Music and Binaural Beat Therapies
Written by Dr. Wally J. Bartfay © 2023
Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
Everything in nature and the universe vibrates, pulsates, oscillates, and resonates at a given frequency (Research and more info HERE For example, the Earth’s natural frequency is called the “Schumann Resonance”, which pulsates at a rate of 7.83 hertz (HZ), and our known universe vibrate at a frequency of 432 HZ. Listening to a sound at 432 Hz is especially pleasing to the ear, and is said to reduce stress and promote emotional stability by putting you in sync with the “heartbeat of the universe. According to string theory, absolutely everything in the universe—all of the particles that make up matter and forces—is comprised of tiny vibrating fundamental strings (Research and more info HERE). We are all familiar with how music can make us dance and change our mood; however, sounds employed at certain frequencies have also been demonstrated to be capable of producing “acoustic levitation” of various objects in mid-air in laboratory experiments (Research and more info HERE).
It is interesting to note that the ancient Chinese character for music 樂 shares the exact same character as happiness, and medicine 藥 , with the added symbol for plants placed on top. Greek physicians used flutes, lyres, zithers and vibrations to heal their patients, promote sleep and decrease pain. In his famous book De Anima, Aristotle (323–373 BCE) reported that flute music could arouse strong emotions and purify the soul (Research and more info HERE). Indeed, the Greeks recognized the association between music and healing by designating a single god, Apollo, for both disciplines. Indigenous people in North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa employed repetitive drumming, chanting, and singing as part of their traditional healing practices (Research and more info HERE). Similarly, Vedic philosophers in ancient India used chants and monosyllabic words, called “Mantra”, to calm the senses and mind, and these themes run throughout various ancient cultures, healing traditions, and religions (Research and more info HERE).
Music therapy has been documented to have various positive clinical and health effects including decreasing stress and anxiety (Research and more info HERE), improving sleep quality and quantity (Research and more info HERE), treating and managing depression (Research and more info HERE) modulating blood glucose and cortisol levels increasing dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain, which is largely reduced in Parkinson’s Disease patients, (Research and more info HERE), decreasing pain levels helping to treat and manage hypertension, and helping patients with Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia to name but a few examples.
If the left ear receives a frequency of 300 Hertz (HZ) and the right ear receives one at 310 HZ, the binaural beat you hear is 10 HZ
The Binaural beat was first described by Heinrich Willhelm Dove in 1839, who was a physician and meteorologist (More info HERE). Earphones were not invented during his time, so he employed tuning folks and discovered that slightly different frequencies played separately to each ear produced a perception of interference beats at the same rate as would be physically created. However, the first scientific paper was published by the biophysicists Gerald Oster in 1973 in the journal Scientific American (HERE). In his article entitled “Auditory Beats in the Brain”, Oster believed that auditory beats could be employed as an important research tool for auditory and neurological disorders and may also be a potential diagnostic tool for Parkinson’s disease.
Binaural beat therapy is an emerging form of sound wave therapy that makes use of the fact that the right and left ear each receive a slightly different frequency tone, yet the brain perceives these as a single tone. In other words, the brain creates an auditory illusion (More info HERE). For example, if the left ear receives a frequency of 300 Hertz (HZ) and the right ear receives one at 310 HZ, the binaural beat you hear is 10 HZ If a binaural beat is played over time it can synchronize with your brain waves and alter brain activity and levels of arousal, which can be used to modulate cognition and analytical thinking and problem-solving, reduce stress and anxiety levels, improve sleep, enhance memory recall, as well as to enhance mood states (More Info HERE). The human hearing frequency, or audible pitch, is between 20 HZ and 20,000 HZ Hence, a 10 HZ binaural beat would have 10 vibrations or cycles per second, which would constitute an auditory illusion.
More research is warranted to examine how music and binaural beat therapies may aid patients across the lifespan with a variety of disorders and health challenges.