Music therapy is trending: Healing sessions with Tibetan bowls or quartz crystal singing bowls; old time music for the elderly to keep minds robust; ambient relaxing music for chilling out and stress reduction. Our own voice can be therapeutic. Singing a tune activates the left and right hemispheres of the brain (talking activates only the left): a good balance for mind and body.
The healing power of music is well accepted. Music stimulates the reward centres of the brain, due to the action of dopamine and serotonin but natural opioids also play a part. We can all relate to our mood lifting favourite tracks. Many cultures use drug induced tribal rhythms and chanting to access trance states giving insights into the meaning of existence. The ayahuasca ceremony is just one of many of examples. The western equivalent scene is rave or dance parties where people experience heightened euphoria and altered states of consciousness. Those repetitive high frequency rhythms may be irritating when played at home but at a dance party with 5,000 others the music take on a whole new meaning.
But I think that stress reduction is one of the big reasons why we are naturally attracted to music. We all know that music can be calming and help relieve anxiety. Even heavy metal is certain to be good for some – a good release of tension. The stress hormone cortisol inhibits the very important natural killer immune cells. By reducing stress we reduce levels of cortisol allowing our immune system to better fight disease.
Putting the type of music, melodies or rhythm aside – what about the power of sound frequencies? This interests me greatly. Diverse groups of Stone Age sacred structures had resonant frequencies centred around 110 hertz. Could this frequency of a low baritone voice have healing qualities? Many believe so and a UCLA team explored this. They scanned the brains of volunteers exposed to several frequencies including 110 hertz. They found this latter frequency seemed to reduce activity in the left frontal region, quietening language centres. Quietening anxiety perhaps.
Several years ago I created a music album called Music for Healing Massage. It has sweeping strings and pads with voice and a deep healing bass sequence throughout. You can have a look HERE at the Quiet Earth website.