Since 1986, I’ve been immersed in psychoacoustics – the study of the effects of music and sound on the human nervous system, and bioacoustics – how human sound affects animals.
music for people research
In 1986, I discovered a small but passionate circle of musicians, composers, renegade therapists, and musical healers. Most didn’t even know of their colleagues, and there wasn’t a category title for what they were doing; I had to make it up… Soundwork! (1997. Sonic Alchemy. InnerSong Press). They were listening for the deeper elements of music and sound and became known as sound healers. And soon, they began to teach what they know and now there are graduate degrees in the Neuroscience of Music.
Research is abundant! MRI brain scans under the influence of Coltraine, music therapy for Parkinson’s, Hospice harpers, and iPhone apps using sound to imitate any drug experience you want.
But back in the day, in the early 90’s, I came to the conclusion that the foundation of every sound therapy effort I could find was resonance, entrainment, and pattern identification. Everything was pretty much window dressing on top of that. I believe it is still the case today.
The use of tone, tempo, and pattern was imbued by the brilliant sound discoveries of Dr. Alfred Tomatis (1920-2000), a French ENT doctor, way before his time. Viewing sound as a “nutrient for the nervous system” came to inform my psychoacoustic palette from which I painted… or more accurately, produced soundtracks for neurodevelopmental clinics, hospitals, classrooms, and homes. Unborn babies, cancer patients, and children with feeding disorders became my audience’s of one. And the stakes were high.
The adage, if you want to learn something, write a book about it, is true.
My research led to the writing of The Power of Sound (2000. Inner Traditions.) and then a revised 2nd edition (2010).