Modern science has confirmed that the universe is alive with vibration. From the subatomic level to the macrocosm, anything and everything including matter itself appears to be vibrating at its own unique frequency. While sound therapy and vibrational medicines are in many ways pioneering these studies, there is still much magic and mystery surrounding these topics. I’d like to use this opportunity to expand our collective awareness of harmonics and vibration by sharing some thrilling phenomena and cutting edge science! Hopefully you can use this information to spark your own wonder, or even better, to explore your own musical magic.
Let’s first discuss some terms. For example, what’s the difference between sound, vibration, and frequency? Vibration is a mechanical phenomenon, where by movement is occurring in a cyclical or oscillating pattern. Frequency measures the rate of vibration (Hz), or the rate in which these mechanical patterns occur.
Now we’ll define sound which is simply vibration. However, not all vibration is sound. That is because sound refers to only those vibrations which can be sensed by the human ear. You know the saying, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” The answer is no, because sound refers to a specific sensory organ’s perception of vibration. This raises several philosophical discussions of observable knowledge and human perception.
Let’s take it one step farther! Does a dog whistle make sound? Not to you. But to your dog’s ear, yes. Just as we interpret a small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum as visible light, we interpret a particular range of vibrations (20-20,000Hz) as audible sound. Think about radio waves, a measurable phenomenon not perceivable to the five senses, and how this discovery advanced technology and revolutionized communication. Similarly, ultrasound technology (which is employed by other biological life such as bats and dolphins) is used medically to detect tumors and monitor pregnancies.
We begin to realize sound is only one way in which we interact with vibration. Those who have never experienced sound therapy are most often surprised by how they can physically feel the vibrations resonating through their bodies. Consider the possibility that vibration is a mechanical manifestation that could be affecting us in ways currently unperceivable to the five senses.
This leads us to the study of cymatics! Essentially, this is the study of visible vibration and sound. By sending sound through a medium such as, flour, sand, and most often, water incredible geometric shapes are produced, revealing the organizational intelligence of vibration. Our bodies being composed of 70% water; one might consider the strong possibility that the cymatic process is going on within us at all times. What implications does this have? Scientists haven’t quite put their fingers on it yet. But one thing is clear– vibration transforms matter (because matter is vibration)!
Written by Baileigh Wilks
Sound Therapist, Musician & Educator
Image credit & copyright: Dan Bore. Cymatics.org