Before playing any composition, musicians tune their instruments carefully because they know that such a precise process ensures a high quality of music. Human tuning
The human body is the ultimate musical instrument, life is the music.
Our thoughts, emotions, interactions with others and the way we express ourselves are all manifestations of vibratory nature and can be therefore compared to the art of music: expressing and interacting in a harmonious way is the consequence of inner balance and very comparable to the fine-tuning of an instrument.
In my work as a Sound Healer, I have experimented with several techniques and instruments. Among these, my set of Pythagorean Tuning Forks is one of my favourites. They are gentle and powerful, subtle yet very effective, with the capacity to affect the nervous system at a very deep level.
The musical intervals of these tuning forks are based on the Pythagorean Tuning, that is, the single frequency of each tone of the scale is derived from the Harmonic Series. The harmonic (or overtone) series can be considered as the “natural” musical system, as it reflects laws of physics and acoustics, and it expresses specific proportions that can be found in nature.
The human body is also based on this system. In order to explain one of the reasons why I find working with these instruments so important, I have to delve into a technical explanation and I will keep it as brief and simple as possible.
Now think of this:
We are constantly surrounded by music, whether it is the music we choose or the music we don’t. For most people, the majority of the music they listen to is western music. Now, without going deeply into technical details, almost all western music that is performed on “fixed tuning instruments” (keyboards and guitars) uses a tonal system called Equal Temperament which determines the tuning of each note of the musical scales in use. This tuning system is the result of years of experimentation on how to make fixed tuning instruments like keyboards easy to build, tune and play. Human Tuning
The loss in this process is that the relationships between the notes of the scale (ratios) had to be “tempered” (hence the name “temperament”), that is to say that all the notes had to be adjusted (or altered) in order to fit into a scale made of twelve notes equally distant from each other (hence the name “equal”). This means that, in terms of frequency, the distance between a C and C# is the same as the distance between a C# and a D. The distance between D and D# is the same as the distance between D# and E… and so on. This tuning system is very practical, but it is also far from a pure harmonic tuning, based on the laws of acoustics.
The Pythagorean Tuning Forks are harmonically tuned using mathematical ratios and therefore they give our nervous systems a chance to experience these natural proportions in the form of sound. I like to think of them as a breath of fresh air after being indoors for a very long time. They are named after Pythagoras, the ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician who is also credited with an early study of harmonics and intervals in the western culture.
Of course, music is far from being the main cause of the problems of our nervous systems. The whole modern lifestyle is impacting on us and putting us under stress. In fact, music is more often than not of great help to us, at least from an emotional point of view. Nonetheless, I believe that the tuning issue is one that needs to be addressed because it is something that most people do not think about. We all know that sitting for hours on end in front of a computer, not doing exercise, eating bad food, etc. are all detrimental habits. Human tuning
But how often do we think that the music we love is basically, from a physical point of view, out of tune?
Or how often do we think of all the square angles our nervous systems encounter in our living spaces every single day?
How many square angles do you see when you are in Nature?
We often address big issues like air or water pollution and we do not notice other things that we take for granted as if they didn’t have an effect of some kind.
The nervous system is our interface with the physical world, an incredibly sophisticated and wonderful instrument that deserves a good tune as often as possible! Human tuning
As a musician and composer, I also use Equal Temperament and I am aware that many factors contribute to the quality of one’s music. Intention is probably one of the main aspects that can contribute to the nourishing and healing quality of a piece of music. In this brief article I am not trying to preach against a specific tuning system, rather addressing the need we all have to give our nervous systems a balancing experience from time to time, in order to maintain presence and awareness.
Copyright 2017/18 - Simone Vitale