Entertainment Magazine

The Science of Sound and Why You Need to Know It!

Posted on the 20 May 2013 by Rohan @rohanforsale

soundwaves-343804Moving through the 5 primary senses we arrive at sound. Having covered sight and touch, it’s now time to talk about the important role our hearing plays in our lives. Sound can of course cause a great degree of stress and discomfort, or it can be a tool of healing and pleasurable. It all depends on what the sound is, the sensitivity of the listener and the greater context. As someone who has been producing music for the past 10 years my ears are highly attuned. This is very handy when it comes to music, however it can be a real pain in the butt in other situations. I can hear conversations in other rooms, through closed doors. I can hear ringing and rumbling sounds that other’s don’t register (no not tinnitus, though I get that too) and the sound of someone chewing, drinking or knocking their fork on the side of their plate can be almost painful at times.

Not what my studio looked like.

What I wished my studio looked like.

My sensitivity to sound is greatly increased during times of stress, anxiety and exhaustion. So of course I do my best to keep my life as stress free as possible and get the rest I need. However I also have a number of environmental measures that I can take to make the soundscape a little less harsh. Just like the colors and objects we surround ourselves with, and the clothes that make contact with our skin, the sound in our environment can have a profound effect on our emotional state. And not just in sensitive weirdos like me

;)
Let’s take a look at some of the ways we can use sound to improve our lives, and make our experience more enjoyable.

Like Music to My Ears

Listen_to_the_Music_by_cocacolagirlie
The first point is obvious and most likely you already do this to a degree; listening to music to affect your mood. Although the science of why music can cause such strong emotional reactions in us is far from complete, the proof is evident. Studies have been conducted in which participants are played either a sad piece of music or a happy one. They are then asked to rate a picture of a face from 1 (being very sad) to 7 (being very happy). Those who had been listening to the sad music invariably rated the faces lower (sadder) and of course those who had heard the happy song rated the pictures much higher (happier). Our perception of things actually changes based on the mood of the music we expose ourselves to. You just need to imagine the final scene of The Titanic and replace the tear jerking score with the Benny Hill theme song to see what a difference a few notes can make.

The sound of color

The sound of color

Studies have also shown that different moods of music have very strong color connotations. Happy, major and up-beat tunes are associated with bright yellows and oranges, while melancholy and moody music tends to evoke dark blues and greys. People from different parts of the world report very similar reactions to this kind of experiment. In one study people from both the USA and Mexico matched the same colors to the same pieces of classical music. The point is that it’s possible to create a musical diet that will enhance your mood and bring your emotional state up. It’s also nice to indulge in a little melancholic music when in repose, or hi tempo rock when you require some motivation.

By matching the music with our intention we can get a lot more done and can gain more control over our emotional state. What we listen to does have an effect. Too much “down”, emotionally draining music will begin to bring us down, so enjoy it but be aware of this.

Visualize With Your Ears

the-sounds-nature-waterfalls-waterfall-and-d-289025
I posted a while back about visualization as a tool for personal enjoyment and relaxation. A big part of the visualization techniques I enjoy is the sound aspect. Putting on a good pair of headphone and playing the sound of waves crashing on a beach, or a waterfall in a rain forest can be incredibly soothing and peaceful. This can be done while you are working on your computer and is great for someone like me who finds music with lyrics impossible to work or read to because I get distracted. You can also do this during a formal meditation or relaxation.

Playing the sounds of nature, or other white noise, either through headphones or speakers can be very helpful if you happen to live in a particularly noisy part of a city. Car sounds, people shouting and rushing about, creaking buss brakes and so on can really wear you down. And so covering all that up with the sounds of nature sends safe and reassuring messages to the ancient reptilian part of our brain; the amygdala. This can greatly reduce anxiety built up from peripheral stressors.

Those Blasted Contraptions!

new-survey-details-the-ways-your-cell-phone-service-sucks

STOP BEEPING!

I think we all have a love-hate relationship with modern cell phones to some degree. I have a confession to make. I do not own a smart phone, and I do not want to. I love my dumb phone and I’ll hold onto it as long as I can. I don’t want facebook in my pocket. When I’m sitting in the park on a lovely sunny day the last thing I want to do is see what my relatives in another country are having for lunch. I have a tablet and a laptop, that’s plenty enough for me. But I digress. The point is sound. Calls, texts and other notifications drive many of us crazy. A phone vibrating on a desk gives me a fright every time, and I find the beep beep of a text to be obnoxious and annoying.

So what do I do? Texts neither vibrate nor make a sound on my phone. I look at my phone regularly to check the time and I notice texts that way. I also let those who have my phone number know that if they need to speak with me urgently, they have to call. Mobile phones have proliferated and advanced so quickly that we really don’t know the long term effects that they will have on all aspects of our emotional and physical health. Already however a number of studies have uncovered a group of anxieties and nervous issues surrounding the use of mobile phones including nomophobia. I’m thankful for the advances in technology that bring ease and efficiency to my life, however we get to decide what we do and don’t want to use!

So if you’re anything like me do think about making your phone work for you, and not stress you out or frighten you with it’s random beeping and buzzing

;)

The Nuclear Option

My precious...

My precious…

If you live with others or have noisy neighbors investing in a good pair of industrial ear protectors is a great idea! Because of my, often annoyingly, sensitive ears any kind of talking is enough to distract me from reading or writing. In cases where I can’t avoid hearing conversations I will pop on my snazzy ear muffs and bask in the dull hum of sweet silence. Most of the time I won’t need these but I’m glad I have them for when they are required! They can also be used for meditation or relaxation, and are great for getting to sleep at night while your upstairs neighbors decide to party all night long. They’re not the most comfortable things in the world to wear in bed, but you can make it work

;)

Conclusions

Life is filled with sound. Some sound is outside of our control like the rush hour traffic, and some can be manipulated like putting on music. Some sound is irritating and wears down our nerves, other sounds are soothing and rejuvenating. Sound has great effects on our emotional state and with a little thought can be used consciously to bring us to a happier, more contented place. Minimize the noise in your life that causes you to be disturbed, and increase the sound that you know brings you peace, happiness and more effective and enjoyable emotional state! There is also a slew of sound based healing techniques out there that may be worth checking out if it sounds like something you would benefit from. Good luck

:)

What do you do to shift the sound in your environment to suit yourself better?

Thanks for reading, all the best

;)

Rohan.

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