A sine wave, that is!
Happy New Year everyone!! I’m giving talks next weekend for the Recharge: Health Global Retreat, and have been preparing by researching more on the healing power of music. One of the most intriguing things I’ve come across is how music with rich high overtones will charge the brain with energy.
Acoustic instruments and voices are rich with high overtones, especially when heard in a cathedral-like space, designed to reflect and amplify overtones. I’ve always loved good reverb for recording, and now I know why! My brain gets charged.
But what are overtones, you might ask? Here’s one of the best videos I’ve seen to describe it.
Next weekend I’ll be sharing my own video to demonstrate overtones for the class, but the coolest thing for right now is this:
All pitched musical sounds are a combination of the fundamental (the original note you are singing or playing) and a theoretically infinite amount of overtones which are naturally present in the song of a bird, the resonance of a hollow tree, and our natural born voices.
The math is simple – the overtones occur at integer multiples of the fundamental’s frequency. For instance, the G string on my cello resonates at roughly 100 Hz, or cycles per second. The naturally occurring overtones (also called harmonics) show up at 200Hz, 300Hz, 400Hz, 500Hz…and so on.
And all overtones (including the fundamental), when isolated, turn out to be sine waves. You’ve heard sine waves in hearing tests and telephones. I’ll demonstrate the sine wave overtones of my voice compared to my cello during the class using a VoceVista frequency filter.
Another super cool thing – all synthesized sounds are created simply by using adding overtone sequence-related sine waves together. The individualized loudness of each overtone creates the unique timbre, or color of the instrument.
With sine waves as our building blocks, we ourselves become creators of vibration, of sound. It’s a powerful thing.
Speaking of creation and vibration, check out how the Gospel of John begins:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”John 1:1-5
Have you ever wondered what the Word meant? The teachings of yoga explain how this universe is made of vibrations, from the subtlest of causal thought, to the astral energies vibrating at a faster rate, to the material world, where vibrations create what seem like solid bodies. The “Word” is the ultimate vibration of creation, referred to as AUM or Amen, heard in the stillness of deep meditation.
Human vision beholds individuality and separateness everywhere. The more ego bound we are, the more separate we believe ourselves to be. It is hard to hear others when we are stuck in ourselves. But if we can develop expanded hearing, we begin to perceive the oneness of all things. We begin to be able to hear, or better yet, to listen and relate to the realities of others.
The sine wave is the key.
Each of our voices have the exact same building blocks of sine waves. If you and I were to sing the same note and then play them back using a sound spectrum analyzer, we’d be able to see and hear the same sine waves present in each of our voices. You wouldn’t be able to tell whose overtones were whose until you start adding them all up together.
Even the voices of those with the least in common (socially, politically, racially, you name it) are built with the same overtone sine waves.
By tuning into these universal building blocks of sound, we expand our awareness, our sympathies, our ability to touch underlying unity.
So in this new year, when charging our brains to actively listen to our bodies, each other and the earth is so crucial, how can we use these sine waves to our best advantage?
Try overtone singing. This might seem weird, but I’m finding it has a very energizing effect. Just find a place to practice alone!
Better yet, use the intention to actively listen to the overtones of your voice and instrument, and of the music that you use. Even though you won’t be able to necessarily single out the different overtones, just the intention will begin to open you up in ways that you might not be able to describe. For me, it feels like my heart, throat and brain become very still, yet energized and open.
To amplify your own listening experience, expand your listening receptivity. Relax your body, especially your heart, throat and jaw. Absorb your music, like what I’ver recorded below, with openness on the cellular level.
And taking it even further, imagine the overtones of consciousness. Sympathy, compassion, and friendship are all created by different overtones of the universal vibration of Love.
Perhaps Love is the sine wave we’re all looking for in 2021.
May you find it in your voice, in your music, in your life.