<> Essays on Sound + Music <>
I like to share and pass on what I have learned about music, art and healing over the years during my life in various countries and many different situations. Some of this is my own experience and other things are what people from different cultures and belief systems told or taught me. I also picked up some waves by tuning intuitively into Cosmic Radio which transmits not only music but also all kinds of information from the infinite cosmic pool of omni-versal knowing.
Some of this is difficult to communicate with words, but I will try my best, and of course there are also a lot pictures and music
May your environment around you, the music you choose and the sounds around you make your life a happy one! Often you have the freedom of choice to change things. You also have a voice, let it be heard.
(unfinished essay by Thomas Wiegandt)
Music and sounds are vibrations with different wavelengths whose frequencies are measured in Hertz (Hz). Sound is an audible sensation and is atmospheric and less organized than music, which has structures as keys, scales, time signatures, rhythms, phrases and melodies. There is a flowing transition between sound and music. Sound is a more primal, audible phenomenon than music and resonates with the deeper levels of a living being. Certain specific frequencies of the unimaginable multitude of clusters of cosmic vibrations that exist in the vastness of the universe resonate with the emotions of the soul of a living being.
These vibrations manifest or can be experienced as sound and music, if they are not being suppressed or ignored by the person that receives that vibrational message. It is a natural process happening to every (human) being, not only to musicians. A true musician is everybody who is open and receptive to recognize and allow the expression of sound and music in a personal way. Everybody's soul and feelings are unique, but at the same time are also quite similar and not all that different after all.
True and honest music played spontaneously from the heart and not for money and fame is a universally understood language and an expression of the soul that unites people despite of differences in culture, language, belief system and outer appearance. Music and sound move people and people move to music and sound.
Music is one type of soul food. Everybody needs soul food, but everybody needs the right music and sounds that suit their soul at a particular moment in time. The right music and sound improve the quality of life of an individual person. The needs and preferences of different human being regards music and sound can be almost identical but also completely different, depending on their momentary disposition. It is useful to note which emotions are evoked by different kinds of music and sound and how a person reacts to them. It is important to also realize that all music and sound ultimately lead in to silence which can be called the other or hidden side of music. Music and sound originate from silence …..
Music, sound and silence are a personal and individual self-responsible choice of a person to enhance life quality in an appropriate way.
Resonance is the phenomenon that activates another dormant vibration with the same wavelength or frequency. It works like radio or TV which receives waves from a transmitter or broadcaster. A person can make the strings of a guitar or piano sound just with their voice, without touching the strings. In the same way sound and music are picked up by a person's soul by receiving cosmic vibrations and expressing them with the voice or a musical instrument. This is happening all the time anyway but everybody can also consciously open up to this. I call this transmission process through resonance Cosmic Radio.
(Click here for an article by Thomas Wiegandt as a response to the Hearing Voices conference in Cork City, Ireland 10-11-06)
The western world with its predominantly materialistic view of today’s world classifies someone who hears voices as being schizophrenic, meaning someone with a split personality, who is a scare and potential danger to the community. Most voice hearers in our society are either on medication as a standard measure or institutionalized. The majority of voice hearers stay in that situation over a long period of time and become even more isolated and marginalized. There are hardly any options available even to the ones who don\t agree to the common routine of being numbed by chemicals just to function. There is generally not much of a therapeutical approach or a thorough research of the phenomenon of voice hearing in order to help a fellow human being to cope with the situation or to improve it.
Hearing voices is an individual phenomenon, which can vary greatly. Voices can range from evil and threatening to benevolent and spiritually guiding. It can appear at any stage of the life for obvious or unknown reasons or it can be drug-induced. A thorough and open-minded individual research of the voice hearing is fundamental to develop coping strategies.
As hearing voices is a social stigma in our society a lot of voice hearers have gone ?under cover? early in their lives to avoid being classified, ridiculed and bullied as being crazy or mad. They would generally not speak about hearing voices, even not to their close ones. It’s a fair guess to assume that there are a lot of voice hearers among us that fall into this category, who obviously would have a wide range of coping mechanisms to live their lives with little or no outside help.
Our western industrial civilisation with its mainly materialistic and egocentric philosophy and its alienation from nature is a fairly recent developement in the history of mankind. For at least 50000 years people in tribal societies all over the world have lived in harmony with nature in their environments. Their philosophy was animistic, which means that they believed that everything around them was alive and had a soul and feelings. Even today some tribal people in very remote places still live in that ancient way according to their shamanic belief systems. In the animistic world everything is alive, which includes the earth and the universe and all invisible forces. It is therefor important to maintain good relationships to all beings. This ancient belief is known as shamanism, a religion that existed long before today’s world religions came into existence, a belief where all levels or parts of a being – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual – are equally acknowledged and dealt with.
The shaman, being priest, healer, advisor in personal and social matters, artist and musician all in one person, is the key figure in a tribal society. One of his important tasks is to make contact with the spirit world or the otherworld to communicate with the forces thought responsible for the different aspects of life and the well-being of all. Hearing voices is the listening part of the shamanic communication with the higher forces much in the same way as the privileged or chosen followers of all world religions hear the voices of God, the angels or the saints and prophets. Voice hearing has been always and still is considered as being close to the spirit or God and is part of a dialogue.
If people today, regardless of the conventions of our society, can accept and believe for themselves that a human being has a body, feelings, a mind and a soul or spirit, then there is generally no problem with hearing voices from other realities than just the material level. Hearing voices is an invitation to enter a dialogue and talk to the voice like you would to a real person, most of us have done this as children already, before it became a taboo. Even if some voices are malicious or threatening, there is no big difference to any scary situation in our everyday world, as we can react by voicing our opinion in various ways, by fighting back or asking others for help.
To openly talk about hearing voices is important to bring the issue into the open and to eventually lift the existing taboo, especially as there are more voice hearers than we think out there anyway. It is equally essential to talk to the voices, which will most of the time set a process in motion, that will improve the situation. Some voice hearers would, especially in the beginning, need support with any new step they are going to make. Local peer group meetings and workshops are as important as the availability of open-minded, experienced and responsible therapists, who preferably work with a compassionate holistic approach.
Shamans in tribal societies have used sound along with other practices as an effective remedy for thousands of years to get in contact with ?voices? and to communicate with the invisible world. Sound resonates in the body and the soul and changes our consciousness and the state of our whole being profoundly. Certain sounds and rhythms reduce the overactivity of our mind and allow us to drop more into our body. This can bring about positive change by dissolving stagnant energy and connecting with forgotten events earlier in life. Sound Healing ultimately restores harmony, which is the natural, unharmed and happy state of being.
Detailed information on Sound Healing can be found on www.drums-ireland.com (Thomas Wiegandt works as a music therapist using sound in a shamanic way for healing purposes and has treated clients with many different conditions – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
He has worked for the Health Board, Rehab Care, CoAction, Schizophrenia Ireland and various youth organisations.)
(This information is a combination of tribal wisdom, western science and my own conclusions from working with sounds for myself and with clients since 1988)
"Sound Healing ultimately restores harmony, which is the natural, unharmed and happy state of being."
- Sound is vibration, vibration is movement, movement is life
- Sound penetrates and vibrates most materials, especially fluids. Examples: You can hear music from inside of a concrete building with all doors and windows closed outside on the street. If you hit a singing bowl filled with water with a soft mallet the water is vibrated so much that it sprays high into the air. The human body is made up of over 80% of fluids. A singing bowl placed on a body and with a soft mallet will vibrate each cell. The sound acts on a cellular level, removing blocks and stale and stagnant energy and this revitalising parts of the body that had been paralysed by trauma or shock.
- Humans are 18 times more alert to audio signals than to visual signals.
- Humans use mainly sound for communication and to pass on information.
- Sound is vibration, vibrations are waves, waves have different frequencies(Hertz). By these characteristics sound itself is information.
- Sound waves work in similar structures to ripples in water, caused by a pebble thrown into calm water.
- Sound works on all levels: you hear it, you feel it physically and emotionally and it can also be a spiritual experience. This is a traditional knowledge in many different cultures in West Africa, Indonesia, the Aboriginals in Australia and the American Native Indians amongst others.
- Sound can stir up all sorts of states and feelings, it can relax or excite. Sound can be used systematically using specific frequencies and qualities on an individual and or communal basis.
- Sound has been used for healing purposes since thousands of years by tribal societies with animistic or shamanic belief systems. It has been used for the whole community or tribe as well as for individuals. It has also been used as a preventative medicine. (West Africa, Bali, etc.)
- Sound can be used for general relaxation as well as to treat a specific problem.
- Sound can get a person into contact with an earlier event through resonance, which is hitting the same frequencies. This makes it an ideal tool to access trauma and bottled down events. By revisiting these places at a later stage in a gentle way, grief and pain can often be dealt with in a constructive and healing way in the now.
- Sound can be specifically directed to a particular part of the body by oneself or another person.
- Sound can be produced with the voice or a musical instrument by oneself or another person. Ideal are singing bowls, drums, rain sticks, calimbas, etc.
- Sound is information in the form of vibrations: Sound is vibration information. Anything that happens is a combination of vibrations and this information is stored in the body on a cellular level as well as on a soul level.
- Vision brings our awareness out of our body, into a distance away from us. Sound however is a send and receive mechanism, a 2-way communication system to share and exchange vibration information.
(an article by Thomas Wiegandt 2005)
Drumming is one of the oldest form of music on our planet and is a sophisticated community art.
Rhythm comes natural and people of all age groups and backgrounds just love playing drums and learn it very quickly.
Drumming is both, a lot of fun as well as educational, and it has successfully been used in schools, team building, festivals, community and youth projects as well as in therapeutic groups.
Everybody can do it, it is a lot of fun and is also energising as well as relaxing!
Drums and percussions are the musical instruments used to play rhythmic patterns and structures. Drums are instruments in which an animal skin is stretched tightly across a frame or container of wood or metal to produce a percussive and resonating sound when struck either with hands or sticks. Percussion instruments are bells, gongs, shakers, or any resonant objects available. Drums and percussions are played usually in an ensemble and there is a great variety of instruments from many different cultures. The most popular drum today is the goblet shaped Djembe drum from West-Africa due to its fantastic sound range.
Humans are poly-rhythmic beings living in a poly-rhythmic world. Our personal rhythms created by our heartbeat, our breathing, our brawniness and the trembling of cells as well as the rhythms of sleeping and waking, eating and digesting, working and resting, are inseparably connected to the rhythm cycles of our planet like the returning of day and night, the waxing and waning of the moon, the rising and falling of tides, the turning of the seasons and the moving of the sun and the stars. The marriage of dancing and drumming is in its essence a process of embodying the rhythms of life, nature and the universe through movement and sound. By celebrating life’s and nature’s cycles man re-creates the interdependence and interconnection of all existence. Today’s alienation from nature, caused by industrialisation, economic growth and technology, and the resulting frantic western life style makes many of us now searching for a rhythm that feels natural and relates harmoniously to our personal pulses. The awakening rhythm-consciousness can be seen as a healing response to the loss of even rhythms in our disruptive and fast changing culture.
Everybody from around 6 years of age onwards can learn to drum and it is easy to get started, because everybody got rhythm! Drumming is a lot of fun and very empowering. After only 2 or 3 hours people are drumming already with confidence and are sounding great. With a bit of practice everyone can progress fast and will soon be able to join musicians playing various types of music. Drumming allows the players to express themselves in a creative way and is also a physical non-hurtful way of releasing tension and aggression.
All over the world drumming is or has been an essential accompaniment to ritual and ceremonial dances marking important transitions in the lives of individuals and communities. The occasions can be to celebrate the cycles of nature like planting and harvesting, or birth, initiation, marriage and death of a member of the community. Communal drumming allows the individual to connect with each other and resonate physically, emotionally and spiritually through rhythm. In the western world drumming in groups is meanwhile used a lot in schools, community and youth projects as well as in therapeutic groups. It is a musical team-building tool to facilitate interaction and relating in a group. It also encourages participation and social integration in a playful way which is an important aspect in education.
Classical Music and the various local folk music traditions of Europe and North America, which includes Irish traditional music, are mainly centred around tunes and melodies, not so much around rhythm. Since the ’70s the western world got more and more interested in rhythmic and percussive music, since the ’80s especially in African Drumming. Today there is a good interest in drumming performances and workshops in the communities, in schools and other institutions and organisations like the Health Board, YMCA, Scouts, Foroige, etc. and a festival would not be complete without some drumming. The Drumming Centre West Cork for Drumming, Art and Healing, a workshop centre in Ballydehob, West-Cork, is mainly dedicated to drumming and offers a broad program of workshops and sessions as well as being the only professional shop and mail-order in Ireland for quality drums and percussions from around the world.
In tribal societies all over the world, the shaman’s drum is a tool for transportation between the worlds of ordinary and non-ordinary or spiritual reality. The loud and constant sound of the drum enables the shaman’s consciousness to enter a state of trance and to travel out of his body into the timeless realm of the spirit world. It is the task of the shaman on these ethereal journeys to find visions and answers that help them to restore or retain balance for their people. The shaman might undertake a journey to find better grazing land for the animals, or enter the spirit world to retrieve the soul of a sick person or to restore the harmony and well being of the tribe.
The drum has been used for healing purposes worldwide for thousands of years in tribal societies with their shamanic traditions to communicate with the spirit world as well as a tool for social integration and to restore harmony. According to West-African wisdom teachings, emotional disturbances manifest as an irregular rhythm and are bad vibrations that block the vital physical processes. As regular even rhythms are regarded as a sign of health, these rhythms can heal a patient in an immediate and powerful way, removing blockages and releasing tension. Drumming and dancing thus is also a preventive remedy as it helps to become more conscious and balanced. The healing sounds of drums, as well as Tibetan singing bowls, are meanwhile also used in the west to treat a lot of conditions with good results where previously other methods might not have been very successful. Drumming works with the life force itself in a profound way on all levels, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
An everlasting jam session is a dream of mine ! It is possible, just keep the music going, never stop …
I would like to initiate some never-ending jam sessions which should happen in various suitable and undisturbed spaces on planet earth. The spaces should be open to everyone who wants to improvise music or dance or any art form in a constructive way. These jam temples should be equipped with some musical instruments, mainly acoustic ones, to prevent volume egotistical power trip temptation and unhealthy noise levels. I imagine that people would come and jam for as long as it feels good and then leave again , probably with a smile on their face. Thus there would be an ever-changing group of people playing ever-changing music which would be always fresh and true to the mood and the vibrations of the moment. This improvisation would have a pleasant atmosphere and comfortable seating and also a basic set of common sense rules written on the walls as a reminder. All interactions should be ruled by mutual respect and a general positive attitude. I also imagine a virtual ongoing jam on the internet where people could log in and participate in the jam from each corner of the planet via their computers.
Magic Music and Music Magic – Some Open Secrets Shared Openly – to be used with respect and awareness, please!
Sacred rhythm “Kon • Ke Lo • Kon • Kon • Ke Lo •”
KonKeLo is a sacred trance rhythm from Benin ( Dahomey ) , still being used in Haiti and associated with Voodoo . Its a rhythmic pattern over 12 beats , with beats 1-3-4-6-8-10-11 forming a syncopated pattern (Thus alternating between on and off beat) . It’s usually being played on a bel or a double bell , sometimes in the fashion of “rounds” with several bells coming in at various entry points in relation to the lead KonKeLo pattern (reference pattern on a drum is the “Afro-Waltz” , BtT bTt BtT bTt ) There are a good few variations of the KonKeLo , where the first and second part are played several times or being exchanged. Often these variations come about naturally by playing in a state of trance. It takes practice and feeling to keep the KonKeLo pattern going as well as the ability to give up mind control ( even though that seems to be a contradiction! ) as you enter inevitably different states of trance ( which you have to get used to even more so if you have not been brought up in a culture that does not use trance states as a spiritual renewal within their rituals – but as always some people get into all that quite naturally ).
The intended leaving behind of the every day consciousness after all is mostly and enjoyable experience as the deeper meaning which lies beyond the lies and thoughts can be directly experienced.
The Universal 4 x 4 Rhythm
This rhythmic pattern over 16 beats probably originated in West Africa fits to most rhythms on a count of 4.
The pattern goes like this : De • De • De • De ge • ge De • De • De •
It is a steady continuous pattern with few simple variations, often played on bass drums, or bells or both. Its effect is generally grounding.
Singing and Chanting of Vowels and Overtones
A diagram by Thomas Wiegandt, 1985
(click for large version)
The vowels are according Latin or German pronunciation : E-I-A-O-U (English ee-ehh-ahh-o-oo ). They can be used individually or as a “sliding scale” in both directions , it sounds a bot like overtones . They vowels correspond with parts of the human body and can be depicted as an energy circuit.
The “I” is sounded with the lips stretched as two long parallel lines . The “U” is sounded with the lips round in a small circle . The other vowels are transitions between these polarities.
- The “I” : Unity, head , vertical flow, cosmic connection.
- The “E” : Vibration , throat / neck , expression , sending out ( calling)
- The “A” : Resonance, heart / chest , openness , receiving.
- The “O” : Centre, feeling , belly, connecting and being connected.
- The “U” : Duality , The 2 legs , roots , earth connection.
Where does music originally come from in the first instance anyway ?
Well, music must originate from outer or inner space. As music consists of vibrations and waves and frequencies, it must be transmitted by a cosmic broadcasting system and we, the two-legged animals on the 3rd rock from the sun, a.k.a. Mother Earth, somehow tune into Cosmic Radio and receive all sorts of sounds and music with our bodies and our souls. By being open and receiving and feeling the cosmic vibrations, we then can express them with our voice and with sound making or musical instruments.
It is similar with any true art, be it dancing, painting, sculpting, writing, poetry, etc.
By being open and responsive and dropping the human ego and the conditioning of commercial capitalist society for a while, we become the instrument, being played by the Universe or God or the Cosmic Energy or whatever you call it. The music transmitted can be called creative and constructive community music improvisations or positive vibration fun jam music, it is truly a celebration of life and togetherness and a manifestation of the creation itself!
In other words, we, the two-legged animals are travelers on a spaceship we call planet Earth. The cosmic vibrations are always in our atmosphere and in the air we breathe. During our lifetime on Mother Earth we can still tune into Cosmic Radio, the broadcasting system of the omni-versal spirit, everywhere and anytime. We can unite by jamming and become cosmic musical instruments ourselves and together all of us in this instant composition orchestra can play a snippet of that ever-changing cosmic symphony. Listen with open hearts and ears and you will hear a molecule of the miracle of the infinite creation.
Music business is a human greed and ego trip.
We do not need an exclusive ego obsessed star cult and worship of an elite, a.k.a. “celebrities” who are most likely lonely people who did not receive a sufficient amount of unconditional love in their childhood or in later years and are desperately craving to be seen and heard now by a huge number of people to acknowledge and validate their existence on planet Earth as well as receiving substitute love in form of money, possessions and the privileges of a luxury life style. As a society of equals we need community based inclusive and constructive togetherness music jams and celebrations of life and existence with no one left out. Everyone can make a valuable contribution according to their abilities. Everyone has a part to play to create the magical community music and sound patchwork of togetherness and unity.
Music and dance and other forms of art are personal expressions of individual and personal emotions and by doing so we maintain our emotional, social,mental and physical health as individual and as community. All people, who are willing to share their art in a constructive and co-operative way are welcome and important players. We, the people, are all community artists and do not need to worship an exclusive elite of chosen ones, who exclusively work to feed their egos and make profit for the commercial and capitalist music industry machine. We are equals with a wide range of individual abilities capable to create a beautiful artistic symphony, a communal patch work of freedom by relating with awareness and with a spirit of mutual respect.
We also want to be true to the uniqueness of any moment, to enjoy the here and now ( the “hear and know”) rather than to reproduce, reproduce, reproduce and repeat, repeat, repeat … true communal fun and happiness are the objective as well as togetherness rather than competition.
A new musical concept and morality
Music is free, the universe provides in a non-monetary way. However, the time and effort put in by musicians needs to be appreciated and rewarded in some way. We pay for many conveniences in our life, the prices are usually set by capitalists or commercial people and are mostly not negotiable. I suggest a new morality on a self-responsible and voluntary basis: if someone enjoys music by a musician, this person may consider making a voluntary contribution to the livelihood of that musician, as the musician provides entertainment or listening pleasure. An appropriate donation according to the means of the listener appears to be a fair exchange. There is joy in voluntary giving and being generous. It is the cosmic dance of give and take, it is a harmonious balance for the happiness of all. Fair exchange is true community spirit. What goes around comes around!