken in a BodyTalk session- Body Parts. Details could lead you to any part of the structure of the ears (see Fundamentals Appendix or an Anatomy/Physiology text for specifics). You could also be taken to a specific area of the Brain that, in the case of sound, is predominantly the Temporal Lobes, but could be anywhere (remember synesthesia!)

Although we most often associate sound with a method of communication as in speaking with one another, or music, it also helps us in discerning what is going on within our environment. The rolling of thunder across the sky, waves crashing on a beach, the song of birds as they return after winter (their songs being communication within their own species), or as a warning of a possible danger/threat. The reception and interpretation of sounds helps us in determining the location of what is creating the sound. "What" something sounds like can tell us the direction of the cause of the sound waves as well as the proximity (close or distant), by means of volume and frequency of the sound. Just as with visual perception, we rely a great deal on auditory 'memory' that is based on past experiences and is stored in our subconscious. This can cause belief systems within the individual, which can be positive, (the rattle of a snakes tail telling you to keep your distance) or negative (an irrational fear anytime you hear a dog bark). It is also important to note the difference between Hearing and Listening.  All incoming sound is processed in the Brainstem. Hearing is a passive event and is done, predominantly, in the brainstem. It is an autonomic function and utilizes filters to keep us from becoming overloaded with auditory information. You may be able to hear all types of noise around you at any given time, but without focus, it is merely 'white noise'. Listening, on the other hand, is an active participation. These sounds are interpreted in the Cerebral Cortex and the brain searches for the familiar, (auditory memory). This auditory memory functions in two ways. The first is expectation. This is something that is already known. It is very specific and has a history in an episodic event- the dog that barked while surprising you, baring its fangs at you as you walked by the fenced yard. The other form of auditory memory is anticipation. This is a more general form of semantic memory where we rely on sound, (words, musical notes, etc.), to follow rules of structure and style. When someone is playing a song that we know, it is how we can perceive a 'wrong' note or chord that has been struck.
In BodyTalk, imbalances in these areas could be addressed through the Senses Bubble- Sense of hearing, both natural and subtle. Perhaps it also comes through the Consciousness Bubble- Pathological "not wanting to hear the truth" or "not speaking your truth".

I would now like to focus on music for a bit. There are seven notes in the Diatonic scale. These are "A", "B", "C", "D", "E", "F", and "G". We traditionally begin at Middle C, which is given the label 'DOH'. Therefore, it follows that D is 'RAY', E is 'ME', F is 'FAH', G is 'SOH', A is 'LAH', B is 'TE' which bring us back to DOH! , (My apologies for this "Sound of Music" reference).  These repeat in pitch to higher frequencies as well as lower frequencies. Here is another place where a BodyTalk session may be lead. In my article on Colours, I discussed how each Chakra had its own related colour. They also have their own related musical note. The Base/Root Chakra is related to the musical note "C", the Sacral Chakra to the musical note "D", the Solar Plexus Chakra to "E", the Heart Chakra to "F", the throat Chakra to "G", the Brow Chakra to "A" and the Crown Chakra to the note "B". (Does this mean the 8th Chakra relates to the musical note "C", as the scale starts over?). If a Chakra is in imbalance, does it need a tone to be applied to get it back into balance? A tuning fork may accomplish this and Tibetan Bowls are also made to resonate at the seven different tones of the scale.

Cymatics is a science where physical matter, such as iron filings are placed on a membrane and exposed to different notes/frequencies of sound. It is interesting to see the images and shapes that are produced when a specific frequency or resonance is reached.


I used a term that could use some more clarification- Resonance. Frequencies at which the response amplitude is a relative maximum are known as the system's resonant frequencies. If we are 'in agreement' with something, we often say that it "resonates with me". It is really taking you to your maximum amplitude! In music this may be seen as our 'preference' for one style over another. Our choice in musical genre is often referred to as our "taste" in music, (perhaps another way to BodyTalk through the Senses Bubble!). There are many factors that influence our 'choice' in music, but one of the primary factors is Peer Pressure! It is a form of listening to conform- we want to fit in to our peer group so we listen to what our friends listen to. Another factor is our belief systems in what role music should play in our lives. Is music noise to you? Should music be played in elevators or as background sound in shopping centers?  Do you use music to psych up for a sporting event? Should all spas play some type of relaxing and meditative music? Often collective consciousness plays a role in these decisions. Mozart has been played in halls of Malls in order to try and keep kids from loitering. Heavy metal has been used to drive people in hiding out of their lairs. Which bring me to a question. Most have seen the work of Masaru Emoto and his rapid freezing of water to form crystals after the water has been exposed to 'words' or 'music'. Well, what if the observer was to be somebody different than Emoto? If the observer was a Metal-head, Heavy metal music may form a beautiful crystal while classical music may not crystalize at all. Or is this again affected in some way by collective consciousness as well! Music can be a mood enhancer where it steers the Central Nervous system towards a particular condition. Whether it is rock music to get ready for the big game, classical music to enhance the fine dining experience, or some soft music in the background 'to set the mood'. Resonance may be either positive or negative.
Another factor which influences our taste in music is its "meaning", or what it is saying to you. Music, like visual images, has symbolism associated with it. For example, classical music may be seen by some as a type of Capitalistic oppression. There is a distinct hierarchy that is established. The conductor may be seen as the ruling aristocrat who leads the compliant musicians who, in turn, lead the compliant audience. It is very structured and ordered. Rock and Roll, on the other hand, has associations to rebellion against the status quo. It sets up barriers between the generations and tries to create equality among all. It is more spontaneous and free- think of those rock festivals of the 1960's. Jazz has some association with cafes, drugs and beat-nicks. This is a natural place where BodyTalk could lead the client to an Active Memory. Is it the style of music or is it the words to a particular song that creates this memory? Personally, I have experienced many sessions where a song or a line from a song has popped into my head and lead me down a specific line of questioning!

Music can, and does, use up to 9 different regions of the Brain. It should be noted that some areas are only used when playing/performing music, but most are involved in listening to music. The motor cortex is used when the body becomes physically active-foot tapping, dancing or playing an instrument. The sensory cortex is involved in several ways. It processes tactile feedback from playing an instrument or dancing as well as receiving feedback from playing an instrument (wrong note/chord, sharp/flat, etc.). The auditory cortex is used in the first stages of listening to sound as well as in the perception and analysis of tones. The Hippocampus is involved in musical memory- playing without sheet music, remembering a song you have previously heard, musical experiences and contexts of the music. The visual cortex comes into play with the reading of sheet music. The cerebellum is activated with physical movements (dance, playing an instrument-including air guitar) as well as in our emotional response to the music. The Amygdala and the Nucleus Acumens are both also involved with our emotional reactions to the music. Finally, the Prefrontal cortex plays a role in the creation of our expectations concerning the music and any violation or satisfaction of those expectations.

The final place you may be taken to in a BodyTalk session with respect to sound is the "Other Modality" Bubble. There are numerous practices that focus on sound healing. Sound healing is defined as "a therapeutic application of sound frequencies to the Body/Mind of a person with the intention of bringing them into a state of harmony and health". Some examples of sound therapies include Tibetan Bowls, Chanting, Gongs, Flutes, Didgeridoo, Tuning Forks, and Drums. It will probably depend on what "Resonates" with the client! When that highest amplitude of frequency is achieved the Body/Mind is said to be in a state of Harmony- another musical term referring to the use of simultaneous tones, notes or chords. Usually a pleasant sound to the ear and occurring when there is a balance between tense and relaxed moments.

It is interesting to note that a cat's purr also has healing abilities. Cats create a purr that vibrates within a range of 20-140 Hertz, a range known to have medical therapeutic properties for many illnesses. It can lower stress, decrease the symptoms of dyspnea (a subjective experience of breathing discomfort that consists of qualitatively distinct sensations that vary in intensity), lower blood pressure, assist in healing bones, lower the risk of heart attack, heals infection and swelling, and healing of muscle, tendon and ligament injuries. So, if you are not a fan of cats, the next time one jumps into your lap don't look at it like the cat is being annoying, but that it may be offering you a healing session! 

"If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?"

Oh, what an egotistical, philosophical, human question! First of all, the potential for sound is there. The falling tree makes sound waves. Therefore, if there are any receptors, bugs, animals, etc. that can receive and process the sound waves, then yes, it does make a sound. Secondly, if they is no one there to hear it, (any life form), then there is no observer and, as we know through consciousness, if there is no observer, then there is nothing to observe and the tree does not exist. So what is falling?

"Listen. Can you hear it? The music. I can hear it everywhere. In the the the light. It's all around us. All you have to do is open yourself up. All you have to do... is listen."
                                  -August Rush

Dr. Donald Burry
B.P.H.E., MSc., Ph.D., BFA, MSI, CBP, Parama BP

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