What is Sound Medicine?
Sound as medicine is a therapeutic approach to healing that incorporates the use of various instruments such as singing bowls, chimes, drums, and voice – to name a few – as a method to support individuals or groups in slowing the mind, calming the nervous system and becoming present within the moment’s opportunity for healing. It can encourage the process of multi-level, multi-dimensional and intracellular healing, because of its ability to surpass the barriers of physical matter and the conscious mind, communicating directly with the subconscious.
Music and sound hold true power and historical significance, creating a profound impact within our lives, communities, and individual bodies. Modern research into sound has offered confirmation into what ancient traditions have known and practiced for centuries. Music is medicine and through evidence-based practice it has been shown to reduce pain, stress, blood pressure, anxiety, PTSD, and depression, to name a few.
Where does Sound Medicine come from? A Brief History:
As the practice of Sound and Vibration in modern medicine and healing circles has increased, it is first important to recognize and revere its early history. Sound Healing has an immensely vast historical footprint cross-culturally, and while it would not be possible to reflect its entire trail, it is important to acknowledge its ancient roots within Indigenous Shamanic practice. Additionally, its use has been documented in scriptures as early as 2000 BC in ancient Egypt. This offers an initial framework to detect the significance of music as medicine from historic cultures to the correlation within modern scientific research, its influence in today’s healing practices and what is available for you to experience at Thrive Massage & Bodywork.
The use of sound, voice and drum within Indigenous cultures remains a sacred practice today and offers us the wisdom of understanding its use for altering states of consciousness to “journey to the otherworld” as a way to access spiritual, emotional and physical healing and promote the health of their communities. Various indigenous and ancient cultures revered the medicinal & numinous sounds of the natural world, using voice or instruments to mimic these sounds such as rattles, rain sticks, ocean drums and chanting.
Among Native Americans within the First Nation, Dhani Ywahoo, Elder of the Sacred Cherokee Ywahoo Lineage states, “the voice is our greatest medicine. The power of voice, song, and prayer has the ability to draw life force into the body so that the person can become whole.” Within Native communities, drums are believed to be the heartbeat of Mother Earth. Instruments & melodic songs have been used among the !Kung & Shona Tribes of Southern Africa and the Dagara of West Africa within healing ceremonies and grief rituals. Prior to assimilation, ancient Northern European cultures used sound within healing ceremonies similar to that of the Native Americans. The Aboriginal Australians used an instrument called the yadiki, what we now refer to as the didjredoo, to heal broken bones, torn muscles and other illnesses. (Jacobson, M. 2012)
The Primordial Sound: Music as Mythology
Historians and Archeologists have discovered Egyptian temple carvings dedicated to Hathor, the goddess of music and transformation. Hathor is the equivalent in Vedic Texts to the Hindu Cow Goddess, Vac. Hathor or Vac is known as the Mother of the Vedas – who listens to the eternal music of creation – and her name Vac-Vaca-Voc is the root of the English term “voice.” In other words, Hathor is the Mother of the Logos, of voice and song. We see the wisdom of Hathor within the mythological story of Thoth, the oldest son of Ra, who hatched the “world egg” from the sound of his voice. (Williams, A. 2017, May 15) It is known in ancient Hindi texts, the Om is the primordial sound of creation; the initial vibration in which the universe became manifest. Synonymously, the well-known first verse of the Gospel of John in the New Testament of the Christian Bible reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
What Does Modern Research Say?
The famous Nikola Tesla, Siberian-American inventor and engineer, is known for saying “if you want to understand the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” Using this framework of “energy, frequency and vibration” to explore these concepts of sound at the intersection of neurobiology, we can loosely understand that neurons within the brain communicate with each other via electrical impulses. These impulses, called brainwaves, result in various functions from movement and breath to heart rate and sensation. Brainwaves – measured in hertz (Hz) or cycles of frequency per second – are named after their frequencies, ranging from low frequency correlating with deep sleep or meditative states all the way to high frequency states associated with wakefulness, information processing, cognitive reasoning, and insight. Due to its direct impact on the brain, an observational study done to examine the impact of Tibetan singing bowls on stress, tension, anxiety, and depression showed positive effects for its participants. (Goldsby, T. 2016).
Based on this general understanding, it is important to realize that sound can be an important tool in our daily lives and healing process. For many, stress is a detrimental factor that does not allow for restful sleep during the night, or relaxed states during down time (such as during a massage) when the body has its opportunity to repair and heal. Sound is being studied as a tool to reduce stress and promote public health. (Goldsby, T. 2020) Additionally, there is current research into the positive impact of music therapy on individuals suffering with PTSD. (Landis-Shack, N. 2017)
With the intentional incorporation of sound into a regular routine, we can induce useful brainwaves states dependent on the goal or outcome we are hoping to achieve. For example, delta waves can be used to enter deeper states of sleep for healing and regeneration; Alpha waves are generated during light relaxation states for greater access to imagination, memory, learning, and concentration, while theta wave states are ideal for reprogramming the subconscious mind and feeling transformative and unifying spiritual connection. (Karuna, M. 2016, June)
Other Perspectives on the Relationship between Sound and the Body
Another way to conceptualize the impact of sound on our bodies is to ponder the impression of these different frequencies on our organs, glands, cells, and energetic anatomy. Modern research has discovered that each organ and gland resonate at a different tone or frequency, in a similar way to the 5 Element Theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine. (National Research Nuclear University)
Additionally, recent research into mechanobiology has confirmed that human cells have resonate frequencies. This means that our cells vibrate (or move) at a rate which matches their natural frequencies. Due to the amplitude of these vibrations/teeny-tiny movements, they can be measured with modern technology. While more research is required, this powerfully increases the implications for sound healing because 1) The possibility of detecting disease by measuring changes within the cells vibration and therefore 2) Using the appropriate sound waves to destroy the diseased cells! (Large, H)
With this in mind, we can expand a step further and draw a satisfying connection to the Chakra system. The chakras are 7 energetic centers, resonating at different frequencies (low to high). While they go unseen to the human eye, they correlate with and govern different organ systems of the body and emotional experiences of the mind. From this perspective, certain physical or emotional imbalances – whether experienced by the person and/or detected through the cell’s amplified vibration — give us information as to a blockage within the energy system. Sound waves, therefore, directly impact the energy system because it speaks the same language: frequency & vibration. The energy centers can be thought of like a musical scale— from a low note to a high note.
The Solfeggio Scale
The Solfeggio Scale is known for its use as far back as Biblical times appearing within Gregorian Chants. A Benedictine monk, Guido d’Arezzo, introduced the scale which consisted of 6 frequencies: 396, 417, 528, 639, 741, and 852hz, all believed to have unique physical and spiritual healing benefits such as healing emotional trauma, repairing DNA, and balancing relationships.
It is documented that the scale was lost for a series of years for unknown and speculatory reasons and replaced with the 12 note chromatic musical scale we know today. The scale was rediscovered in the 1970s by Dr. Joseph Puelo through his examination of patterns within the Book of Numbers in the Old Testament of the Bible. Dr. Puelo was inspired to use Pythagorean math to rediscover the 6 musical tones correlating to the ancient Solfeggio Scale. He published his work with Dr. Leonard Horowitz, who later discovered 3 more tones using the same theory of mathematical patterns. Apart from the historical and spiritual significance of the tones, the healing attributes of the original 6 and modern 3 are as follows: (Solfeggio frequencies)
1. 396 Hz “Ut” – Liberating Guilt and Fear
2. 417 Hz “Re” – Undoing Situations and Facilitating Change
3. 528 Hz “Mi” –Transformation and Miracles (DNA Repair)
4. 639 Hz “Fa” –Re-connecting & Balancing Relationships
5. 741 Hz “Sol” – Solving Problems, Expression & Solutions
6. 852 Hz “La” – Awakening Intuition & Returning to Spiritual Order
7. 174 Hz – Security & Comfort
8. 285 Hz – Cellular Repair &Immunity
9. 963 Hz – Higher Consciousness
What can we provide here at Thrive Massage & Bodywork?
Sound at the intersection of therapeutic massage can promote profound states of healing on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels. At Thrive Massage & Bodywork, we incorporate Solfeggio Scale Tuning Forks and a 528hz Crystal Singing Bowl into a Sound & Vibration Massage Session to support clients’ process of whatever brings them to the table.
The Solfeggio Scale Tuning Forks additionally have the effect of creating a visceral vibration when placed on the body. If you wish to experience a full Chakra Attunement, book a session with Jaclyn. She will also incorporate the use of the 528 Hz Quartz Crystal Singing Bowl to create a sound bath experience with the soothing tones of the “miracle vibration” for DNA healing and repair. Scientific research has evidence to suggest the stress-inducing effects of the 528hz frequency on the endocrine and autonomic nervous system. Read more here – Effect of 528 Hz Music on the Endocrine System and Autonomic Nervous System (scirp.org). Additional sound tools may be incorporated throughout the massage.
Based on its vast global, historical significance and use within modern medicine/alternative therapies, we are grateful for the opportunity to respectfully and joyously translate sound medicine here locally in Ann Arbor, Michigan directly to you on the massage table.
Jaclyn Rey, LMT
All sound healing tools are provided by LifeChangingEnergy.com
Goldsby, T. (2016). Effects of Singing Bowl Sound Meditation on Mood, Tension, and Well-being: An Observational Study. National Library of Medicine.
Goldsby, T. (2020). Eastern Integrative Medicine and Ancient Sound Healing Treatments for Stress: Recent Research Advances. National Library of Medicine.
Jacobson, M. (2012). Indigenous sound healing – Ancient Frequencies. Sound Healing Research Foundation. https://soundhealingresearchfoundation.org/indigenous-sound-healing/
Kaho, A. (2018). Effect of 528 Hz Music on the Endocrine System and Autonomic Nervous System. Scientific Research.
Karuna, M. (2016, June). How to manipulate brain waves for a better mental state: Jefferson Health. Jefferson Health – Greater Philadelphia & South Jersey Region. https://www.jeffersonhealth.org/your-health/living-well/how-to-manipulate-brain-waves-for-a-better-mental-state
Landis-Shack, N. (2017). Music Therapy for Posttraumatic Stress in Adults: A Theoretical Review.
Large, H. (2023, December 29). Our cells have resonant frequencies, and we might be able to hear them. IFLScience. https://www.iflscience.com/our-cells-have-resonant-frequencies-and-we-might-be-able-to-hear-them-72236
National Research Nuclear University. (2016, October 12). Scientists research effects of infrasonic vibrations in humans. Phys.org. https://phys.org/news/2016-10-scientists-effects-infrasonic-vibrations-humans.html
Solfeggio frequencies – history, Science & How They Work. MindVibrations. (2021, August 5). https://www.mindvibrations.com/solfeggio-frequencies/
Williams, A. (2017, May 15). Sound alchemy documentary – hermetic sound science – egyptian roots of modern sound healing. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQ83XWLKz7c