Sound: its Importance & Significance


Image reproduced by kind permission of Jason Williamson

This symbol is known as the Om and it represents the sacred sound of the Universe.

Pythagoras, the Greek mathematician, philosopher and musician, who lived around 500BC, saw the Universe as a vast musical instrument. He called the sound the Universe makes, “the music of the spheres.”

Not only does the Universe produce sound but everything in it creates sound too, including you. Our bones, organs and tissues all vibrate, though at different rates, creating sound.

The result is that every individual produces a unique sound of their own known as the fundamental note. Everyone’s voice is unique too.

The significance of sound is illustrated by the fact that it is the first sense to develop in the foetus within the womb. The ear starts to develop in the 10th week. By the 18th week it is functioning and at 24 weeks the foetus is actually capable of active listening. Hearing even functions when individuals are in a coma, and it is the last sense to shut down at the point of death.


The History of Sound

The use of sound, and music in particular, is rooted in pre-history. We assume our early ancestors used sound in their lives: to speak with each other, to celebrate birth and death, to cure sickness and to call on their ancestors.

Egyptian papyri over 2,600 years old refer to using incantations to help with infertility and rheumatic pains. So the Egyptians were into sound healing several thousand years ago. Also, the Bible tells us how David played his harp to try and lift King Saul’s depression, while the walls of Jericho crumbled after seven days of marching and trumpet playing, and a final big shout… Clearly somebody knew a thing or two about the effects of vibrations on building foundations.


It seems likely that shamanism in many forms, is actually the oldest form of healing using sound. Though it is often associated with the Indians of North America, shamanism was, and still is, a part of cultures worldwide.

Sound was an integral part of the shamanic procedures and was used to connect the shaman with the ”spirit world”, and to enter other realities and levels of consciousness. Sound was used to heal, for protection, invocation and exorcism. In fact, rattles are probably one of the oldest healing instruments. Their purpose was to loosen and then shift negative energies.

The drum, another old and widespread instrument can be used to slow down or quicken the heartbeat and increase blood flow.


Image reproduced by kind permission of Misha Malpica

The Ancient Greeks understood the effects of music as a form of medicine and this practice continued until Medieval times when there appears to have been a shift in attitude. Music, for some reason, lost its healing function and was seen to be listened to for pleasure only.


What is the function of sound in our world today? In the Middle East wailers at funerals weep and wail to help the mourners to express their grief. Shops play music to increase their sales whereas the dentist’s waiting room may play soft music to calm anxious patients. Meanwhile Rugby teams psych themselves up before a match with their team chanting. To indicate significant times of the day and special occasions, whistles are blown, bells ring or toll and clocks chime.

However, we must be aware that sound used unwisely or aggressively also has adverse effects on the body. Mill workers lost their hearing in the weaving sheds of industrialised England. Actors and comedians may feel mortified if they are booed or slow hard clapped off the stage and a verbally angry parent or teacher can really frighten a child. Police and ambulance sirens shatter the peace and quiet and signal trouble for somebody.

So we need to be aware sound can be used either positively or negatively depending on the intention of the user.


Sound healing

Sound healing is as old as Man himself. Our bodies instinctively know that connecting with sound can raise our spirits and help us to feel more energised. We are energy bodies and therefore we vibrate. Every organ, tissue and bone in our body vibrates and produces sound. However, when disease affects a body part, it changes its vibratory rate and, as a consequence, a different sound is created. But sound, in a variety of forms, can be used to restore the original sound pattern and help to promote healing. The principle behind this method of healing is treating “like with like.” The human voice plays a major role in healing too and also can be used as a diagnostic tool by the clinician or therapist. The quality of the voice can tell us about the physical, mental and emotional condition of the individual. The way the actual voice is used reflects the energies, thoughts and feelings of the individual. Tune into the voice and you have a mirror to the soul.


The great thing about sound is its potential for self-healing. Mantras are a good example of this. A vocal tradition originating from the East, it uses a sacred syllable, a particular word or phrase which is repeated many times. The purpose of this activity is to concentrate the mind and to connect with an external spiritual power. Mantra chanting is one method of entering a different state of consciousness. Meditation produces a similar result.

Here are a few more self-healing suggestions:

  • Singing alone or with others
  • Chanting and toning
  • Playing an instrument
  • Active listening to the type of music you enjoy
  • Sounding your chakras
  • Talking a walk and specifically listening to the sounds of nature around you

The use of sound to promote healing has captured the imagination of several famous people. Nostradamus, a French seer and adept who was born in 1503, predicted that cancer would be healed through the use of pure tones by 1998. The German educator Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) made a similar prophecy. However, the psychic Edgar Cayce (1877-1945) went a step further. He declared that sound would be the medicine of the future. And currently in 2016 Sound Essences has already made over 50 space sprays with sound in them, and more await in the wings!