Updated: Aug 24
We all know the therapeutic affect of music, or one would assume so. With the right music at the right time, it can deeply take you into a place of sanctuary, reflection, peace, excitement, reminiscence, meditation, wonder, or even resentment but when you have the ability to select your sounds you can playfully choose your emotions.
Binaural beats, if you haven't already heard about them, are also seen as brainwave entrainment. This is where programmed sounds encourage the recognition of an imaginary beat which induces a specific brain state...
According to The Hearing Journal "The frequency of the tones must be below approximately 1000 to 1500 Hz for the beating to be heard. The difference between the two frequencies must be small (below about 30 Hz); otherwise, the two tones will be heard separately and no beat will be perceived." Benefits of this theory include reduced anxiety, stress management and pain control. Not only these but also there have been reports of increased alertness, concentration, problem solving and improved memory. It is stated that low tones, at slightly different frequencies, need to be delivered through a set of stereo headphones, channeling the beats separately into each ear for this process to be effective.
The Hearing Journal explains "the principle of “frequency following response,” where the brain reproduces the frequency it receives via auditory or visual stimulation, leading to the desired change, i.e., relaxation, by reducing the excessive beta wave frequencies, which may exacerbate the reaction to tinnitus, and substituting alpha waves, which promote calmness and tranquility."
It seems this/treatment/process/therapy - or whatever you deem as more appropriate to describe it as - is related to the brain's ability to locate the sources of sounds in 3D and to track moving sound.
I don't know about you but what I am fascinated by is whether a music producer can create this process naturally, when building, composing and delivering certain types of music... or, does it need to be a carefully manipulated process with specifically programmed beats? A process which could perhaps later be incorporated into the design of a current composition.
Since music can send you into an almost hypnotic state or trance alone, this Bineural Beat theory also appears a powerful process that can be used for specific therapeutic purposes, as stated above an example was for Tinnitus treatment.
There are 4 main brainwave frequencies to discuss:
1. Delta - associated with the deepest levels of relaxation, restoration, healing and sleep
2. Theta - associated with creativity, intuition, spiritual awareness, memories, emotions and sensations, as well as trance state and relaxation
3. Alpha - associated with reducing stress, depression and anxiety as well as deep work focus
4. Beta - associated with logical thinking, alertness and conscious thought
5. Gamma - associated with awareness
When the perceived beat corresponds to the listed frequencies, the brainwaves incorporate or move towards that frequency. An example would be if a 315-Hz sine wave is delivered into the right ear and a 325-Hz wave into the left ear, the brain is transitioned towards the beat frequency 10 Hz which is in the alpha range. Since you can see from above, this induces stress reduction, as well as increased focus.
If we were all introduced to this process earlier on in life would it prevent a lot of stress induced health problems? For someone who believes in the healing power of music as medicine I would be the first to introduce it into the school's education system (amongst other holistic approaches).
Next time you reach for that first cigarette, next glass of wine, or migraine tablet perhaps you can pause for a second, consider a new approach and see if life's stresses can really be reversed, or at least managed in a different way...
*Just as a reminder T-Minus and ACS Custom will be joining Rose with her live show 'Music as Medicine' from 5pm this Friday 11th February to discuss National Tinnitus Awareness Week, which also falls this week, as well as hearing protection, sound healing and plenty more where music is involved.