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THE USE OF SOUND FOR CONTROL, HEALING AND EMPOWERMENT

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the


requirements for the Degree of Master of Fine Arts
in Electronic Music and Recording Media
Mills College, 2005
by
Tim Gray

Approved by:
______________________
Pauline Oliveros
Director of Thesis
______________________

_________________________

Maggi Payne

Marianne Sheldon

Head, Music Department

Director of Graduate Studies

Reading Committee:

_____________________________________
John Bischoff

_____________________________________
Maggi Payne

Table Of Contents
Introduction
Military and Law Enforcement Applications
Subliminals

1
4
9

Sound Healing

15

My Work

25

Bibliography

33

Introduction
Throughout history, sound has been recognized and used to affect the human body
and mind in a variety of ways. The use of chanting, drumming and musical instruments to
induce altered or mystical states of conscious can be found in cultures worldwide. As
analog and digital electronic methods of sound production and analysis became available,
research began to explore how and why sound affects human biology and consciousness.
In the 20th century, exponential advances in technology have led to rapid advancement in
the applications of sound.
I became interested in sound as a healing modality in 2002, before I began studies
at Mills College. A personal meditation practice led me to research the use of binaural
beat frequencies, a sound production technique involving sine waves, as a meditation
enhancer and general anxiety reducer. I have studied the effects of brainwave entrainment
through listening to binaural beat frequencies and their variety of applications including:
sleep induction, learning enhancement, relaxation and meditation induction, and memory
improvement. Overall brain health is improved through neurotransmitter production
balance and hemispheric synchronization. My studies led me to commercially available
recordings which included spoken messages, guided meditations or affirmations mixed
with other audio and binaural beat frequencies in such a way that they could only barely
be heard consciously. These techniques were described as subliminal or supraliminal
message delivery. In the modality of healing sound, subliminal recordings are used to
implant positive ideas and motivations for behavior change in the listener.
As I researched further on the topic of subliminal messages I discovered that a

long-standing controversy existed around them, whether they were real, effective (and
to what degree), and if they were still in use in mainstream media or otherwise. Research
uncovered several documented cases where subliminal messages had been used on the
public, and suggested other applications in the public sector. Public outcry had led the
FCC to suggest that advertisers abandon the technique, however a Canadian Broadcasting
Corporation (CBC) interoffice memo notes that a radio program in the 1980s was
actively using subliminal content. This suggests that the use of subliminal messages in
television and radio signals may have only been officially discontinued. Articles from
the 1970s until recently have also reported the use of subliminal messages that are
embedded in the music played in public spaces such as department stores to decrease
theft. This use of subliminal technology was and is clearly projected on a public
uninformed about the effects, and in most cases entirely unaware of their use or
existence. Through my own research it became clear that technology was available that
could calm and slow a listeners brainwaves, bringing the listener to a more
subconsciously open state for message delivery. The messages could be used to
produce both desirable and undesirable effects in the listener.
As I researched the use of concealing possibly undesirable messages for unaware
listeners, I was alarmed to see that sound was also being put into use by the military and
law enforcement agencies as a form of non-lethal weaponry. The non-lethal weaponry in
use today includes a variety of sound-based technology that is used in riot and crowd
control. This technology amplifies and projects sound that can damage or shock the
human body. During the Gulf War, sound warfare technology such as the Silent Sound
Spread Spectrum (S-Quad) system was used to embed subliminal messages and EEG

pattern-altering frequencies in radio and television carrier frequencies in the Middle East
(High-Tech Psychological Warfare). There are a number of registered patents of soundbased technology that are unreported in the media capable of damaging effects on
humans as well as broadcasting of subliminal audio signals.
During my time at Mills, I continued my research on the healing modalities of
sound, and composed my graduate Signal Flow performance as a sound healing
meditation utilizing brainwave entrainment techniques. The composition also
incorporated research on the induction of sound frequencies into the human body as a
form of vibrational therapy. I have since completed a CD recording utilizing the
techniques of subliminal message delivery and brainwave entrainment discussed in this
paper. (See accompanying CD entitled Affirmations.)
An informed consumer can easily access the new technology of sound and use it
to facilitate healing or control over others. This paper discusses the variety of positive and
negative uses of sound on human beings. My included CD is an example of the positive
applications of such technologies in a self-healing, meditation and self-empowerment
tool.

Part 1: Military and Law Enforcement Applications


The development of non-lethal weaponry has become a priority for modern
military and law enforcement agencies globally. The Department of Defense defines nonlethal weaponry (also called less-than-lethal or less-lethal weapons by law enforcement)
as follows:
Weapons that are explicitly designed and primarily employed so as to
incapacitate personnel or material, while minimizing fatalities, permanent
injury to personnel, and undesired damage to property and the
environment. Unlike conventional lethal weapons that destroy their targets
principally through blast, penetration and fragmentation, non-lethal
weapons employ means other than gross physical destruction to prevent
the target from functioning. Non-lethal weapons are intended to have one,
or both, of the following characteristics: a. they have relatively reversible
effects on personnel or material, b. they affect objects differently within
their area of influence (Bunker).
Some examples of this technology can be found in modern riot/protestor-control
law enforcement equipment, including electric shock weapons (batons, stun guns), and
stroboscopic light devices which pulse light in the same manner as binaural beat audio
frequency but are oriented to cause vertigo, disorientation, and vomiting. Non-lethal
acoustics use sound in a variety of ways to disable and neutralize the target. In the
USAF Institute for National Security Studies paper Non-Lethal WeaponsTerms and
References, the authors explain that non-lethal weaponry was given new emphasis
during the Vietnam War era. Law enforcement agencies and Army National Guard units
relying upon traditional forms of politico-military force were ineffective in countering
US domestic civil unrest. As similar types of conflict, now many magnitudes greater,
seem to dominate international politics since the end of the Cold War, this type of weapon
takes on increasing importance (Bunker).

In 2002, Woody Norris, the CEO of American Technology Corporation,


announced the development of a sonic weapon for the Pentagon, which fires sonic
bullets. The demonstration model of the device resembles a large stereo speaker and
uses a hypersonic sound system which projects two beams of ultrasonic frequency,
which act as a laser-precise carrier over which a 140dB sound is projected. The sound
will only be heard by the target the beam is projected at, while those outside the beam
would hear nothing. To the target, the sound would be about as loud as being under a jet
engine taking off. A selection of 50 sound tracks is available to the operator, one of the
most powerful being the sound of a baby crying, played backwards. Norris explained,
[For] most people, even if they plug their ears, it will produce the equivalent of an
instant migraine. Some people, it will knock them on their knees (Sound To Make An
Army Flee).
American Technology Corporation has also developed another device using their
Hypersonic Sound System, which has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration. Installed in a vending machine, vendor display or advertisement,
directional sound can be projected so that when a consumer passes by they hear a sound,
message or advertisement, silent to other shoppers around them. Norris demonstrated the
device at a mall near his office, directing it at passers-by, who all stopped to listen when
the sound was directed at them. One woman was quoted as saying, That is absolutely
amazing. It sounds like the sound is inside your head (Sound To Make An Army Flee).
A popular soda company is planning to install the directional sound device in their
vending machines, so that approaching customers will hear the sound of soda being
poured over ice.

A different sonic bullet technology, also termed acoustic bullet weapons, is


described in the Non-Lethal Weapons paper. These devices use very low frequency sound
waves (VLF < 20Hz) amplified at extremely high power, projected from one to two meter
antenna dishes. The resulting waves will physically impact the target with enough force
to result in blunt object trauma. The effects are described as ranging from discomfort to
death. The paper also suggests, A Russian device that can propel a 10Hz sonic bullet the
size of a baseball hundreds of yards is thought to exist (Bunker)."
An ITV News Bureau Ltd. (London) wire service bulletin reported the use of
sound warfare during the Gulf War. The article, entitled "High-Tech Psychological
Warfare Arrives in the Middle East," describes a US Psychological Operations (PsyOps)
tactic directed against Iraqi troops in Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. The
maneuver consisted of a system in which subliminal mind-altering technology was
carried on standard radio frequency broadcasts. The March 26, 1991 news brief states that
among the standard military planning groups in the center of US war planning operations
at Riyadh was "an unbelievable and highly classified PsyOps program utilizing 'silent
sound' techniques (High Tech Psychological Warfare)." One known technology
employed during the Gulf War was the Silent Sound Spread Spectrum (S-Quad)
technology, developed by Dr. Oliver Lowery and patented as a "Silent Subliminal
Presentation System" in 1992. The abstract for the patent reads:
A silent communications system in which nonaural carriers, in the very
low or very high audio-frequency range or in the adjacent ultrasonic
frequency spectrum are amplitude- or frequency-modulated with the
desired intelligence and propagated acoustically or vibrationally, for
inducement into the brain, typically through the use of loudspeakers,
earphones, or piezoelectric transducers. The modulated carriers may be
transmitted directly in real time or may be conveniently recorded and
stored on mechanical, magnetic, or optical media for delayed or repeated

transmission to the listener (qtd. in Wall).


The literature provided by Silent Sounds, Inc. contends that it is possible to
analyze and replicate human emotional EEG patterns, termed "emotion signature
clusters," record them on a computer, and broadcast them to "silently induce and change
the emotional state in a human being." The technology was acquired and put into use by
the Department of Defense. In a 1996 letter, Edward Tilton, President of Silent Sounds,
Inc. states, "All schematics, however, have been classified by the US Government and we
are not allowed to reveal the exact details. . . we make tapes and CDs for the German
government, even the former Soviet Union countries! All with the permission of the US
State Department, of course. . . The system was used throughout Operation Desert Storm
quite successfully (qtd. in Wall)." While specific descriptions of the mechanism of the
technology are classified, it is apparently intended to broadcast subliminal messages on
regular radio and television carrier signals. Also described is the use of direct microwave
induction into the brain of the subject, limited to short-range operations. The system is
also designed to transmit "emotion signature clusters" to listeners. In their literature,
Silent Sounds, Inc. explains, "These clusters are then placed on the Silent Sound carrier
frequencies and will silently trigger the occurrence of the same basic emotion in another
human being (qtd. in Wall)!" While this may seem unlikely to the reader, it must be kept
in mind that patents are only granted based on evidence that the technology can produce
the results claimed by the patentee. Clearly the Department of Defense took the S-Quad
technology seriously.
Application of sound warfare technology is rarely addressed in the media, and
other government applications of similar technologies are unknown. Technology such as

the S-Quad system also could clearly be applied to uses beyond the military, for both
positive and manipulative ends in the public sector. The use of subliminal message
embedding in media as well as background sound in public spaces has been a
controversial topic of public discussion since the late 1950's.

Part 2: Subliminals
In 1979, Time Magazine ran an article entitled Secret Voices: Messages That
Manipulate. The article describes a black box being installed in about 50 department
stores in the US and Canada, and gaining popularity as a theft-deterrent. A very basic
description of the device explains that it mixes an audio signal containing anti-theft
messages (the article gives the examples, I am honest. I will not steal) looped and
repeated at very high speed, about 9,000 times per hour, at very low volume into the
stores background music. From the article, One undisclosed East Coast chain is said to
have cut the number of thefts by 37%, for a savings of $600,000 during a nine-month
trial. In Toronto, a real estate office uses a black box to inspire sales personnel (Secret
Voices). Hal C. Becker, founder of the Behavioral Engineering Center and inventor of
the black box, proclaims, I see no reason why there wont be audio-conditioning in the
same way we now have air conditioning.
Beckers former partner, Louis Romberg, is described as having established his
own subliminal service operation in Toronto, providing subliminal pep talks to hockeys
Montreal Canadiens, while Becker is also working with an unidentified National
Football League team. Becker suggests that if subliminals were put on TV, they could
be directed specifically at such killers as obesity, drugs and bad driving. We could
eliminate weight problems in one generation, reduce auto insurance by 50% (Secret
Voices). Becker also mentions that he has already turned down politicians' and
advertisers' offers to hire him, and that he is not worried about abuses of the technology.
The article ends with a quote from Aryeh Neier, former executive director of the
American Civil Liberties Union, who insists, people have a right to go about their

business without being subjected to manipulation they dont even know about (Secret
Voices).
A more recent article reports the same use of technology by a larger number of
major department stores in the US, focusing specifically on Old Navys use of anti-theft
message imbedding. Old Navy reports similar decreases in shop-lifting following
implementation of the technology, and the article noted a rising interest in embedding the
messages in audio in stores and shopping centers around the country. The specifics of the
"black boxes" used to embed subliminal messages in audio signals have not been publicly
released. The technology could, for example, mix an audio signal into the bass
frequencies of the music at a very low level, generally -15dB to -20dB. Only focused
attention would reveal a murmuring sound beneath the bassline. Combined with
brainwave entrainment techniques such as trance-inducing rhythms and binaural beat
frequencies, the penetration of messages past the critical, right-brain directly to the
subconscious could be achieved. This same technique can be put to positive application
by exchanging messages to control shopper impulses with messages customized to
inspire desired behavioral and mental pattern changes. The recording included with this
thesis demonstrates a healthy and empowering application of a technique used for social
control in this country.
The 1979 Time Magazine article also recalls the ground breaking visual
subliminal message embedding work of marketing researcher James Vicary in the mid1950's. Vicarys experiments with a theatre in New Jersey were first documented in 1957
by The New Yorker, and then The Wall Street Journal. Vicary inserted frames of text, such
as Hungry? Eat popcorn and suggestions to drink Coca-Cola in between frames of a

film shown in the theatre in an attempt to boost sales of refreshments. The Wall Street
Journal described the announcement by the company responsible for the technology:
Sales of Coca-Cola reportedly rose 18.1% and popcorn purchases zoomed
57.7% over the theatres usual sales. These claims and the explanation of
the purported phenomenon were made at a press conference yesterday
afternoon by executives of a new firm called Subliminal Projection Co.,
Inc. The movie patrons had been subjected to invisible advertising that
by-passed their conscious and assertedly struck deep into their subconscious. The trick was accomplished by flashing commercials past the
viewers eyes so rapidly that viewers were unaware they had seen them
(qtd. in Radford).
The story was gradually reported with increasing dramatic license and intrigue. A
1957 editorial in the Saturday Review announced, Welcome to 1984, and fearfully
speculated, if the device is successful for putting over popcorn, why not politicians or
anything else? If it is possible to prompt the subconscious into making certain judgments
of human character, why wouldnt it be possible to use invisible messages for the purpose
of annihilating a reputation or promoting it (qtd. in Radford)? Aldous Huxley wrote
about the use of subliminal projection machines in his Brave New World Revisited in
1958, suggesting that, The scientific dictator of tomorrow will set up his whispering
machines and subliminal projectors in schools and hospitals, and in all public places
where audiences can be given a preliminary softening up by suggestibility increasing
oratory or rituals (qtd. in Radford).
Public response to the reported use of subliminal advertising led to further
editorial condemnation of the technique in the press over the next two years. Concern
grew that the use of subliminal messages in advertising could be a form of
brainwashing, and demands began to be made that subliminals should be federally
regulated and/or banned. Speculation of possible conspiracies by hidden persuaders in

the media prompted the writing of a popular book expos of the same name, The Hidden
Persuaders by Vance Packard. The book described the rise of "professional persuaders"
in the media; professionally applying psychology and social science research to sales
tactics in what was termed the "depth approach." Packard summed up the anxiety of the
public surrounding the advanced "motivational research" being applied to advertisements,
"Large-scale efforts are being made. . . to channel our unthinking habits, our purchasing
decisions, and our thought processes. . . Typically these efforts take place beneath our
level of awareness; so that the appeals which move us are often, in a sense, hidden (qtd.
in Ellison)." Public opinion decided that the embedding of subliminal messages in
advertising was ethically wrong.
In November 1957, the National Association of Radio and Television
Broadcasters requested that all 300 of its member stations refrain from using subliminals
pending "review and consideration (qtd. in FCC Subliminal)," cautioning that the use
of subliminals could do more harm than good to advertisers based on public fear reaction.
Republican Representative William Dawson began congressional hearings on
subliminals, demanding that the FCC limit the application of subliminals in advertising.
Although a number of statements were released by the FCC asserting that they did not
approve of subliminals being used, they never specifically restricted the use of
subliminals, as it was decided that such restriction would be a censorship violation.
There is evidence that the techniques were never fully abandoned, as examples
have arisen of more recent subliminal telecasts. Frames showing pictures of a skull and
the word blood were also inserted in the horror movie The Exorcist (1973) to enhance
the emotional impact of the film. In 1973 a television commercial for childrens toys was

taken off the air by the Federal Communications Commission for including the
subliminal message Get it! imbedded between frames. The FCC then issued a warning
against further TV or radio subliminations (qtd. in Ellison). In a study conducted by the
Journal of Advertising in the 1980's, 78% of the respondents claimed knowledge of
subliminals in advertising, 50% of whom believed subliminal techniques were used
"always" or "often," and 23% who believed they were used "sometimes (Zanot, Pinkus,
Lamp 39-45)." The conclusion of the article was that subliminal advertisement was alive
and well. Whether the techniques were effective was another matter. In 1989 the Journal
of Mind and Behavior published a detailed analysis of "Subliminal Techniques as
Propaganda Tools." The conclusion reached was that some subliminal methods, such as
the described embedding of spoken recordings in audio frequencies, could deliver
messages successfully, although the influence would likely be weak. As subliminals
would bypass rational criticism, they were acknowledged as a valid persuasion technique.
The analysis concluded, "the undetectability of subliminal stimuli may diminish their
resistibility relative to other persuasion techniques (Bornstein 231)."
A declassified CIA memo shows the Intelligence Agency's interests in conducting
research and analyses on subliminal perception as a subproject of its MKULTRA research
program in 1958 (CIA, Gottlieb). A report appeared soon after in the CIA's classified
journal Studies in Intelligence, though not necessarily the one referred to in the memo,
entitled The Operational Potential of Subliminal Perception. The conclusion of the
report was that subliminals could be effective but not in a reliable way, and many
variables were at play in terms of level of effectiveness and results. Along with other
techniques studied by the CIA, including hypnosis and extrasensory perception, it was

found that "although they occasionally produce dramatic results, their lack of reliability
and their requirement for extremely precise controls have limited their operational utility
to a very few very specialized instances (CIA, Gafford)." The purpose of such research
by the intelligence agency was to explore possibilities of altering a target's behavior
without awareness of said behavior change or its stimulus. It is unknown what research
has been conducted by the government in the period between the late 1950's and the
reported application of Silent Sound Spread Spectrum technology in the Gulf War
described in the previous section.
The conclusion reached from the publicly available research and documentation is
that subliminal message embedding can be effective to varying degrees. Combined with
brainwave entrainment techniques discussed in the next section of this thesis, the
subconscious effects on the listener can be increased. When the subliminal content is
custom designed for or by its target listening audience to contain positive affirmations or
guided meditations, the technology can be put to use in a healthy way to create positive
changes in mental and physical behavior.

Part 3 : Sound Healing


My first exposure to the use of sound for healing was in recordings available in
shops and online which purported to use special sound techniques to induce relaxation,
meditation, healing or support any number of behavioral changes. From Stop Eating
Junk Food With Hypnosis to Tantric Chants of Tibet, a wide variety of recordings are
now available on the market with the design and intent of changing the consciousness or
brainwave activity of the listener.
Some healing sound recordings are based around the healing power of chant and
mantra, and are typically unedited/unprocessed recordings of traditional vocal chanting
techniques from India, Tibet or other monastic areas. Others use a combination of
environmental and/or instrumental sounds combined with synthesized binaural beat
frequencies designed to induce specific brainwave states. Additionally, audible and subaudible/subliminal spoken material can be inserted in the form of a guided meditation or
affirmations to support a change of behavior/thinking in the listener. These techniques are
widely used in meditation, self-hypnosis and positive affirmation recordings, as well as
in the background music of many public spaces.
My research into the production of these sound healing recordings began with a
study of brainwave entrainment through listening to binaural beat frequencies. In the
middle of the 20th century, a wide variety of research was done on the effects of sound on
human consciousness. In the 1970s, scientific research papers began being published on
the use of binaural beat frequencies in acoustic brainwave entrainment. This was
discussed in a paper entitled Auditory Beats in the Brain, by Dr. Gerald Oster of the
Mt. Sinai Medical Center in the October 1973 issue of Scientific American. It was

discovered that pulsing tones called binaural beats occurred in the brain when two
distinct tones of different frequencies were played separately to each ear. The brain
begins to resonate and produce brainwaves matching the frequency of the stimulus
binaural beat, a process called entraining. As most of the brainwaves at play in the human
brain are usually below 20Hz and the human ears range of hearing does not go much
below 20Hz, direct listening to such frequencies will not register in the listeners
perception. Instead, these frequencies can be stimulated through the use of two discrete
stereo frequencies whose difference equals less than 20. The difference between the two
tones is the frequency at which the binaural beat will pulse. Therefore, a 200Hz tone in
the left ear and a 210Hz tone in the right ear will produce a binaural beating frequency of
10Hz, only perceptible to the listener within his/her own brain. The hemispheres of the
brain will then resonate and entrain to this frequency.
Robert Monroes research into binaural beats at the Monroe Institute of Applied
Sciences confirmed their effectiveness in brainwave entrainment. Monroe conducted
thousands of experiments using an EEG machine to monitor subjects brainwave patterns.
He also noted that the alterations of brainwave activity did not only occur in the area of
the brain responsible for hearing, or only in one hemisphere or the other, but that rather
the entire brain resonated, the wave forms of both hemispheres becoming identical in
frequency, amplitude, phase and coherence (qtd. in Thompson Scientific). This is the
description of the phenomenon termed hemispheric synchronization.
A number of researchers, including Dr. Lester Fehmi, director of the Princeton
Behavioral Medicine and Biofeedback Clinic, have verified this phenomenon. Dr. Arthur
Hastings described the effectiveness of binaural beats in sleep induction in his paper

entitled Tests Of The Sleep Induction Technique. Measuring participants brainwaves


with an EEG he observed the patterns of brainwaves changing and resonating with the
binaural frequencies being played. F. Holmes Atwater described the neurophysics of
brainwave entrainment in his research:
Within the sound processing centers of the brain, pulse stimulation
provides relevant information to the higher centers of the brain. In the case
of a wave form phase difference, the electron pulse rate in one part of a
sound-processing center is greater than another. The differences in
electron pulse stimulation. . . are an anomaly. . . [which] comes and goes
as the two different frequency wave forms mesh in and out of phase. As a
result of these constantly increasing and decreasing differences in electron
pulse stimulation, an amplitude modulated standing wave (the binaural
beat) is generated within the sound processing centers of the brain itself. It
is this standing wave which acts to entrain brainwaves. A conventional
binaural beat generates two amplitude modulated standing waves, one in
each hemispheres olivary nucleus. Such binaural beats will entrain both
hemispheres to the same frequency, establishing equivalent
electromagnetic environments and maximizing interhemispheric neural
communication (Monroe Institutes Hemi-Sync Process).
As brainwave patterns are slowed, a corresponding increase in balance between
the two hemispheres of the brain is seen. This balancing of the brain, called synchrony or
hemispheric synchronization, was first noted in EEG studies of experienced meditators in
the 1970s. In states of deep meditation, their brainwaves were found to shift from typical
asymmetrical patterns to a state of balanced brain activity. Binaural beats were found to
produce the same results of hemispheric synchronization more reliably and predictably,
and without the rigorous discipline of a meditation practice (Thompson The Scientific
Research). Dr. Lester Fehmi, director of the Princeton Biofeedback Research Institute,
has described the hemispheric synchronized state as allowing for the maximum
efficiency of information transport through the whole brain (Fehmi, Fritz).
To understand how binaural beats affect brainwave frequencies, we must first

understand the different brainwave states experienced by humans every day. Brainwave
frequencies are the measurement of the frequency of electrical pulses between neurons in
groups of brain cells (Mann 7). Research mapping brainwaves and their associated states
of consciousness has led to a classification system of Greek letters to differentiate
frequencies of brainwave activity. It was found that the normal range of brainwave
frequencies in the cerebral cortex neurons lay approximately between 0.5Hz to 30Hz. The
conclusion drawn from many studies posited that the brainwave states could be
categorized into Beta, Alpha, Theta, and Delta frequencies, associated with different
waking and sleeping states. Different researchers have labeled different ranges of
frequency as Beta, Alpha and so on, but a general range has been agreed on (Hutchinson).
The transition between different states is subtle and without specific start and end points.
Beta brainwaves are associated with externally directed linear thinking mental
activity, or day-time waking consciousness. The state is characterized by focus and
directed attention. Brainwaves of 12Hz and up are typically labeled as Beta waves. Most
of our daily, "working" consciousness is active between 13Hz and 20Hz, with increase in
frequency being related to increase in concentration and alertness. Beta frequencies above
20Hz tend to be associated with anxiety and arousal.
Alpha brainwaves are associated with internally directed non-linear mental
activity, a state of resting relaxation, contemplation and day dreaming. The state begins
around 12Hz down to about 8Hz, with relaxation deepening as the frequency slows. The
aim of meditation practice is to induce Alpha (and lower) brainwaves in the practitioner,
entering a state of non-directed or open focus, while maintaining wakeful awareness.
Alpha has been characterized as a super-learning state by many producers of brainwave

entrainment recordings targeting study skills and concentration improvement.


Theta brainwaves typically become prominent in the sleep state, and are
associated with dreaming brain activity, and emotional elements and experiences. Theta
brainwaves also appear in very deep meditation practices and have been associated with
visionary and mystical states of consciousness when experienced in a waking,
conscious state. Theta waves are found between 8Hz and 4Hz, with the slower
frequencies associated with deepening sleep states and dreaming. Theta is associated with
a high receptivity to learning and new ideas. Neurotechnology and biofeedback
researcher Thomas Budzynski and UC Irvine psychobiologist Dr. James McGaugh have
both found that information processing and recall are more efficient in the Theta state.
Budzynski explains that the Theta state is ideal for absorbing new information nonanalytically. In the Theta state, modification of habitual behaviors or consideration of
ones belief system could occur more easily if alternatives were presented (Budzynski A
Brain Lateralization Model). In his paper, Tuning In On The Twilight Zone,
Budzynski explains, a lot of work gets done very quickly, in the Theta state, which
lends itself to use with hypnotic induction, affirmations, and subliminal messages. We
take advantage of the fact that the hypnagogic state... has these properties of uncritical
acceptance of verbal material, or almost any material it can process. The theory behind
subliminal message embedding is that spoken messages can be played at a level of
volume at the threshold of hearing, such that the conscious mind cannot make out what is
being said. All sensory input, however, is being processed by the subconscious mind, so
the message can be heard and understood on a non-conscious and therefore not-as-critical
level. A Theta frequency binaural beat embedded in the bass (or other) frequencies of

music in a store, public space or on the radio, combined with subliminal message
embedding techniques, could theoretically be used to induce a more subconsciously
"open" state in the unaware listener to accept the embedded messages uncritically. The
application of such a technique on unknowing people would assumably have a wide and
varied range of effects in different individuals.
Delta brainwaves appear in deep, dreamless sleep periods of physical restoration.
Delta begins below 4Hz. While asleep in the Delta state, the brain releases large
quantities of healing growth hormone. In meditation studies, conscious experience of
Delta wave states has been associated with mystical experiences of the void; states of
free-floating, timeless consciousness. Delta binaural beats are typically used in sleep
induction recordings.
Multiple layers of binaural beat frequencies were also found to produce multiple
resonating wave patterns within the listener's brain. As the brain is constantly producing
waves of a wide variety of frequencies, the induced wave pattern of a binaural beat
frequency will only be the dominant frequency in a varied spectrum. Therefore, other
brainwave frequencies can be stimulated along with the dominant frequency
(Hutchinson). Which frequency becomes the dominant frequency usually depends upon
which layer of sound producing a binaural beat is loudest to the listener. Entraining with
multiple layers of binaural beats has become its own technique to more creatively induce
different brainstates. A popular application of two layers has been to use a dominant
frequency to slow the listener's brainwaves to the Theta state, and then apply a second
signal in the upper Alpha range. This has the effect of bringing a more alert, focused
awareness associated with Alpha to the deeply relaxed, dreamlike Theta state.

A more advanced technique, demonstrated in my thesis recording, is called the


Harmonic Box X method, and credited to James Mann, author of a guide to programming
sound and light entrainment sessions entitled Awakening Mind I. This technique involves
two layers of binaural beat producing sine waves, that is two frequencies on the left
channel and two on the right, all within a close range of each other. For example, 320Hz
on the left channel and 330Hz on the right channel, plus 325Hz on the left and 335Hz on
the right, would both produce a 10Hz binaural beat. Additionally, the 320Hz on the left
channel and the 335Hz on the right would produce a 15Hz binaural beat, and the 325Hz
on the left and 330Hz on the right would produce a 5Hz binaural beat. This example
creates entraining frequencies in the Beta, Alpha and Theta ranges. The two waves on the
same channel also interact with each other due to being slightly out of phase, producing
what are called monaural beats. In this example 5Hz is produced in each ear. Monaural
beats are an audio, rather than neurological, effect, and as such do not produce
hemispheric synchronization, but are used to support the pulsing effect of the binaural
beats to deepen the entrainment (Mann).
More recent techniques of digital processing are used in modern recordings, such
as digitally pitch shifting one channel of a stereo sound recording by the desired
frequency in Hertz to produce a synchronized binaural beating effect in a recording of
variable pitches. Low frequency oscillator-controlled amplitude and filter modulation can
also be used to replicate the rhythmic pulsing effect of a binaural beat, although again the
sound itself will not have a binaural brainwave entraining effect. Delay effects can be
added to vocal recordings to echo binaural rhythms as well (Thomspon Clinical Use).
Dividing 1,000 by the desired entrainment frequency in Hertz will yield the millisecond

value of the delay timing. Studies of binaural beats have been conducted mainly using
stereo headphones, to completely separate the two signals going into the brain. Studies
using stereo speakers in a room environment found the binaural beating and brainwave
entrainment effect present as long as the left and right channels of sound were audibly
separated to the listener. The listener's subjective experience of the clarity of a sustained
beating effect would indicate the efficacy of the stereo separation. As long as the effect is
audible, even if only on the edge of hearing, the entrainment and synchronization is
taking place.
As brainwave patterns move from Alpha to Theta to Delta, the amplitude of the
waves increases. This increased amplitude is taxing to the nervous system in its current
structure. The stimulation causes the brain to respond by creating new neural pathways
and to reorganize itself at a more complex level of functioning. Hemispheric
synchronization encourages balanced left and right brain processing and increased
communication between parts of the brain previously unconnected (Thompson The
Scientific Research).
Dr. Margaret Patterson and biochemist Dr. Ifor Capel at the Marie Curie Cancer
Memorial Foundation Research Department in Surrey, England found that the application
of specific frequencies to the brain would speed up the production of a variety of
neurotransmitters (McAuliffe). A 10Hz signal was found to boost serotonin production,
and a 4Hz signal produced catecholamines, a vital neurotransmitter for memory and
learning. Increased production of these neurotransmitters as well as acetylcholine has
been found to greatly enhance memory and learning. Binaural beats also release
endorphins in the brain which have been found to have powerful strengthening effect on

learning and have been known to reverse amnesia. Neuroscientists have discovered that
endorphins, serve as the bodys natural reward system, providing us with a rush of
pleasure whenever we learn something or act in some way that is conducive to our
survival as a species (qtd. in Thompson The Scientific Research). When the brain is
flooded with endorphins, the suggestion of a new belief system or behavior change is
more likely to be perceived as beneficial and adopted. Dr. Vincent Giampapa, M.D., of
Longevity Institute International and Vice President of the American Society of AntiAging Medicine, released a study showing that binaural beat frequency induction
dramatically increased production of DHEA and melatonin and a decrease of cortisol,
three hormones found to be proportionally related to increased longevity and well-being.
Dr. Giampapa states:
It has been shown that induced brainwave states can affect superlearning,
increased creativity, sleep induction, pain control, behavior modification,
focusing of attention, relief from stress, increased memory, and dramatic
improvements in mental and emotional health (qtd. in Thompson The
Scientific Research).
There is a new type of sound healing technology called vibro-tactile induction
technology. By using vibrating magnetic plates to translate sound waves into magnetic
pulses, a recording can be projected through the body of the patient, resonating with
different tissues depending on the frequencies involved, and stimulating the spinal cord,
brainstem and brain. This sound healing modality focuses on healing the body with
physical resonance. Chiropractic spinal adjustments use sound to vibrate a vertebra back
into position, for example. Cranial bones and cerebro-spinal fluid can also be influenced
with sound resonance. Dr. Jeffery Thompson of the Center for Neuroacoustic Research
describes the application of the technology:

By delivering these sound frequencies through the body directly, an


entirely different system of the bodyspinal cord and areas of the
brainstem and brainare brought into play, with the possibility of a much
deeper whole-body response. With this delivery system we have the
possibility of direct cellular stimulation. Direct stimulation of living
cellular tissue using sound frequency vibration has shown marked cellular
organelle response with a corresponding measurable increase of cellular
metabolism and therefore a possible mobilization of a cellular healing
response. Since the human body is over 70% water and since sound travels
5 times more efficiently through water than through air, sound frequency
stimulation directly into the body is a highly efficient means for total body
stimulation, especially at a cellular level (The Clinical Use Of Sound).
Mysticism is inextricably tied to sound healing. Music is a central element of
many religious ceremonies and rituals worldwide. Shamans, healers, monks and priests
have used chanting and vocal toning, drumming, and playing of gongs, bowls and other
instruments to induce altered states of consciousness conducive to meditation and
healing, and to open themselves or others to extrasensory perception and mystical
experiences. The spiritual or mystic elements of sound healing center on the concepts of
the energy body and chakra system of energy centers. Considering that all matter is
energy vibrating at different frequencies, the human body can be viewed likewise as
vibrating energy. Each organ, body part, nervous system, etc. has its own resonant
frequency at which it functions in harmony and health. When vibration is disrupted and
falls out of tune in a body part or organ, the result is illness.
A system of sound healing called tonepuncture uses tuning forks to resonate
sound into areas of the body. The tuning fork is struck and applied to an energy meridian
on the client, the same system used in Chinese acupuncture medicine. Tibetan singing
bowls, made from several types of sacred metals or larger ones made from quartz crystal,
are used for sound healing and meditation. They are typically described as being tuned to

an octave of the harmonic frequency of a specific chakra. The most commonly found
tuning system related to the chakras relates frequencies close to the note of C to the
root chakra, B to the sacral chakra, and so on, up to D for the crown chakra. I am
unaware of any scientific basis or studies supporting the relation of these sound
frequencies to these energy systems or the glands and organs associated with them.
Based on my research on brainwave entrainment and modalities of sound healing,
I began a project to practically apply what Id learned and to experiment with healing
sound. The project evolved into my Signal Flow performance in April of 2004. I had been
following my own meditation practice for over a year, and had incorporated listening to
binaural beat recordings for thirty minutes to an hour almost daily. My meditations
centered on deep breathing, mental affirmations, and visualization of various healing
techniques. I decided to frame my composition around the stimulation and healing of the
chakra system of the body, which I had become very familiar with in my studies and was
comfortable visualizing.
The piece was divided into seven sections, one for each chakra system, beginning
with the root and moving up to the crown chakra. The sound programming was done with
PC software called BrainWave Generator. Each section consisted of seven layers of stereo
sine waves producing binaural beat frequencies, with an additional layer of amplitudemodulated white noise. Each sine wave layer consisted of two slightly detuned sine
waves producing a binaural beat frequency, which additionally could be amplitudemodulated rhythmically to produce a pulsing effect at a different rate from the binaural
beat, for example. Graphic envelopes could be drawn to control dynamic volume,
frequency and modulation rates. The first part of the process involved collecting all the

frequency values I could find that related to the chakra system being focused on. These
were collected from several compendiums found on the internet, with references to a
variety of books, research studies and papers the frequency values had been taken from.
Some were scientifically based and straight-forward to understand, others featured vague
or non-scientific descriptions of effects. As I was keeping all of the binaural beat
frequencies below 15Hz, and tonal frequencies below 1000Hz, the question of which
frequencies from the list to use was mainly an aesthetic decision. The frequencies of each
section were generally focused on the chakra tuning system equating a near-"C"
frequency to the root chakra, "B" for the sacral chakra and so on, with harmonies of 5ths
and 7ths, and some unique frequencies from researchers who claimed (with nonconfirmable sources) effects on chakras, organs, glands etc. The first section, for
example, was centered on frequencies effecting the root chakra. Tonal frequencies of "C"
(256Hz) and its octaves were used in three layers, with binaural beats calculated by
dividing the frequency in half (lowering the octave) until resulting in frequencies fitting
below the Beta range. In the first section, binaural beat frequencies of 8Hz (Alpha) and
16Hz (Beta) were used, incorporating a technique of harmonic frequency combination,
which was found to produce smoother response and deeper entrainment to the waves.
In several sections of the piece I also included commonly used sound healing
frequencies called Schumann's resonances. The Schumann's resonances, named after
German physicist W.O. Schumann in 1954, are naturally circulating rhythmic
electromagnetic signals passing between the Earth and the ionosphere (30-250 miles up).
Research, while still in the hypothetical stage, has suggested that human biology is
directly and constantly effected by these electromagnetic frequencies. The frequencies

average to 7.83Hz, a threshold frequency between Alpha and Theta, and a desirable
meditative state. As many international historical trance-inducing practices such as
dancing and drumming have involved rhythms around this tempo, it makes sense that
their efficacy and aesthetic effect on listeners is due to the similarity to a naturally
occurring magnetic field constantly influencing our bodies and minds. Subjectively, the
application of Schumann resonances in binaural beat frequencies has been described as
grounding, connecting one with the natural rhythm of the Earth. Other "natural"
frequencies have been calculated from the revolution/orbit periods of Earth and other
planets, which has produced a movement of sound healing based on astrology. For the
root chakra, which is associated with connection to the Earth, I used a tonal frequency of
192.18Hz, an octave equivalent of the period of one Earth (synodic) day. As the tone is
near to a "G," the harmony with the chakra "C" tone was aesthetically pleasant. Later in
the piece, a tonal frequency of 136.1Hz (approximately a "C#") was used, an equivalent
of the period of one revolution of the Earth around the Sun. In Indian music this tone is
called the "sadja" or "father to others," and is a keynote. Other beat frequencies used in
the piece were frequencies associated with increased production of neurotransmitters, for
example 1.05Hz which has been shown to stimulate the pituitary gland to produce
healing growth hormone.
I wanted the piece to have the maximum healing effect possible based on
soundness and validity of the research involved. The binaural beat frequency element of
the piece was scientifically sound and proven to have a tangible effect on the human
brain. The tonal element, the concept of using specific audible tone frequencies to
resonate certain parts of the body, had little grounding in laboratory-based research

studies, however it was empirically backed by large groups of practitioners from many
backgrounds and eras who had written on the subject. A number of sound healing
frequencies associated with parts of the body were found in another researcher's
compilation of associations taken from two esoteric Latin texts. The scientific validity of
these values was unverifiable, but were included to add another, more experimental and
mysticism-based element to the frequencies. I also wanted feedback from the audience as
to the subjective efficacy of these tonal elements. Two such frequencies used in the
composition were 196.5Hz, which was said to be related to the heart (fourth chakra), and
its octave 393Hz, related to the eyes (sixth chakra) (Abbott, Yanis). The piece was
intended to be played in a concert hall or small performance setting, as opposed to
resonantly conducted into the listener via vibrating plates. The role of the tonal element
seemed to be the setting of aesthetic mood and texture, with healing resonance results
intended but not specifically expected. The hemispheric synchronization and brainwave
entrainment would do its work regardless of other effects. The framing and
contextualization of the piece as a chakra healing meditation would hopefully inspire the
listener to focus and meditate on those parts of him/herself while listening.
Having found a variety of appropriate frequencies both binaural and tonal, I began
assembling layers of sine waves which I could fade in and out in combination with each
other to produce harmonies and beating effects. Each segment stayed in the same general
frequency range. The binaural beats begin around 15Hz, the waking-consciousness-Beta
state, and slowly decrease to low-Alpha mid-Theta levels, where they hover for most of
the piece. At certain times in the piece, lower-Theta and Delta signals are introduced to
stimulate a deeper trance and dream-like state, combined with upper-Alpha signals to

stimulate conscious awareness and maintain wakefulness. In the final minutes of the
piece the signals return to the low-end of the Beta range to leave the listener in a relaxed
but wakeful, alert state.
In the Signal Flow performance of the piece, each chakra section lasted about four
minutes, with an additional three minutes at the beginning and end of the piece to shift
the binaural frequencies and slowly fade in/out. The sections of the piece were originally
created as fifteen minute meditation sessions with steady binaural beats. The sessions
were listened to while adjustments were made until the dynamic fades, levels and rates of
amplitude modulation, tonal harmonies, and binaural beats were found to be aesthetically
pleasant and relaxing. The session was then scaled down to four minute length and
exported into an audio file, which was edited in a multi-track editing program.
Equalization was used to emphasize certain frequencies in each section, and each section
was cross-faded by about twenty to thirty-five seconds with the section following it to
create a seamless transition. For the performance, the composition was sent through two
inputs of a stereo mixer with multi-band EQ, which was used to sculpt the dynamics of
the live sound.
The input to the other stereo channel of the mixer was provided by a laptop
running a modular synthesis and real-time processing program called Jeskola Buzz. The
software was used to create a real-time synthesizer environment controlled with a MIDI
keyboard. The synthesizer environment consisted of two two-oscillator wave generators
with ADSR envelopes and low frequency oscillator (LFO)-controlled lowpass (LP) filter.
The generators were set to generate sustaining tones with slowly shifting dynamics and
filtering. The output was then sent through a series of reverb, delay, LFO-controlled

phaser and flanger, LFO-controlled resonant LP and bandpass (BP) filters, and EQ
processors. Control of various parameters of the synthesizer environment were assigned
to control knobs on the MIDI keyboard. The output was sent to two more inputs to the
stereo mixer and mixed with the binaural beat composition. The synthesizer was
controlled and played live during the Signal Flow performance. Tones were chosen which
harmonized with the sine wave composition, mostly in fifths, and also to make slow
slides of pitch. The tones would occasionally interact with the sine waves and produce
additional beating frequencies which added unexpected elements to the texture. Creating
a performance instrument to play in real-time along with the composed sequences of sine
waves gave the performance a more dynamic and improvisational quality for me as well
as a level of unpredictability interacting with the other layers.
The Signal Flow composition was entitled 333 and was performed in the Mills
College Chapel. Four speakers were positioned around the audience so that the difference
in left and right channels of the audio would be readily apparent no matter where the
listener was seated due to proper stereo separation, and perception of the binaural beats
would be insured. The interaction of the waves in the space would also produce audible
pulsations or monaural beats. Small cards were handed out with the title of the piece and
explanation of the process and concept, along with suggestions to relax, close the eyes,
meditate, walk around the space and/or focus on the chakras. Movement around the space
was found to produce changes in the apparent perception of the beat patterns as well as
frequencies and harmonics perceived. Following the performance, some of the students in
the audience approached me to relate their subjective experiences of the sound. Three
people described moments when they felt specific areas of their body being stimulated. A

student who had been raised in an Indian family which meditated and was familiar with
the chakra system said that she had found the sound effecting her energetically. An older
couple who had been practicing an esoteric meditation and visualization technique
(Merkaba) for many years said that they found the piece a deeply moving experience, one
of them moved to tears, and very stimulating to their chakras. They compared the effects
of the piece to their experience of their own meditation technique.
Subjectively, my experience with binaural beat frequencies and healing sound has
deepened and intensified as Ive made it a regular part of my life. Generally, the more I
meditate with binaural recordings, the more centered and free of anxiety I feel. Binaural
beats could always be expected to help induce sleep and in many cases listening to
binaural beats when tired would relieve much of the feeling of fatigue. I currently
meditate with binaural beats several times a week, and also use commercial recordings of
guided meditations and mental exercises together with binaural beats. Applying the
techniques of subliminal/supraliminal message delivery and sound healing researched in
this thesis, I have been able to create my own affirmation and guided meditation
recordings with brainwave entrainment techniques comparable to professional,
commercially available recordings. I plan to continue composing and performing with
sound healing techniques and to sell customized meditation and affirmation recordings to
the public. I have also incorporated sound healing techniques into my personal healing
practice in combination with Reiki and other holistic healing techniques, and eventually
intend to offer healing services to the public as well.
The healing modalities of sound technology described in this paper are available
to any member of the public with a computer and a pair of headphones for as little as $30,

as well as on commercially available CDs. Many of the non-lethal weaponry and related
devices are likewise available to the public from a number of electronics and surplus
catalogues in print and online. Just as sound can be used to induce gentle, relaxing and
relatively subtle brainwave changes and shifts of consciousness, so can it be amplified to
extreme levels capable of doing damage physically and mentally to human beings. Sound
must be viewed as energy, which can be used to affect the environment and individuals in
positive life-enhancing ways as well as negative life-destroying ways. Through the
application of healing sound techniques, we can empower and heal ourselves mentally
and physically.

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