Sound, Healing of the Ancients
Music has the power to affect our health and wellbeing. This belief and related cultural practice has been evident throughout history but the clinical profession of music therapy is only some 75 years old. As a field of practice, music therapy has been described as an art and a science and is an emergent practice within the pursuit of optimal health.
Around 5 000 years ago the ancient Egyptians established an extraordinary civilisation where music therapy was practised as a healing method in temples. More recently, science has proven that sound, or vibration, has a strong impact upon substance.
Fascinated with the sound of vowels, the ancient Egyptians knew about their acoustic power. They believed that these sounds could generate vibrations with healing abilities. Using a method called ‘toning’, they manipulated the vowel sound using breath and voice to render therapeutic sounds.
Musicologist Laurel Elizabeth Keys writes in her book Toning: The creative power of voice: “Toning is an ancient method of healing. The idea is to simply restore people to their harmonic patterns.”
Edgar Cayce, while in a trance, talked of the priests in ancient Egypt as using seven vowel sounds to activate the seven energy centres of the body.
The priests and priestesses of these sound temples were specialised in seeing to the cause and care of things. They understood the kind of music and colour that should prevail in order to maintain the stability, welfare, happiness, prosperity and spiritual advancement of each individual. They also knew, in similar detail, what kind of music should be rigorously avoided because of its destructive degenerate effects upon humans and the community.
Renewal of the divine harmony and rhythm of the human body, emotions and mind was their craft. All forms of physical imbalances and disease, emotional, mental and physical, were regarded as being ultimately musical problems. The sick individual had lost his or her inner harmony. The person had allowed dissonance to enter the symphony of their being and they were no longer in tune with the Universe and its laws. Therefore, outward audible music, the power of the singing voice, colour and sound were used to realign individuals back to universal harmony.
The ancient Egyptian had a deep understanding as to how to create by combining vocalisation and visualisation to effect manifestation. In addition they also knew and understood the power of the heart chakra while projecting specific sounds onto and into the individual. In short, frequency and intention were applied to produce healing and balance.
This was later supported by Pythagoras, one of the most famous and controversial ancient Greek philosophers, circa 570 to 490 BCE. He discovered the relationship of geometry and mathematics to music within the Classical Period, when he found that a string stopped halfway along its length produced an octave, while a ratio of 3/2 produced a fifth interval and 4/3 produced a fourth.
As with the Ancient Egyptians, Pythagoreans believed that this gave music powers of healing, as it could ‘harmonise’ the out-of-balance body and this belief has been revived in modern times.