Interview by Jason Gross (Spring 1998)I first heard about Jonathan Goldman and the Sound Healers Association (which he is the founder and director of) through a great ambient/techno benefit compilation on Bubble Core called Corners of the Mouth (with Mouse on Mars, Oval, Moby, Aube, E.A.R., Scanner and others). There was a very moving and potent essay there about how music as being something more than entertainment. Part of the Sound Healer's Association is the School of Sound, a non-profit organization devoted to the teaching of the healing powers of music and sound. Jonathan talks about his own experiences and theories behind his work and how he's seen it literally transform people (including himself).
PSF: How can sound and music be used for healing?
In order to understand this question, we must go back to understanding the basic principle of how sound can be used for healing. To do this, we must become aware of three things:
1. That everything in the universe is in a state of vibration. Everything is in motion and produces a sound or frequency. This includes the various parts of our body, organs, bones, tissue, etc.
2. When we are in a state of "sound" health, everything in our bodies is vibrating in resonance or harmony with itself. When something is vibrating out of harmony, we call this "disease".
3. Sound is an energy that can entrain or change the vibrational rate of objects. Therefore, if something is vibrating out of tune or harmony, it is possible to create the correct, natural "resonant" frequency of the out of tune object, project it to that out of tune portion and cause it to vibrate back to its normal, healthy state.
I like to use the metaphor of the body being this wonderful orchestra that, when in a state of health, is playing this "Suite of the Self", creating an overall harmonic of health. But what happens if the 2nd violin player looses their sheet music? They begin to play out of tune, out of rhythm, out of harmony. Pretty soon the entire string section sounds off. Pretty soon the whole orchestra sounds funky. This is what happens when imbalances or disease sets in. But what if it were possible to restore the sheet music back to this violin player? What if it were possible to project the correct resonant frequency back into the part of the body body and cause it vibrate back into health. This is the basic principle of using sound and music to heal.
PSF: And how could this be done?
There are a number of different ways to do this. The frequency, or frequencies, could be projected into the body via an instrument creating this sound. There are now, a number of different instruments that do this, including the Cymatics Instrument, invented by Dr. Peter Guy Manners of England. There are other devices, as well as different recordings and devices that either project the frequency into the body, or into the brain (via the ear). These seem to be effective as well.
I personally prefer, when possible, to use the human voice. Specifically our own voice, if possible, to project the correct resonant frequency into the body and/or brain and/or etheric fields to restore resonance. This is part of what I teach in my workshops.
The human voice is inexpensive, unlike many of these instruments. It does not require batteries of electricity. And the owners manual is fairly user friendly. In other words, with a little bit of experience an individual can learn to make sounds that can be used to put ourselves into balance and health.
PSF: What's the physiological basis of this work?
Well, ostensibly, of course, it's this idea that disease is really an out of tuneness of the body. And that to create a healing, one has merely to find the correct resonant frequency, project it into the body and a healing effect occurs.
The question arises as to how this frequency (or sound) is determined. Now, there seem to be a number of different methods and while they all seem to have some degree of success, none of them seem to agree with each other. They are all different.
I discovered this conundrum many years ago, and it disturbed me for quite a while. Then I began to understand that not only was it the frequency (or sound) that was creating the healing, but the intention the the person creating the frequency.
PSF: The intention?
Well, the intention is the energy behind the sound. This is a fairly non-physiological basis, since intention is not something that can be easily measured by machines, etc. But from my perspective, intention is as important as the sound being made. Intention is the consciousness that is riding on the sound wave.
Have you ever been at a party and someone walked up to you and said "Good to see you" and you felt like you had been slimed by this person. While the words (or the frequency) that were created was one thing, the energy was something else. I think we experience this pretty frequently, but are not aware of it. I think it's possible to make the same sound and put two very different intentions into the sound and have two very different effects.
So, in my book HEALING SOUNDS, I created the formula, Frequency + Intent = Healing. In other words the energy that someone puts into the sound is as important as the sound being created. This is why I think you can have different frequencies being created by these different instruments and different approaches to sound healing that work. The intention of the user is the same. This, I believe is also why I like using the voice so much. It's so much more personal and our connection to the intention is so much deeper.
I teach a method which is very easy to learn, in which one can learn to use the Seven Sacred Vowel Sounds to resonate the chakras and put them into alignment. We use the vowel sounds in conjunction with pitch and it's very effective. You can feel the physical body being resonated during this and also experience the effects on the etheric. What many of my students have confirmed (and this is just anecdotal information) is that the frequencies which they use many vary from day to day in regard to this. And these frequencies are not the same for everyone.
I think the same thing may be true for the physical body as well. I think we'll be able to come up with generic tones for the various organs, but I believe we will find that each is a little bit different. That's again, why I like using the human voice. It allows us to shift our frequencies using our own self-created sounds.
PSF: How do you differentiate sound and music and how can each be used to heal?
Technically, what I am talking about is music for the most part. However, usually when I personally talk about sound, I am talking about single tones that do not vary much with pitch, rhythm, melody or any of the other components one normally associates with music. For example, a person toning an "Ah" sound or even an "Om" for 15 minutes would be very different than listening to "Beethoven's 5th" or the Beatles or whatever.
For many people, the chanting of Tibetan Monks or would technically be considered the music of Tibet, but from my definition, it would be sound. Specifically if you're experiencing an instrument projecting a frequency into your body or your brain from one of the practitioners that I spoke of before and you're hearing one tone for 15 minutes, you probably won't experience as music.
PSF: So, you might experience it as noise.
True, but remember that noise is unwanted sound. And so one person's music is another person's sound and it gets very confusing this way. I remember listening to some rock n' roll on the radio when I was a kid and my father saying "Turn that noise off". Well, it wasn't noise to me. It was music.
So, I simply differentiate music and sound so that sound is composed of tones that don't vary very much. Without judgment of whether we like it or not. And sound is frequently (although not always) used on the physical body, while music is used on the emotional body--our psyche.
PSF: Why is that?
Music seems to be very effective at working on the emotions because it bypasses the logical part of the brain. We can use motions to access feelings in a way that many times our conscious mind can not.
Please be aware, incidentally, that it's possible to experience powerful physical healings by balancing the emotional body. Many times, physical ailments are actually aspects of blockages in the emotional body. When the emotional body is healed, physical healing can occur. And vice versa--heal the physical and the emotional can get in balance. It's a very complicated subject, but one I just wanted to touch upon. I believe that both sound and music can be used to for healing and self-transformation.
Sound Therapists seem to work more on the physical body. Though there is a wonderful doctor named Alfred Tomatis, who uses special sound projected through the ear from an instrument called "The Electronic Ear" to work with not only physical imbalances, but emotional imbalances as well. They are, as I've stated, inter related.
While I am director of the Sound Healers Association, it's pretty loose. I have dreamed of creating this licensure program for sound healers, but I think it's some years in the future. I do teach a wonderful program, but I don't want anyone to think that if you don't complete my "Intensive" or what not, that you can be a certified sound healers. Because you can't. Cause there ain't no such animal at this point. While I have studied and understand much of the instrumentation that is being used, I prefer to teach people to use their voices, if possible, in order to create vibrational change and frequency shifts. That does not invalidate those who are using instruments and devices. It's a bit like the word of sound healing is this huge pie and we can all take a piece of it and work with it. Some work with sound and the brain. Others work with missing frequencies and the voice. Others work with frequency and the organ, etc. I don't know that anyone is better, but simply that different people work differently and they work with the people they are supposed to work with.
PSF: You've talked about people having transcendental experiences through the practice of your work. How can sound and music do this?
There are many many different ways. When I teach people to resonate their chakras, frequently, they have mystical experiences. The same thing occurs when I have them do sacred chanting from different traditions. From the Tibetan, Hindu, Hebrew, Native American, whatever--You get very blissed out working with sound in this manner and it's non toxic and really powerful.
Listening to different music can also do this to you, but it's a bit more active working with your own sound. Infact, there's nothing else like it. When you make your own sounds, you are resonating not only your physical body and your brain, but also your chakras and etheric fields. The effects can be quite phenomenal.
PSF: Any examples of this?
There are a number of exercises in HEALING SOUNDS and in a new book which is soon to come out, called SHIFTING FREQUENCIES. But if you can remember that frequency + intent = healing and then work with almost any self created sound, that's a start. For example, chanting an "Om" sound for five minutes while projecting the intention that this sound is instilling peace within you will probably have that effect. Or chanting a mid range "Ah" sound that's comfortable for you, while becoming aware that this sound is resonating and aligning your heart center, located in the center of the chest, can give one a very transformative, frequency shifting experience.
As I've mentioned, I teach HEALING SOUNDS Seminars in different cities and do a 9 day Intensive training in Colorado during the summer. Interested people can contact me via email: SoundHeals@aol.com, view our website at: www.healingsounds.com or call us at (800) 246-9764 for more information. And they are many other splendid teachers of sound who are also available. Working with sound has been an amazing journey for me. I trust it will also be so for those of you interested in this work.
See the other Music Therapy articles