Geophysics? you may ask. Yup! Good ole terra firma. Mother Earth. If we are to understand anything about ourselves and why we made music what it is we must know where we came from.
Here I am going to discuss more the magnetic and electrical properties of our home. Having been made and lived in this environment over the millenia it is not past understanding or reason that we are the product thereof. We are influenced by her seasons. We are influenced by her undulations. We are influenced by her moods. We are influenced by her magnetic fluctuations.
Let's look at these statements closer to see if I am being factual and scientific or merely poetic.
We are influenced by her seasons.
It has been noted by psychiatrists et al that during the winter months there comes a depression. The winter blues they call it. This is due to the lack of sufficient sunshine. More suicides occur. It is a fact that certain vitamins (particulary D) are made by sunlight in our bodies. The more sun, the more the vitamins. Less sun, less vitamins. The lower vitamin content could contribute to 1) more illness and 2) depression due to malnutrition. (Yes, I know, some vitamins are depleted by sunlight also.)
We are influenced by her undulations.
How many of us are not shaken by the earthquakes (no pun intended) or hurricanes or tornados or monsoons etc? Some people can actually feel pain and illness at the approach of thunderstorms and even earthquakes and volcanos. The cause, I believe, is the strong EM coming from these. In the case of thunderstorms it is lightning. In the case of earthquakes and volcanos it is the peizoelectric effect due to tectonic pressure. Our bodies are electrical in nature. Maxwell showed that electricity and magnetism are unified, so one influences the other. When our nervous system is induced with more current than it can stand, it causes our bodies to react to limit the impulses.
It is true with the chemicals, neurotransmitters, neuroinhibitors, and neuropeptides. When we feel pain it causes more of certain neurotransmitters to flow. Aspirin and tylenol, as well as others, either block the production of these neurotransmitters or increase the production of other types, or both. Tylenol for example increases the neurotransmitter serotonin, a "pleasure" inducer. In essense we cover over pain with pleasure! Interestingly enough, for migraines (which I suffer often) one of the suggested remedies is sex. I often use this suggestion with my wife ;-) (Aw, c'mon honey! Doctors orders!). After all, my own doctor suggested it!
However, the brain has "valve" cells that inhibit the flow of too many neurotransmitters. At least ideally so. Mood altering drugs tend to inhibit these inhibitors.
I would imagine that increased electrical activity can also cause increased neurotransmitter production, especially if the inducing electrical impulse is of the frequencies of the brain, from 0 to about 40 Hertz. More on this later. Several people I know get headaches when thunderstoms approach. Then there are those that claim pains in other parts of the body, also. ("My trick knee tells me its going to snow." It usually does.)
However, the headaches one gets I believe are the result of the inhibitors working overtime. I too suffer from migraines and the result of the migraines aside from pain is nausea. At any rate, our bodies, in particular the nervous systems, try to compensate for these surges of activity, so as not to overstimulate our brains. After all, our bodies are there to live for the brain, our seat of consciousness. Many people get nausiated when nervous. This is the result of adrenaline which no doubt increases the reflexes, a function of the nervous system. It is an increase in neural activity (As a matter of fact, it has been recently discovered that there is an overabundance of neuronal activity in the frontal lobes of migraine sufferers).
Point is, either a chemical or electrical, induced by EM, increase in neurological activity affects our entire well being.
We are influenced by her moods.
Ok. Here I did get a little poetic. But we could consider both day and night as her moods. During the day the ionosphere and magnetosphere is closer to us because of the solar winds. During the night they are further away. What effect this has on us I do not know. But there is a phenomenon that many into hi-fi audio call "middle of the night bloom." There may be a connection.
We are influenced by her magnetic fluctuations.
Now here is where there could be some controversy. But before we argue, let us consider a few facts.
The Schumann Resonances.
The Earth is said to act as a large capacitor. In a capacitor one needs two conductive plates separated by an insulator. We know from basic electricity that the earth or ground is a conductor. Our friendly neighborhood power company knows this. So they send us a wire with only one end connected to their generator, and use earth as the return feed. This saves alot of money on wire.
To prove this merely use a voltmeter. Connect one end to the hot side of your AC outlet and the other side literally stick in the ground, or to a water pipe (they usually go to ground anyway). You should get the full 115 volts AC. This is why it is warned that you keep one hand in your pocket and your feet insulated when working with electricity.
So we now have one conductive plate. It can be charged positively or negatively. But where is the other plate? The clouds? No. It is the ionosphere. It is also charged. It is also conductive. A busy winter night in the arctic shows this. The Aurora Borealis is the result of the ionosphere being charged by the sun (click here for a basic primer). But there is more to this than meets the eye (again, no pun intended).
We know that a movemant of electric charge makes a magnetic field. So what happens when this field is made? As any EM it propogates outward, toward space and toward the earth. However, an interesting thing happens when it goes toward the earth. It bounces back. When it bounces back it also gets bounced by the lower part of the ionosphere. This bouncing occurs whether the ionosphere, lightning or tectonic activity are the source of EM. It continues bouncing around the globe.
At what frequency does this bouncing occur? Back at the end of the 1800's, Nikola Tesla was doing some experiments with his famous coils. There was a tunderstorm approaching. He noticed activity when the storm was some distance away. However, the activity decreased as the storm approached. It then incresed some time later as the storm got even closer. After calculating for it he discovered that there was some form of EM that the earth was tuned to. This was later confirmed by Schumann in the fifties. This is why they are called the Schumann Resonances.
It is the condition of earth's magnetic field caused by the "cavity" between the ground and the bottom of the ionosphere. It is where the magnetic field of the earth is excited by the aforementioned forces into oscillation. The frequencies begin at about 7.83 Hz and are not exact integer multiples of it, namely 14, 21, 27, 34, and 42 Hz.
They are easy enough to calculate. Merely take the circumference of the earth and divide the speed of light by it. The answer will be about 8. The circumference of the earth is the distance the EM travels and the speed of light is the speed of EM. So using the formula for finding frequency by distance and speed, or F=v/d, one gets the frequency.
Let's try it:
Circumference of the earth is approximately 24,000 miles
Speed of light is 186000 miles per second.
186000/25000 = 7.75
This is not the exact number for the measured resonance, but it is close enough for this example.
Now for the interesing part. Remember the above discussion about neural activity and the brains frequencies? Lets break this down into brain states. We all know about the Alpha state,where we dream, right? Well let's look at the four different states in descending frequency order:
STATE FREQUENCY RANGE
Alpha 7-14 Hertz
Theta 4-7 Hertz
Delta 0-4 Hertz
Notice something interesting? Yes. The Beta state has the frequency of earth's fundamental frequency within its range. But before I expound on that point, let's examine the states and what occurs in our brains in each.
The Beta State
In this state we are fully conscious. All waking mental activity occurs here. In the early sixties Francis Crick did experiments showing that by flashing a light at about 40 Hertz test subjects were very alert.
The Gamma State
This is where halucination and trance occurs.
The Delta State
This is where unconsciousness occurs. Sleep.
Tha Alpha State
This is the most intrigueing state. This is where genius comes from. It has been written that everyone is born with the ability to enter this state at will. A child's imagination is unbounded. They are in this state when they imagine. The reason most people no longer enter this state at will is that the human mind is so powerful that while in this state one can imagine so strongly that they manifest fearful images. They are so frightened by what they imagine that they close the door to this state for the rest of their lives.
The few who do not close the door become artists, inventors and Einsteins. It is said that he, Nikola Tesla, and others invented and theorized their greatest theories by being in this state. Einstein imagined himself walking along a beam of light. Tesla imagined lightning flickering around in the air. There are many more examples of this in history, these are but two that I recall from a 1986(?) article in The Science Digest magazine.
Most of us do enter this state when we dream. However, unless gifted with lucid dreaming, we can neither manipulate nor most of the time remember our dreams. In this state we are relaxed. Our bodies actually do repair functions during this state. We are creative. This it would seem would be the most all round beneficial mental states to be in.
So it would stand to reason that there is a definite connection between earth's natural resonance and our own physical makeup.
But what does this have to do with music and how we listen to it?
THE POWER OF MUSIC
We are all aware of the way music can affect our moods. We often hear in the news or read in the newspapers how some who have committed crimes blame the music they have listened to. Charles Manson being the first example tha comes to mind. Some use Bolero to enhance their sexual activity. The military uses war songs to bolster up morale for their soldiers. Some heavy metal has been blamed for suicides among teens. But music is more powerful than we can imagine.
I have read that shamans use the pulsing rythm of about four beats per second to lull themselves and others into the delta state to put them in a trance. There are tapes one can purchase that have imbedded into them sound that creates beat frequencies within the ranges of brain states (Brain Sync). So the idea of altering brain states is not as far fetched as we may believe. The only thing about it is that it is not permanent or fully controllable if we do not want it to be. In other words, we can control whether we want to allow these devices to control our states or not.
But what does this have to do with music? How much power can music have, and why? If we are not aware of it, music can have more power on us that we realize. It can move us into actions that we may normally not perform. How?
It does so by putting our minds in the state of mind where suggestion can set in. Again, how?
SUBHARMONICS IN MUSIC
Many of us know that in music a note is made up of a fundamental frequency, which we perceive as its pitch, and overtones, or harmonics. These are theoretically the whole number integer multiples of the fundamental. In other words, for a pitch of orchestra A, the fundamental frequency is 440 cycles. So its harmonics should be 880, 1320, 1780, etc, which corresponds to 440 times 2, then times 3, then times 4, etc. But, little known and revealed is that a musical instrument can also produce undertones, or subharmonics. This is represented by the fundamental divided by whole number integers, or 440 divided by 2, 3, 4 etc.
I came across this by accident. I was playing around with my guitar. I wanted to hear the strings ring at harmonics. It is known ampong musicians that one can cause the strings of a stringed instrument to make a tone that is the harmonic of itself without it making its own frequency. It is by lightly touching the string at one of the points where a harmonic would be made and then plucking it. It is a nice effect. So I decided this particular day to pluck the high E string to see which other string carried it as a harmonic. At the time I did not know that the first string was the low E, but I soon found out that it was what was ringing at the high E's frequency. I would pluck and immediately stop the high E string and hear the low E ring at the high E's pitch. But as I listened closely, i could also hear the string ring at its own frequency. I did not expect this. I therefore concluded that this must hapen to all of the strings. The sound coming from a string must make not only harmonics but subharmonics. With this in mind, and having listened to guitar music from recordings through a tube amp and my tubelike solid state amp, I concluded that all of the frequencies of one string makes a subharmonic, but culminating at one particular frequency below the hearing range. I came to this conclusion to explain to myself why the sound from my guitar and from the tube amp sounded like I could "feel" the sound in my ears, whereas from standard solid state amplifiers or inferior recordings do not have this "in my ears" affect.
I immediately tried to piece together a formula that represented my thinking. I did not know of the Fourier integral formula at the time, nor did I know calculus. But I did know trigonometry and the formulas for frequency and phase etc. So I deduced that what I needed to do was to add the frequencies of the fundamental and harmonics, and get an average by dividing by the number of frequencies I used. I then multiplied it by one second (0.01666). I then divided this by 4 and again divided by 1/2 Pi. The numbers I came up with astounded me. Depending on the frequency and the number of harmonics I used, it was between 5 and 15 hertz. Interestingly, I was reading "In search of Nikola Tesla" by David Peat and in it he said that 5 through 15 hertz were the "Tesla frequencies." Needless to say my heart dropped when I read this and had to put the book down for a while. At any rate, It wasn't until about three years ago (1996) that I found out about the Schumann Resonances and it all came into focus for me.
My original claim was that this common single subharmonic, which I now believe is a beat frequency average of all the harmonics (The Psychology of Music - Diana Deutsch)occurs in the air. This is both true (reflection based beats) and not the only way. As it turns out, on a string in the real world, as the string moves back and forth tension increases and decreases. therefore, any harmonic travelling along the string sees a variable medium. As the string tenses, the travelling harmonic wave moves slightly faster. So we have harmonics that vary in veocity. This makes for a seeming variation in pitch due to Doppler effect. So, with all this change going on per second, there has to be a particular frequency where all of these coincide and superpose to make a subharmonic at some sort of base period. In other words, there has to be a pattern where all of the frequencies are at the same place in the same phase over time. This is the subharmonic of which I speak.
More to come soon, with diagrams.
and psychology of sound