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What is Psychoacoustics?
By Tom Kenyon

Psychoacoustics, a newly emerging field of human potential technology, promises to radically affect human behaviour through its study of sound, language, and music and their effects on the brain/mind. You will notice that we write brain/mind linked together. This is based on Dr. Carl Pribram's view of the brain and "the mind," which is that "the mind" is a process that runs parallel to physiological processes within the brain.

Thus it is possible to have a brain without a mind, as in a cadaver, but it is not possible to have a mind without a functioning brain -- at least not the way we normally think of mental/emotional experience. (This is not to say that there may not be some aspect of consciousness that operates independently of brain processing, simply that brain processing is crucial to normal everyday experience.) In the following pages we would like to introduce some of the basic concepts in Psychoacoustics.

Sound and Music
For centuries music and sound have been used for "healing" and transformation. From the guttural chanting of ancient shamans to the lofty Gregorian chants of the cathedrals, sound and music have played a central role in the culture of humanity. Only recently have we begun to understand the physiological effects of sound and music on the brain. In the following section we will discuss their background and ramifications in the technology of Psychoacousatics.

We know that music can play a crucial role in brain processing. The work of Dr. Lozanov in Bulgaria confirms this. He discovered that music at 60 beats per minute, as used in the Largo movements of Barouqe music, increased alpha activity by 6% (associated with relaxation) and decreased beta activity (normal waking state) by 6%. Pulse slowed by an average of 4 divisions of mercury. Subjects reported a "relaxed awareness".

In a study conducted by Dr. Sue Chapman at a New York City Hospital, the response of premature infants to music was studied. One group listened to Brahms lullaby (stringed version) six times a day, while a control group listened to nothing. The group of infants who listened to Brahms gained weight faster, had fewer complications and were released from the hospital an average of a week earlier than those babies who did not listen to Brahms.

What happened?
From the perspective of Psychoacoustics it is very clear. The architecture of the music, the rhythm and the timbre all created changes in brain processing through stimulation of the auditory pathways. These changes in the infants' brain processing greatly reduced their stress levels, thereby allowing their natural 'healing' abilities to engage more efficiently than those in the control group.

The vibratory nature of sound and music creates a language that the body and mind understands. By language we do not mean 'words', we mean 'information'. Indeed our word 'information' comes from the Latin stem 'informare' which means form or shape. From this perspective, music is a process of changing acoustic shapes and forms. If you were to look at the shapes and forms made by music you would see organic shapes reminiscent of mountains, valleys, trees, micro-organisms and galaxies.

As with all language there is the concept of syntax. Normally syntax is a term reserved for written or spoken speech. It refers to the order in which words appear. If you change the order of words in a sentence, you change the meaning. This concept can also be extended to music.

If you scramble the notes in a musical composition, you have changed it. The order of the information (notes) in music is just as crucial as the order of the information (words) in speech. When we think of sound and music as a language, or sets of information, we see new possibilities for understanding its effects on the brain/mind.

Sound and music also has a profound impact on emotional problems and learning difficulties, as shown by the work of Dr. Tomatis in France. In the course of his work, he discovered the effects of high frequencies on brain processing, emotional problems and blocks to learning.

At the Beckman Research Institute in Duarte, California, noted geneticist Dr. Ohno has ascribed musical notes to each of the 6 amino acids that make up the DNA code. Dr.Ohno has been able to transcribe the "music" made by the DNA helixes in living things. These sound patterns are not random, but actually make melodies. In one of his experiments, he transcribed the melody of a particular type of cancer. The melody had an uncanny similarity to a piece of music written in the 17th century-Chopin's Funeral March. Had Chopin "intuited" this melody from nature itself?

The importance of sound and music on brain processing is significant to the field of Psychoacoustics. By looking at the changes in brain states and behaviors elicited through sound, language and music, we can more fully understand these phenomena.

Psychoacoustics is in its infancy, and we are only now beginning to understand the precision in which sound patterns can affect brain and cellular processes. It is an exciting time, and ABR is totally committed to the scientific exploration and understanding of Psychoacoustic theory and technology.

By using language within the context of this grammar, we are able to 'speak' to the unconscious mind in its own language. This language of the unconscious mind is characterized by its use of metaphors. Metaphors have much deeper and more global associations than cognitive type (normal) sentences.

For instance, if someone were to say to you, "I love you," you would know what was meant. However, if a metaphor was used, the communication would have more depth. For instance, "I love you as a river must love the sea, rushing, pushing ever onward.... I am drawn to you."

This is the essence of poetry, and it is also a means by which we can greatly accelerate change. Fundamental changes in behaviors and attitudes will occur with the use of metaphors. By speaking to the unconscious mind on its own terms, we can increase the depth of mental and emotional processes.

Research Data Anecdotal
We have received reports from listeners of our tapes that titles such as Wave Form produce relaxed states of awareness. They have reported floating feelings, deep muscular relaxation, the reduction of perceived pain, profound feelings of peace and calmness, and pronounced increases in pleasurable states. These anecdotal reports have been physiologically explained by studies such as the Neuromap-ping described previously.

Robert Anton Wilson, an author, reported in Magical Blend magazine that he gave one of the tapes from the Psycho-Immunology series to a movie producer under tremendous stress. After a week of listening to the tape, the producer said he "felt like a new man", and "as if [he] had taken a vacation."

Furthermore, Wilson reported that he found the tapes more stimulating and effective than brain machines. This is another effect reported anecdotally from a number of listeners. The Psycho-Immunology tapes seem to create all types of transformational experiences. Theoretically this may be explained by the broad range of frequency stimulation as well as by increased bodily awareness. Usage of the tapes seems to increase sensitivity to internal sensations.

This copy is reproduced with the kind permission of Tom Kenyon and you can find out more about sound healing at www.tomkenyon.com Tom's CD's Sound Transformations and Imaginarium are available in the Soothingminds shop