As we saw in the first part of this series, using sound as a tool for healing is almost as old as civilization itself. In recent times, this traditional therapy has proven effective in many areas of health and wellness, and is gaining acceptance in modern medicine; but understanding why sound therapy works might still seem somewhat mystical. Today we will probe into the theories and science behind it.
It’s no secret that sound is made up of vibrations, and the rate of sound’s vibration is called its resonant frequency, generally measured in Hertz (Hz). Scientists have discovered that everything in the universe is actually vibrating. Objects, organisms, planets, and even our internal organs and thoughts all have a resonant frequency. Depending on our circumstances and how we deal with them, it is possible to fall out of sync with our optimum frequency, often manifesting as discomfort or symptoms of illness.
Vibrations are not merely heard with our ears, but felt throughout the entire body (even at the microscopic level), and vibrations of one specimen can affect others in its vicinity. In this way, it is believed that beneficial frequencies can be used to recalibrate, harmonize, and stimulate self-healing. Which frequencies are best is a fascinating topic for discussion.
The Solfeggio Frequencies
The solfeggio frequencies are a musical scale with an ancient and profound spiritual origin. A hymn written in the 700s to Saint John the Baptist, features a series of rising notes are used in the first stanza:
“Ut queant laxis, Resonare fibris, Mira gestorum, Famuli tuorum, Solve polluti, Labii reatum” (“So that Your servants may sing at the top of their voices the wonders of Your acts, and absolve the fault from their stained lips.”)
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These notes were eventually named by the first syllable of each phrase, and constitute the original six-note solfeggio scale — the foundation for the moving spiritual chants of Gregorian monks and an important traditional tool for teaching music. In the spiritual community, they were understood to be a divine instrument for healing.
The scale commonly used in Western music today, ”do re mi fa so la ti,” evolved from the addition of a seventh note to the solfeggio scale. With the adoption of a 12-tone chromatic scale in the 16th century — adding half steps for equal temperament – the solfeggio scale was largely forgotten.
Interest in this ancient scale was renewed in the 1970s, when naturopath Dr. Joseph Puleo uncovered an extraordinary mathematical connection between these notes and specific chronologically presented verses from The Bible’s “Book of Numbers.”
Using the Pythagorean system of numerical reduction, Puleo discovered a pattern that revealed, in order, the resonant frequencies for each of the six notes in the solfeggio scale. Working with experienced sound therapist David Hulse, the tones were linked with specific areas of spiritual healing.
Ut – 396 Hz – Liberating guilt and fear, turning grief into joy
Re – 417 Hz – Undoing situations and facilitating change
Mi – 528 Hz – Transformation, miracles, and DNA repair
Fa – 639 Hz – Spiritual connections, relationships
Sol – 741 Hz – Cleansing, solutions, expression
La – 852 Hz – Returning to spiritual order
In 1999 Puleo and Hulse published a book called Healing Codes for the Biological Apocalypse, publicizing their fascinating findings. A flurry of research ensued, and sound-therapy has since gained much recognition and credibility. Besides the six core solfeggio frequencies, the authors calculated three additional frequencies according to the same pattern to complete “The Perfect Circle of Sound” (nine being a sacred number).
174 Hz – Reduce pain, alleviate stress
285 Hz – Influence energy, rejuvenation
963 Hz – Awaken crown, spirit
Of these nine frequencies, 528 stands out for its uncanny connections with the world around us. This frequency is found in the vibrations of chlorophyll collecting sunlight, the buzzing of bees pollinating flowers, the geometry of spirals (including our DNA double helix), and is essential to the mathematical constants pi and phi.
Given these powerful relationships, it is believed that experiencing 528 Hz can help us harmonize on many levels with the natural world, and even have miraculous healing effects.
A similarly touted frequency (432 Hz) is not included in the solfeggio frequencies, but proponents believe it is equally powerful — as it relates directly to the Schumann resonance.
The Schumann Resonance and 432 Hz
The Schumann resonance is often referred to as the Earth’s heartbeat. This electromagnetic resonance between the Earth’s surface and the ionosphere’s inner edge was first measured in 1952 by German physicist Winifried Otto Schumann. He found a steady vibration with a resonant frequency averaging around 7.83. In more recent years, NASA determined the current terrestrial frequency to be approximately 8 Hz. Both fall within the range of Theta brainwaves — those which make us feel relaxed, but conscious and intuitive.
Long before the Schumann resonance was discovered, French physicist Joseph Sauveur devised a tuning system using even integers, where each octave of C lands on a whole number. Using this method, Middle C (C4) ends up resonating at 256 Hz, and Middle A (A4) at 432 Hz. Many sound therapy advocates hold that instruments tuned to 432 yield music that is grounding, balanced and harmonious — because 432 is a multiple of the “earth’s heartbeat” and thus these frequencies resonate with one another.
Prior to 1713 and the introduction of Sauveur’s tuning method, there was no standard method of tuning, and this new practice opened the door for symphony orchestras, whereby many instruments could be played together harmoniously. As orchestras became more popular, however, they began to compete with one another.
Because higher tones were perceived as more exciting, pitch inflation was common, and the 432 Hz standard was often compromised. In response to this trend, and recognizing the practicality of a standard, the American Standards Association recommended 440 Hz as the tuning standard for middle A in 1936. Within decades, it was adopted as an international standard, despite some of the most celebrated composers and musicians advocating for a standard of 432 Hz.
This discrepancy, and the fact that 440 tuning is thought by some to have negative psychological impacts, gave rise to some interesting (yet unconfirmed) conspiracy theories.
440 Hz conspiracy theories
As a multiple of 8, theoretically 440 would also resonate with the Schuman resonance; but it does not fall within the family of sacred vibrations. Going back to numerology, the digits 4 + 3 + 2 add up to nine, often considered the most sacred and powerful number. All of the Solfeggio frequencies were numerologically deduced from a sacred source, while 440 Hz was arbitrarily designated by man — and against the wishes of some of the most gifted musicians of the time.
Rather than using whole integers, this scale introduces messy decimals, and deviates from the Schumann resonance on multiple notes. Many deem this tuning method to actually be dis-harmonic — and in its universal application, harmful to humankind. So why was it accepted as the norm?
One theory is that the Rothschild family funded musician and alleged member of US Naval Intelligence John Calhoun Degan to convince the American Federation of Musicians to endorse such a move in order to manipulate and control the general public.
Another is that the prime minister of propaganda for the Third Reich Joseph Goebbels initiated the use of 440 Hz in his mission to induce fear and hostility in the masses.
Both credit this frequency with the ability to influence the mind. Although there is little evidence of the purported negative effects of 440 Hz tuned music, studies comparing the two frequencies have shown that 432 can decrease heart rate, blood pressure, and anxiety — leading to a more calm and peaceful mind. Yet music isn’t the only way to achieve these benefits.
Mantras and thought frequency
In ancient India, sacred words or phrases revealed to sages when deep in meditation were called mantras, derived from Sanskrit manas, or “mind,” and tra, “instrument or tool.” Mantras are chanted with the goal of clearing the mind and opening the heart to connect with the divine. Unlike affirmations, a commonly used tool for self improvement, mantras are strictly spiritual in nature. The most common and universal mantra is “Om.”
Om is said to be the consciousness of the Creator, and the origin of the universe. Variations of Om (pronounced “Aum”) appear in different faiths around the world — Amen, Shalom and Omkar, are a few examples. True mantras are chanted in the Sanskrit language from which they were conceived, paying careful attention to the proper pronunciation; but religious followers may chant prayers or selected pieces of scripture in their own tongue for a similar effect.
Like all sounds, vocal mantras create vibrations, and chanting them can help one resonate with the cosmos. Yet sound in this case may be secondary to thought. Chanting is an exercise in mindfulness, and your thoughts must align with your intentions.
While it is not yet possible to accurately measure the frequency of thoughts, vibrational energy experts hold that positive thoughts — such as acceptance, compassion, gratitude and joy — carry a high vibrational frequency; while negative thought patterns — such as anger, fear, jealousy, resentment and shame — have a low vibrational frequency. Regardless of their frequency, studies have shown a clear link between such thoughts and our well-being.
Thus, maintaining the proper mindset when chanting Om or any other mantra is what makes it effective; and although chanting mantras can certainly help improve your spiritual receptivity and concentration, when your heart is pure and your mind is focused, silent chanting can be many times more effective than vocal chanting.