Seeing Sound

Seeing Sound

I was reading a post from a friend of mine in Jerusalem on his blog “Shoreshim of Old City” and found it very interesting. I have talked with Moshe, who is the owner of the Shoreshim Shop in the Jewish Quarter of Old Jerusalem about the work I am doing with the Psalms of David and the idea that there is a relationship between the Hebrew text and how the music might sound. This is what I have been pursuing for the past 8 years, and what I share on this website.

I believe that this article by Rabbi Chanan Morrison gives some more understanding from a biblical perspective to the ideas that I have been working on with the Music from the Psalms. The text he is referring to is actually Exodus 20:18 in the usual English translations

And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.”

As you study the Hebrew words used in this text, you see a definite connection to the “seeing” of the sound that occurred that day among the Children of Israel as they stood at the base of Mt. Sinai and received the 10 commandments spoken by the voice of Elohim and written with the finger of YHVH on the tablets of stone that Moses carried up the mountain. I wonder what the blast of a shofar looked like!

I hope you appreciate this understanding and “see” a new way of experiencing the relationship between the words of YHVH and the sound of the music that comes from this understanding.

Blessings – Steve

Seeing Sound

by Rabbi Chanan Morrison

And all the people saw the sounds …” (Ex. 20:15).

The Midrash calls our attention to an amazing aspect of the revelation at Sinai: the Jewish people were able to see what is normally only heard. What does this mean?

Standing near the Source

At their source, sound and sight are united. Only in our limited, physical world, in this alma deperuda (disjointed world), are these phenomena disconnected and detached. It is similar to our perception of lightning and thunder, which become increasingly separated from one another as the observer is more distanced from the source.

If we are bound and limited to the present, if we can only perceive the universe through the viewpoint of the temporal and the material, then we will always be aware of the divide between sight and sound. The prophetic vision at Mount Sinai, however, granted the people a unique perspective, as if they were standing near the source of Creation. From that vantage point, they were able to witness the underlying unity of the universe. They were able to see sounds and hear sights. God’s revelation at Sinai was registered by all their senses simultaneously, as a single, undivided perception.

Gold from the Land of Israel p. 135. Adapted from Mo’adei HaRe’iyah, p. 491

Copyright © 2006 by Chanan Morrison

Music Releases a Mood Enhancing Chemical into the Brain

Music Releases a Mood Enhancing Chemical into the Brain

It’s been awhile since I posted an article so thanks for being patient with me. This article is very interesting and shows a measurable chemical response that our body can have to music. I believe it is one of many pieces of information that continue to show us how important music is to our health. I hope you are enjoying these posts – and feel free to send along any articles that you may find to my e-mail address:

Blessings – Steve

9 January 2011 Last updated at 13:04 ET

Music ‘releases mood-enhancing chemical in the brain

By Sonya McGilchrist | Health reporter, BBC News
Researchers scanned volunteers’ brains with MRI and PET machines

Music releases a chemical in the brain that has a key role in setting good moods, a study has suggested.

The study, reported in Nature Neuroscience, found that the chemical was released at moments of peak enjoyment.

Researchers from McGill University in Montreal said it was the first time that the chemical – called dopamine – had been tested in response to music. Dopamine increases in response to other stimuli such as food and money. It is known to produce a feel-good state in response to certain tangible stimulants – from eating sweets to taking cocaine. Dopamine is also associated with less tangible stimuli – such as being in love.

In this study, levels of dopamine were found to be up to 9% higher when volunteers were listening to music they enjoyed. The report authors say it’s significant in proving that humans obtain pleasure from music – an abstract reward – that is comparable with the pleasure obtained from more basic biological stimuli. Music psychologist, Dr Vicky Williamson from Goldsmiths College, University of London welcomed the paper. She said the research didn’t answer why music was so important to humans – but proved that it was.

This paper shows that music is inextricably linked with our deepest reward systems.

Musical ‘frisson’

The study involved scanning the brains of eight volunteers over three sessions, using two different types of scan. This paper shows that music is inextricably linked with our deepest reward systems” By Dr Vicky Williamson Goldsmiths College, University of London

The relatively small sample had been narrowed down from an initial group of 217 people. This was because the participants had to experience “chills” consistently, to the same piece of music, without diminishing on multiple listening or in different environments. A type of nuclear medicine imaging called a PET scan was used for two sessions. For one session, volunteers listened to music that they highly enjoyed and during the other, they listened to music that they were neutral about. In the third session the music alternated between enjoyed and neutral, while a functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI scan was made. Data gathered from the two different types of scans was then analyzed and researchers were able to estimate dopamine release. Dopamine transmission was higher when the participants were listening to music they enjoyed.

Consistent chills

A key element of the study was to measure the release of dopamine, when the participants were feeling their highest emotional response to the music. To achieve this, researchers marked when participants felt a shiver down the spine of the sort that many people feel in response to a favorite piece of music. This “chill” or “musical frisson” pinpointed when the volunteers were feeling maxim pleasure. The scans showed increased endogenous dopamine transmission when the participants felt a “chill”. Conversely, when they were listening to music which did not produce a “chill”, less dopamine was released.

What is dopamine?

Dopamine is a common neurotransmitter in the brain. It is released in response to rewarding human activity and is linked to reinforcement and motivation – these include activities that are biologically significant such as eating and sex. Dr Robert Zatorre said: “We needed to be sure that we could find people who experienced chills very consistently and reliably. “That is because once we put them in the scanner, if they did not get chills then we would have nothing to measure. “The other factor that was important is that we wanted to eliminate any potential confound from verbal associations, so we used only instrumental music. “This also eliminated many of the original sample of people because the music they brought in that gave them chills had lyrics.”

Music Therapy in Action

Music Therapy in Action

Tiny preemies get a boost from live music therapy

Note: One of my readers, Abigail, sent this article to me and it very much reflects the experiences I have had while playing the harp at the bedside. Very good information. Thanks for your interest. If anyone else of my readers has an article to share, send it in  – Thanks and Blessings – Steve

By LINDSEY TANNER   –   The Associated Press

CHICAGO —  May 16, 2013

As the guitarist strums and softly sings a lullaby in Spanish, tiny Augustin Morales stops squirming in his hospital crib and closes his eyes.

This is therapy in a newborn intensive care unit, and research suggests that music may help those born way too soon adapt to life outside the womb.

Some tiny preemies are too small and fragile to be held and comforted by human touch, and many are often fussy and show other signs of stress. Other common complications include immature lungs, eye disease, problems with sucking, and sleeping and alertness difficulties.

Recent studies and anecdotal reports suggest the vibrations and soothing rhythms of music, especially performed live in the hospital, might benefit preemies and other sick babies.

Many insurers won’t pay for music therapy because of doubts that it results in any lasting medical improvement.  Some doctors say the music works best at relieving babies’ stress and helping parents bond with infants too sick to go home.

But amid beeping monitors, IV poles and plastic breathing tubes in infants’ rooms at Chicago’s Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, music therapist Elizabeth Klinger provides a soothing contrast that even the tiniest babies seem to notice

“What music therapy can uniquely provide is that passive listening experience that just encourages relaxation for the patient, encourages participation by the family,” Klinger said after a recent session in Augustin’s hospital room.

The baby’s parents, Lucy Morales and Alejandro Moran, stood at the crib and whispered lovingly to their son as Klinger played traditional lullabies, singing in Spanish and English.

“The music relaxes him, it makes him feel more calm” and helps him sleep better too, Lucy Morales said. “Sometimes it makes us cry.”

Some families request rock music or other high-tempo songs, but Klinger always slows the beat to make it easier on tender ears.

“A lot of times families become afraid of interacting with their children because they are so sick and so frail, and music provides them something that they can still do,” Klinger said, who works full time as a music therapist but her services are provided for free.

Music therapists say live performances in hospitals are better than recorded music because patients can feel the music vibrations and also benefit from seeing the musicians.

More than two dozen U.S. hospitals offer music therapy in their newborn intensive care units and its popularity is growing, said Joanne Loewy, a music therapist who directs a music and medicine program at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York.

Preemies’ music therapy was even featured on a recent episode of the hit TV show “American Idol,” when show finalist Kree Harrison watched a therapist working with a tiny baby at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

“Music is such a huge part of our lives and to do something like this, make it a sort of healing process, is a cool thing,” Harrison said on the April 25 episode.

Dr. Natalia Henner, a newborn specialist at Lurie hospital, said studies in nursing journals show music therapy for preemies “does help with promoting growth. And there’s some good literature … saying that the time to discharge is a little bit shorter in babies who’ve been exposed to more music therapy.”

She said it “definitely facilitates bonding” between parents of preemies and other babies too sick to go home.

Loewy led a study published last month in the journal Pediatrics, involving 11 U.S. hospitals. Therapists in the study played special small drums to mimic womb sounds and timed the rhythm to match the infants’ heartbeats. The music appeared to slow the infants’ heartbeats, calm their breathing, and improve sucking and sleeping, Loewy said.

Soozie Cotter-Schaufele, a music therapist at Advocate Children’s Hospital-Park Ridge near Chicago, says soothing rhythmic sounds of music can mimic womb sounds and provide a comforting environment for preemies. She sings and plays a small harp or guitar, and says the sounds help calm tiny babies while they’re undergoing painful medical procedures.

Cotter-Schaufele said she recently heard from a woman whose daughter was born prematurely at her hospital six years ago. She had played the 1960s folk song “Today” for the infant.

The mother reported her daughter “‘still loves that song,” She said ‘She didn’t learn that song from me, she learned it from you,'” Cotter-Schaufele said.

Does Music Affect Plant Growth?

Does Music Affect Plant Growth?

Music has a profound effect on everyone. From the soothing tones of classical music to the peppy beats of jazz, it has the ability to change our mood. But does music affect plants, too? The upcoming article divulges the answer.

People have been experimenting with music and plants for almost three decades now. From school-level amateur projects to higher-level scientific experiments, the effect of music on plants has been a confusing and debatable topic. Many people claim to have observed the response of plants to music. Scientists, however, are of the opinion that plants are devoid of a nervous system, and thus are unable to understand music, or respond to it.

Obviously, plants are living objects that breathe and grow. But do they feel? There are contradicting opinions about the effect of music on plants, and whether they feel, or understand the meaning of music. But before getting into any conclusions, let us understand the meaning of music and plant growth.

What is Music?

To strip it down to the basics, music is sound, and sound is nothing more than a wave. Sound waves are produced by generation of vibrations, which are disturbances in the atmosphere (say air). Thus, sound waves need a medium to travel. They are emitted by a source and their frequency, or volume in layman’s language is determined by the frequency of the vibrating source. From the music of the radio to the guitar being played, all of these are mechanical pressure waves that are translated into sounds — and on a higher level, into music.

What is Plant Growth?

Growth is a process which results in the increase of the number and size of leaves and stems in a plant. It also results in strengthening of the roots and production of blossom. Plant growth is a result of the cell division that takes place within the cell. The nucleus, chloroplast, vacuoles, and ribosomes play an important role in cell division. Genes, temperature, moisture, soil quality, mineral retention, water retention, atmospheric changes, etc., are various factors that influence plant growth.

Is Music a Factor for Plant Growth?

Now, we know what music is in technical terms and what is plant growth. But why is music associated with plant growth? In humans, music has a strong effect on our health and mood, and over the years, people have claimed that the same effect of music has been observed on plants, too. Plants are sensitive by nature, and many people claim that they feel just like humans do. There are stories that narrate about plants shedding tears. Although scientists do not support these as facts, these myths have led them to take up various experiments on plants.

Various Experiments

The Retallack Experiment – 1973In her path breaking book, The Sound of Music and Plants, Dorothy Retallack penned down her research. For her laboratory experiment in her studies for the degree in music she chose to study the effects of music in plants. Through rigorous studies and lots of observation, she concluded that plants grew abundantly in classical music as compared to rock and roll. Strangely, when the genre of jazz was played, some plants leaned towards the speaker whereas some leaned away from it. After further research, Retallack discerned that the genre of music did not have anything to do with the response; it was the kind of instruments used and their resonance that probably made the difference. Her book says that loud frequencies of music played havoc with the health of the plants, resulting in a very slow and stunted growth; even death in some cases.

Joel Sternheimer – 1991-92Joel Sternheimer studied and investigated the vibrational frequencies of amino acids. Ribosomes plays an important role in the creation of proteins from a variety of twenty amino acids depending on the need of the cell and its organisms. While this process takes place within the ribosomes, the amino acids turn comparatively slow, making it possible for the researchers to measure their individual frequencies as a “note.” When the frequencies are recognized, each of these notes can then be recorded into a sequence, or melody. Sternheiner successfully replicated the recorded melodies for the selected proteins. When these melodies were played, he noticed that it increased the manifestation of the corresponding protein and accelerated the growth of the plant. Sternheiner affirms that tomatoes grew two and a half times larger when his melodies were played to them.

Mi-Jeong Jeong – 2007A South Korean scientist Mi-Jeong Jeong would play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata to rice plants. He stated that it made the plants grow faster and taller, bringing in the blooms earlier. He claimed that he had identified plant genes that could “hear.” The sounds produced between the frequencies of 125 hertz and 250 hertz made plants of the genes — ‘rbcS’ and ‘Ald’ — increasingly active. On the other hand, sound waves of 50 hertz reduced their activity. These experiments were repeated again, albeit in the dark, in order to avoid the interference of light and its effect on their growth. Again, the same results were observed. Researchers concluded that due to exposure to music, the chemical changes that took place within the plant, could be studied and harnessed in order to throw better light and increase the blossoms of other crops, too.

The above-stated experiments prove that music does affect plants. But it is not the lyrics of the songs, or their meaning, it is the frequencies and the vibrations that they emit, which make the difference. The study by Dorothy Retallack goes to prove that loud music can ruin the mood and health of a plant. Soft music with lower frequencies is better for their growth and blossom. Although many claim that the experiments conducted by Retallack were unprofessional — making the results unworthy — these experiments have shed a lot of light on the way plants react to various frequencies.

Sonic Bloom

Various researches have proved that plants respond to acoustic energy in profound ways. It increases their rate of growth, their size, and influences their overall health. Dan Carlson, after a thorough research over a span of many years, had reached a conclusion that the medley of frequencies originating between 3,000 to 5,000 kHz helps the stomata of plants to open up quicker. This helps them absorb nutrients more efficiently. It took Dan about fifteen years to develop a foliage spray designed such that it is used beneficially with the sound frequencies. This delay happened as the ability and desire of the plant to take up nutrition was altered due to its enhanced capability. Carlson calls this spray as the “Sonic Bloom”. His findings have proved to be beneficial for countless farmers and have resulted in — according to the Guinness Book — the largest indoor plant on record. The Purple Passion was treated with the sonic bloom process. It grew to be 1,300 feet tall and was alive even after 25 years. Its normal lifespan, however, is 18 months and it grows not more than 18-feet tall. The book, “Secrets of the Soil”, writes about Sonic Bloom and its miraculous results. Sonic Bloom is also sold in the market by industry wholesalers.

Word of Caution: Refrain from the use of heavy metal, or pop music around plants. Many previous experiments by laymen and scientists have recorded the death of plants due to exposure to them. So, What is the Inference Drawn?Plants are able to feel and respond to vibrations and frequencies. They grow at certain frequencies, whereas certain other frequencies can stunt their growth. The range of these differs for different species. Some scientists claim that the music actually makes gardeners take more care of these plants, resulting in their faster growth. But the experiment by Sternheimer claims otherwise. Also, the sonic bloom is a proof in its own right on the benefits of musical frequencies on plants. The naysayers hold that there are no sensory devices in plants, like the ears, or the brain. Music is all about vibrations, but then, they may not be so powerful that they can initiate an improved growth in plants. As of now, studies are still continuing to dig deeper so as to gain ground into this matter.

By Medha GodboleLast Updated: 1/19/2013 Read more at Buzzle:

Some Personal Experiences

Some Personal Experiences

Instead of including an article as a new post, I thought I would give some of my personal observations and experiences of how music and frequencies have made a measurable difference in many situations. I have been asked by several readers to relate some of these experiences, so indulge me if you can.

In 1998-99 as I began to play the harp, I finally plucked up enough courage to take my (small) harp into the hospital with me and offer to play for patients at their bedside. At the time I was practicing as a Hemodialysis Registered Nurse doing in hospital treatments for patients with either acute or chronic renal failure. Once the machine is set up and the patient is connected, there is a 3-4 hour time slot of mostly sitting and waiting for the treatment to finish. This is where I started playing the harp at the bedside.

I would always ask if it was OK before I started to play and I was never refused. As time went on, the other nurses would come and ask me if I could play in some of the other rooms when I was finished and had the time. One day, the head nurse at the front desk said, “Now it’s our turn. The patients can’t have all the blessings!” Soon I was asked in several hospitals to give classes in “Alternative Therapeutic Methods – Music as a Healer” and these were very well attended. I was even written up in one of the Bay Area Hospital Journals. So much for my claim to fame!

Early on, I can remember one of my favorite patients. She was severely diabetic and had already lost kidney function as a result. As happens many times with this diagnosis, she lost one leg to severe vascular issues and then soon after the other. Her prognosis was very grim and she was not doing well. I was doing most of her dialysis in the ICU and she was in constant pain with maximum medication. She had been shuttled out to a long term care facility for a short while and I visited her there with the harp and played her favorite songs to help cheer her up but I could tell she wasn’t going to make it too long. One evening I was called in to do an emergency dialysis in the ICU and given her name, so I could tell she was getting close to her end. I took my harp in with me and as I got her treatment started, found her to be in incredible pain. They were giving her even more Morphine than usual just trying to keep her comfortable, but she was still crying out almost constantly. I started to play the harp and about 15 minutes into the treatment she began to quiet down and relax. Within another 15 minutes she was sleeping. About half an hour later, her heart monitor sounded off and I looked up to see her go into straight line. She had already asked to not be resuscitated so we honored her request and cleaned up everything and allowed her to pass on peacefully.

Another time, I was just finishing up a treatment and the hospital administrator came to me and asked if I had any free time. She went on to explain that she had just come from the ER and the place was extremely chaotic, noisy and almost out of control. She asked me if I could just come down and play the harp and see what would happen. I finished up and took the harp down there and began to play. At first, I got a couple of weird glances wondering what I was doing there, but soon I sank into the background and started to observe the effects of the music. The noise level began to drop almost immediately. Activity started to slow down – voices quieted. Within 30 minutes total order was restored into that setting. It was amazing to watch! Just a little calming harp music.

One patient I had was severely asthmatic and was having a difficult time keeping adequate oxygen saturations. He was in a crisis period, and if they couldn’t get the saturation up soon, they would have to take some more drastic measure. Usually, if you can get them past the crisis, they can calm down, breathe easier and get past the critical point. As I started to play for him, I noticed that first of all, his breathing rate started to slow. Next, I saw the numbers on his saturation monitor start to slowly inch up. In about half an hour, he was sleeping, and his saturations were in an acceptable range. I was getting fluid off through the dialysis treatment as well, and I’m sure this had some of the effect, but I believe the harp music was just as much a part of his recovery.

Often my wife and I go to Extended Care Facilities and give Scripture stories accompanied with the harp. While doing so in Colorado, we were asked if we could come and do some music in the locked Alzheimer Care unit. As we entered the doors onto the unit I can only describe the scene that met us as chaos and noise. There was screaming, wild singing (off tune), blaring TV and any number of other activities taking place all at once. As I started to play I drew quite a bit of attention. Curiosity was the first response I’m sure, but as they various residents began to listen, they began to quiet down and slow down. The “singer” changed into a dancer and started following the music I was playing and quieted down. Within a short time there was a total transformation in the atmosphere of that unit. I played for over an hour and the nurses were so appreciative. When it came time for us to leave they were so grateful. “Can’t you just stay and play all the time?!” Well, I left them a couple of CD’s and encouraged them to use them often when things started to get out of hand.

Even when I play for a dinner or at a coffee shop I notice that when the music starts, the atmosphere changes. People talk quieter, smile more, move slower – plain relax. I have seen it so many times I know it is not coincidental. These frequencies really do make a restorative difference. There really is healing contained within them as we interact with them. I believe that our Creator intended it to be that way. He knew from the beginning that we would need to be restored – frequently!

I have many people writing me that they are using this music and these frequencies to be able to experience good sleep each night. One person told me that he had not had a full night sleep in he couldn’t remember how long but that since he had started using this music, he was getting full nights of sleep again. He was so thankful. Mothers use it to settle their children down at bedtime and get them off to sleep. I have received so many letters and e-mails testifying to this.

I am also getting a lot of feedback from Cancer treatment people. Many times they have a problem controlling their pain threshold and they are always trying to find ways to beat it. I had given some of my CDs to a man I had briefly met by way of a friend of mine that new him well. I did not get any feed back about how he was doing until over 2 years later. While attending a friends wedding, the wife approached me and filled me in on the details. She let me know he had passed on, but she quickly added that he wanted me to know how much he appreciated the harp CD’s I had sent to him. She said that before they came, he was in almost constant pain, but once he started listening to the CD’s he was able to get much better control over the pain. He was able to get some really good sleep and their quality time together during his last days was so much improved. With tears in her eyes she hugged me tightly and thanked me for sending them the CD’s in their hour of need. You can’t put a price tag on that!

It’s kind of funny/interesting – I have had a couple of people respond to this website and tell me they don’t want to be calmed down?! I’m not sure where they’re coming from. I guess “to each his own”. Truly though, I find very few people who are not benefitted from this music – I think even those few I mentioned would benefit if they would give it a try. Maybe down the road I’ll write another installment of some more of the experiences I have had, but I think I have given you enough for now. Thank you for taking the time to read and consider what I am offering. I hope and pray that your life will be enriched and blessed as a result of it. Shalom – Steve