The Use Of Harmonies In Therapeutic Sound Healing
What are musical harmonies, or harmonics? How do they occur, and why are they so beneficial to use in simple Therapeutic Sound Healing techniques?
Listen below to these basic harmonies that can benefit your practice.
The harmonic relationship in each of the clips has been understood and used for thousands of years, found in many different civilizations. Certainly, just as every culture across the world can recognize the happiness in a smile, every culture can hear the harmony within the union of these frequencies. The harmony in these clips is the first harmonic we recommend, called ‘the perfect fifth.’ Its musical relationship causes a sense of wellness or relaxation for the listener. Musicians have known this throughout time, and have used it worldwide, because of its sense of balance, harmony, and beauty. Harmonies are about ‘relationship’ and ‘proportion.’ They are created by simple mathematical proportions between each sound. There are many other harmonies that can also be used, due to their simple mathematical relationship, but especially because they invoke a pleasing sensation. Therapeutically, because the harmonics create a visceral sense of wellness, balance, relaxation, or beauty, they are an excellent tool to use in your practice.
Just listening, the listener will tend to entrain to the beautiful state they invoke. Entrainment is a well understood scientific principle of sound, in which the listener ‘attunes’ to the sounds perceived. It is an inherent neurological response used in other therapies as well. We may entrain to even deeper states of meditation or relaxation to the harmonies through our own states of awareness, and use them as a gateway for relaxation, release into spaciousness or other meditative states, and allow inner happiness to be created and expressed. Harmonic relationships provide a simple method to relax, ease into our meditative journeys, as well as other applications in our therapeutic modalities.
What Are Harmonies Really? - The Beautiful Sound Of Simple Proportions
There are different geometric ways to understand the movement of sound through space. One way we can understand sound is as a sine wave, with a peak and valley, as shown in the picture below.
When a sound sine wave completes both a peak and valley, this is considered one cycle. The picture above is of one cycle. The number of cycles the sound completes per second is its hertz value (hz). The picture below is a depiction of sound at 1hz, or one cycle per second. (Typically music instruments create hz values between 100 and 800, though we are using simple hz values like 1hz and 2hz for simple understanding).
Higher sounds are higher in hz value, so they complete more cycles per second. Lower sounds are lower in hz value, so they complete less cycles per second. Below you can see the lower sounding 3hz note completes 3 cycles per second, while the higher sounding 4hz note completes 4 cycles per second.
With this understanding of sound as a sine wave and hz frequencies, we can start to understand the nature of harmonies. When the sine waves of two sounds complete at the same point frequently, they are audibly and geometrically harmonic. A simple example of this is made below. One of the notes is 1hz, the other note is 2hz. This is the simplest of harmonies, known as the octave, where the higher hz values is double the lower hz value. The two sine waves connect in a ratio of 2/1, and complete in line with each of very frequently (every second).
Below you can find an example for the 4 major harmonies, called the octave, fifth, fourth and third, and you can see how frequently each of the higher hz frequencies meet with the lowest 1st frequency for these major harmonics.
Generally the simpler the mathematical proportion, or the more frequent the higher and lower tones complete together, the more harmonic they sound together. In the sound files below, you can hear these four major harmonics. Also, you can hear the harmonic relationship represented by the proportions 6/5, 7/6, 8/7 and 9/8. Listen to one after another to hear the harmonies in progression. You can hear how the harmonic quality decreases as the two tones begin to meet with greater infrequency. The fundamental tone in all these examples is A at 222hz.
Thus, you have a harmony, or two sine waves meeting with great frequency in simple mathematical proportion. Remarkably, our ears hear this simple proportion, and as the proportions get more complex, our ears hear this decline of harmony as well. What this means is that as the sound travels into our ears, and is translated into an electrical signal in our brain, we literally hear uplifted beauty in the simple proportion and connection of the two sounds. This is understood neurologically to actually ‘nourish’ us. As the sounds meet more infrequently, like the 9/8 relationship in the sound file above, the sounds get darker and more dissonant. Dissonant wave forms have a different neurological reaction, and can also be used therapeutically, especially to clear, dismiss, or resolve feeling states, for instance.
Why And How Should I Use Harmony Therapeutically?
The why and how of using harmonies therapeutically is very simple. The sound of harmonics represents the same quality of experience that we wish to be experiencing in our life, a simple easy opening or uplifting, that we can all hear and understand. By listening to the sound of the harmonics, we can more easily access states of relaxation and happiness, and in turn access states of clarity and spaciousness. Thus, they can easily be used to integrate into a practice, to deepen the listener’s experience. By coupling effective methods of meditation, states of inner awareness, or processing of feeling states, this can greatly enhance our practice or therapeutic model.
Harmonics can be used with many instruments: quartz crystal singing bowls, Himalayan singing bowls, drums, flutes, bells, chimes, tuning forks, etc. For a client, you could simply strike two harmonic crystal bowls or tuning forks, and ask them to relax into the sound. Just this alone can help bring an immediate sense of ease of stress and deeper relaxation. In many of the meditations we lead with quartz crystal singing bowls, we use only two bowls that play in harmony together. This fills the environment with a joyful tone, that all participants can then use in the guided meditation to more readily bring them into the desired states. The harmony helps clients relax, and bring their attention to greater clarity and focus. Sound Healing truly does not need to be a complicated array of musical notes and instruments. It can be as simple as creating rich beautiful sounds with harmonics, and then using that as an anchor to strengthen one's state of meditation.
Harmonics are a tool that we can pair alongside other therapeutic approaches as well. We work with acupuncturists, yoga instructors, psychologists, medical practitioners, massage therapists, and other energy workers who are all using sound as a simple tool for easement. We view the use of harmonics as a great place to start for beginners, and experienced professionals, though also an excellent tool for the most experienced practitioners. They are simple, and their use is not complicated nor need great detail nor musical understanding. Just use them, enjoy, relax, breathe and find the spaciousness within.
Each of our crystal bowl harmonics sets come with at least 3 educational videos, for using a single bowl, voice, and a harmonic set. We also offer 1 on 1 professional training to further your practice, whether just beginning or advanced in your work. We also have in depth full year on line sound healing training (these will be re-initiated as in person training when possible to do so again.)