Cymatics and the Effect of Sound and Music on Society

Written By Daniel Kelly © 2007

In this Thesis I will attempt to answer questions about the relationship between Cymatics, the study of sound wave phenomenon, the implications of its use for alternative healing and the effect of music along with everyday sound on us as individuals and as a society. The relationship between these subjects may seem a bit farfetched to some people but the more I researched the subject of Cymatics along with its healing properties it became more and more clear that there was also a relationship between music and the patterns found in society. A subject such as this requires much more research than has been performed but I will try and un-blur the line as much as I can with the research I have done along with observations I have made on the effect of sound on society and individuals. Although Cymatics uses a pure tone and is applied to powder or a liquid to create a distinct pattern which can be re-created, I will attempt to draw similarities firstly from Cymatics, then to sound therapy and alternative healing techniques and finally I will move on to the social and individual aspect of sound and music’s effect on us as humans.

Cymatics is the study of sound wave phenomena and was pioneered by a Swiss medical doctor and natural scientist, Dr Hans Jenny (1904-1972). Hans Jenny spent 14 years of his life performing experiments bringing inert substances such as powders, pastes and liquids to life by using pure tones to excite these substances into forms such as flowing rivers and flowers along with structures that resemble art and architecture. All of Hans Jenny’s experiments were direct physical representations of how sound manifests into form through the use of different materials and a pure tone.


Cymatics uses a simple vibrating platform connected to a piezoelectric sounder mounted on a plastic tube. The piezoelectric sounder is connected to a signal generator and a tone of say 2 KHz is dialled up. On the platform is the material that will be affected by the tone whether it be salt, sand, water or a powder. As different materials respond differently to different tones. In Hans Jenny’s experiments he used a combination of sand and lycopodium powder. The lycopodium powder moves to the centre of the field and the sand moves out to the edges forming the lines that represent the field lines. When two frequencies are applied to the sand mixture at once, it begins to pulsate or beat. When a tone is applied to a layer of standard turpentine a regular latticework form appears, and when a tone is applied to glycerine, an insect like figure appears and moves like a worm or sea creature through water.

When a black liquid is dripped into a transparent fluid, the vibrations now produce circular eddy formations; there is always a pair of eddy formations, which continue to form two by two for as long as the tone continues. These eddy formations that are generated in the liquid are similar to the ones formed in the cochlea of our ears whenever we hear any type of sound. A plastic substance will always form into ball like shapes; to begin with smaller ball shapes jiggle around slowly forming and blending with other balls to form larger sphere shapes from the same continuous tone. The human voice can also be used to affect matter in the same way as the tone, a sequence of notes sung will form different shapes and a visual interpretation of melody can be seen.


Music and complex waveforms will also generate form in a liquid although it is not as uniform as a pure tone or a single note sung by a human and is more random but still shows the effect of sound on matter. When a tone is applied to iron filings along with a magnetic field the attraction of the filings to the magnet are substantially reduced allowing the iron filings to move around freely within the magnetic field and also form structures taking the shape of ant hills, or small cone or pyramid type objects but only because of the sound vibration applied will these forms appear. All materials and substances and the various states of movement behave in characteristic ways under sound vibration. A pulp will form a round shape and will circulate inside to out but the lycopodium will circulate in the opposite direction.

In either substance the vibrations will cause the material to join together, separate and pulsate all in quick succession with an outcome which looks like multiple eruptions or explosions or could even be related to boiling water but with magnetic properties. Higher pitch tones seem to generate more uniform patterns with an increase in pitch forming more and more complex patterns whereas lower tones seem to generate smooth ball like shapes. Increase in amplitude of either high, mid or low frequencies causes a more violent outcome with spikes and ejections of the substance from the main body.


Cymatics has been used also to aid in the healing process and has been used by the American Indians to heal the sick with sound and vibration. Also evidence suggests use of Cymatics in Greece, Egypt, China, Mexico and Brazil. Cymatic therapy is the use of pure tones to stimulate the tissue and structure of the human being, all organs and areas of the body produce a harmonic or a sound, which is extremely small in frequency and amplitude. Cymatics works on the principal that a specific organ will have a specific frequency and the use of a tone to replicate the natural frequency of the organ in question is used to manipulate the frequency that is being generated by the sick organ back to the original. In the 1930’s a researcher by the name of Harold Saxon Burr, suggested that diseases could be detected in the energy field of the body before physical symptoms appeared. Moreover, Burr was convinced that altering the body’s energy field could prevent diseases.

These concepts were ahead of their time, but are now being confirmed in medical research laboratories around the world. Scientists are using S.Q.U.I.D. (Superconducting Quantum Interface Device) instruments to map the ways disease alters the biomagnetic field around the body. In the early 1980’s, Dr. John Zimmerman began a series of studies on therapeutic touch, using a S.Q.U.I.D. magnetometer at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver. Zimmerman discovered that a huge pulsating biomagnetic field emanated from the hands of a TT practitioner. The frequency of the pulsations was not steady but swept up and down from 0.3 to 30 Hz, with most activity in the range of 7-8 Hz.


The biomagnetic pulsations from the hands are the same frequency range as brain waves. Confirmation of Zimmerman’s findings came in 1992, when Seto and colleagues, in Japan studied practitioners of various martial arts. The “Qi emission” from the hands is so strong that they can be detected with a simple magnetometer consisting of two coils, of 80,000 turns of copper. Since then, a number of studies of QiGong practitioners have extended these investigations to the sound, light and thermal fields.

Early Cymatic therapy performed by Dr. Peter Guy Manners based on these findings along with early research carried out by Hans Jenny centred around the audible aspect of this type of therapy and treated arthritis, muscular disease, bone disease, joint deformity and so on. It was kept into these specific fields so as to compile information and case history to validate experiments. In 2001 diabetic patients who frequently experienced a critical lack of blood supply to their feet due to diabetic neuropathy had tone generators under the soles of their feet during treatment. The tone would start at a pre-determined pitch and slowly ramp up to another pre-determined pitch and then return to begin a repeating sequence. The blood was able to be drawn into the feet and minimize the damage caused by neuropathy.

The mere thought of the use of sonic vibrations to enable healing in humans and possibly animals must seem a bit far fetched for some people to comprehend. Not only does it go against all the techniques medical practitioners are taught to practice to become “in tune” with the human body and its ailments, but it also opens the door for anyone with a desire,


need or curiosity to use another form of treatment aside from the traditional. The use of sound is at the forefront of our civilization, not only in the form of the spoken word as communication, but also as music in the form of communication. As I have mentioned above, the original studies conducted by Hans Jenny used sound to manipulate matter into shapes and patterns and into almost living structures, therefore, does music also have the power to shape?

If a simple pure tone can give rise to complex patterns to violent eruptions to swirling, swarming, dancing amoeba like shapes then the use of complex waveforms found in music may be seen to both: 1. Shape our society, and 2. Allow society to shape the music we make and wish to hear. The general assumption is that music is a product of the society and a reflection of its culture. This may be so in many cases, but there are also people who strongly believe that music shapes our personalities and our culture. Music dates back to the beginnings of civilization and most probably beyond and has been a form of communication of feelings and ideas for centuries before our time, but is it fair to say that music manipulates us and our thoughts or do we simply make the music that resonates with other like minds giving the pied piper illusion? All genres of music can be traced back to earlier forms of music, that is to say, that all styles of music today came from somewhere. It could be said that there is no new music - only adaptations of other forms and genres


manipulated by the writer to form a composite of genres that influenced the writer at the time.

If there were truly a new genre then it would probably be disregarded and not accepted by the wider public as it would be seen as too far ahead of its time. People are conditioned to like certain things by a certain age - mostly things that we have come into contact with before. This brings up the issue of form in the human psyche. If we are predisposed to like certain things that fall into the categories or the boundaries we set for ourselves, or are set for us, then music must be the manipulated form. In Cymatics, form is manipulated by a pure tone into definite patterns or behaviors specific to the tone, which is applied. The tables turn when form is already determined by a living entity such as a human being. A heart has a beat due to the physical requirements for life therefore the basis for music is already in place. Where the line is blurred as to the argument, does music manipulate society or does society manipulate music, is at the point where music resonates with the conditioned mind of the listener. If the listener is already predisposed to a certain type of thought process then to the untrained eye the music can be seen to have an adverse or positive effect on the listener. The term “sympathetic resonance” comes to mind. If a tuning fork in motion will induce a frequency into another tuning fork not in motion, if they’re both in the same key. Then a psyche with form already in place will automatically begin to resonate with the music that is being produced and the listener will relate to the thought process that went into producing the


music and therefore will have an effect similar to the tuning forks. In this case the two forks are already in motion -one being the piece of music and the other being the mind of the listener, in which case the listener will seek out the music that resonates with their psyche at that moment. The mind manipulates the form and the form resonates with the mind. This is why I think we sometimes like to hear music that reflects our thought process at the time. Sometimes we come across music that seems so new and so fresh that we think that it is a new form or new genre, which can be explained by the mind taking on a new form itself. As we grow and discover new things about the world and ourselves our mind and thought patterns change only slightly but accordingly. Have you ever heard something that seems to exactly duplicate the way you’re thinking at the time, and then find out that this band or group have been around for years? The music seems to have such an impact on you at the time that you see it as a new style but in an old genre. Does this mean that if you were to hear this piece a few months ago or even a few months later, would it still have the same impact on your mind as it did when you originally heard it? Did this album or song come to you as a result of the your new thought process or was it your new way of thought which may have seemed minor or insignificant at the time which bought the music to you to drive home this new thought process or period in life. Music can resonate with the human psyche and we can relate to the message being put forward by the music, but if this is the case then it would be unfair to suggest that music cannot shape a society.


If enough people are feeling the same way about an issue then the right piece of music at the right time may be all that’s needed to give society that push to unify their feelings into action over a pressing issue. Regardless of the like or dislike of the genre the message is being delivered it’s the message that is of importance. Just like good music is good music no matter if you’re into that specific genre, you cannot deny good music if it truly is. The same goes for a way of thought, if the message is one that many people believe consciously or sub-consciously it will have an effect on everyone no matter who said it, who sang it or what style of music it was delivered in. Just as a pure tone applied to different materials causes distinct patterns to emerge does this also apply to patterns emerging in society not just from music but also from any sound that is prevalent in everyday life, for instance? Would a factory worker think differently about a subject or their life or anything they thought about from day to day if they were to hear a bird chirping instead of a steel press grinding away, or would an office worker have different ideas about the world if they were to be listening to children playing instead of the monotonous background noise of a busy office? Would they be more productive at work if these sounds could be used to mask the other sounds of the original environment? Not to say that all factory workers and office workers are unproductive or dissatisfied with their jobs nor am I saying that these people would want to listen to birds chirping or kids playing but it makes sense to be listening to something that you can relate to on a physical and spiritual level and not the hum-drum mundane backwash of noise that bombards us everyday of 10

which most of us accept as a normal environment. Some people are so focused and driven by the world we live in today that the sound of a child’s laugh or a bird’s chirp would seem to be the most annoying sound they could imagine while they were trying to work. We know that a baby is most at ease when they can hear the mothers’ heart beat, as it is the babies’ closest recognition to the warm safe womb. A toddler can be calmed down by the sound of its mother’s voice and often parents will buy specially made audio CDs that are designed to help calm babies and children in preparation for bed. So given that we are all pre-conditioned to some sound before we are born so it would make sense that we would naturally seek out pleasing sounds to be at our most productive or relaxed. Every sound has its own signature or fingerprint and no two sounds are alike, except for pure tones, and most sounds can be grouped into categories. So given this are there patterns emerging in society from the everyday sounds we hear on a voluntary or in-voluntary basis. Are these patterns uniform and predictable or are they violent and un-predictable? It’s obvious to me that the same physical laws that affect the entire human race are the same as the physical laws that make up all music and all thought. Just the same as the lycopodium powder in Hans Jenny’s experiments are affected by the pure tones applied to them, thought patterns from an existing form i.e. our brains are able to affect sound and in turn, affect and resonate with the form and patterns already found in society. No matter what material has a sound applied to it, it is always affected in one way or another with specific pattern outcomes which can be recreated time and time again with absolutely no change in the results, provided the 11

characteristics of the experiment are the same. Although there have not been many experiments looking into how the brain processes music aside from the use of the electroencephalogram (EEG), which has shown that both the right and left hemispheres of the brain are responsive to music, there is much left to be discovered about this field of science. People are always looking for new ways of thought and new ideas in which we humans operate and function within ourselves and within our societies. I believe the time has come for us to put conventional teachings and ways of thought on the back burner for the sake of finding better ways of dealing with disease, injuries, medical anomalies and psychological conditions. For so long the norm has been to accept what these professions have been telling us sometimes without question. I don’t think that these things I have mentioned can be always fixed by a pill and often they’re not. I also believe the drug companies like to make us think that they have a fix for almost anything and conventional medicine is drawn into this way of thought as most drug companies have a finger in the teaching pie when it comes to university. After all they need to sustain their incomes somehow and what better way than to be advising medical students and the public on the best drug for a certain condition.


More and more people seem to be looking for alternative treatments for all kinds of things not necessarily because conventional medicine isn’t performing but because people are beginning to understand that conventional medicine is just that “conventional” and its not the only way results can be achieved. I hope that in the future it will be possible to steer away from the norm and into a new way of dealing with these sometimes life threatening situations where everyone could potentially diagnose and heal in their own homes then there would be no need to use drugs as a first option. I would hope that in the future there are more studies done by independent, non-biased researchers into the effect of music and sound on the human body. It seems to me that the surface has only been scratched and what was found had been stopped, covered up or disregarded by the very companies that it would bring down and be announced as a pipe dream, but had the potential to become a major part of all our lives. Ultimately this could spell the end of our reliance on drug companies. Maybe the answer is closer to us than we are currently able to believe or willing to accept, even as a possibility.


References: 1: Application of Cymatic Therapy Pt 1-4 Dr. Peter Guy Manners Retrieved November 14, 2006, from 2: The Structure and Dynamics of Waves and Vibrations Peter Pettersson Retrieved November 14, 2006, from 3: Science Measures the Human Energy Field Retrieved November 14, 2006, from 4: The Sound of Silence Pt 2 Thomas Vaczy Hightower Retrieved November 14, 2006, from 5: Top Ten Technologies Mike Adams Retrieved November 14, 2006, from



Picture on front page taken from


My brain.


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