A Deeper Look Into Sound, Vibration, & Healing

By Paul Thomas, 2013

Part I


The real voyage of discovery consist not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. 

 -Marcel Proust, French novelist


It seems fair to begin with, what is sound? What is vibration? And, if and what is the difference between the two?

Traditionally, vibration is defined as oscillations in energy between a point of equilibrium. Sound, or “pressure waves,” is considered a type of vibration that propagates through a medium, such as water or air. That field of vibration then, can be detected and perceived through our hearing and touch sense faculties (such as the vibrations of a drum, human voice, engine motor, or earthquake etc.).

We notice that there is not a clear distinction or fundamental difference between the two. As we continue to explore and expand our ideas of sound and vibration, we discover that they are essentially identical. Distinctions made between them, or choice of words, come from a more relative need that depends on what particular phenomenon one is trying to describe or explain. The concepts of “matter,” and “energy” are also a very important and interrelated part of this discussion to investigate, but let us keep things simpler for now. Remember too, that language itself is a shared system of symbols that is intended to stand for something else other than itself, and is not inherently or innately that “thing.” If it is vibrating, it is making a sound. If it is making a sound, it is vibrating.

“Sound” is most commonly used to refer to our human auditory experience of vibrations (i.e. sound is audible vibration). However, it is crucial to remember that our ear drum membrane, like our other primary sense organs, is only capable of detecting an extremely narrow band of propagating vibrations around us. Specifically, the average human hearing range is from around 20 to 20,000Hz. “Ultrasonic” sounds or frequencies begin at 20,000Hz (cycles per second) and above. Likewise, our sight, taste, smell, and sense of touch are sensitive only to tiny portion of their physical, acoustic, or chemical informants. Our eyes can only detect electromagnetic radiation (vibration) from a wavelength of 400 to 700 nanometers, and are completely oblivious to the infrared (200 nanometers) and ultraviolet (1000 nanometer) ranges, which boarder it. Each human sense is a filter; filters that are sensitive to only a narrow range of vibrations. The beautiful palette of light, color, and acoustics that we readily experience is less that 1% of the total spectrum. We have created the technological capability to artificially amplify, refine, and extend our access to information outside those bandwidths, but our brain must still then “translate their outputs into extrapolations of our physiological sensitivities to effectuate their utility” [1]. Furthermore, because of these scientific instruments, which are sensitive to a broader range of vibrations, we know that we live in a seemingly infinite sea of other vibrations, ranging from radio to cosmic rays and beyond. Even though we normally cannot perceive them, they are as present as the red of a rose, or the roar of a cannon. In fact, some ultrasonic generators can emit narrow beams of sound that are “are far more intense than the roar of a jet engine” [8].

Our human organism gives us a wonderful ability to experience such diverse feelings and perceptions of being, but at the same time, filters out an enormous amount of data within and without us. There is much more happening than meets the eye, or sensory organs to be correct.

Part II

Backed by a wealth of research, evidence, and experience both modern and ancient, sound healing/therapy and vibrational medicine explores how audible and inaudible, felt and unfelt, vibrations effect our psychological and physiological complex. Stringed instruments, drumming, digital music/tones, singing/toning, crystal and brass bowls, tuning forks, bioresonance and radionic devices, or ultrasound, are all examples of tools that can be used for sound healing/therapy and vibrational medicine.

Using sound and vibration for those purposes is certainly no new idea. The didgeridoos of the Australian Aboriginals, the drumming of Native American Shamans, the flute and lyre of Greek philosopher and mathematician, Pythagoras, the sacred vowels and mantras of the Egyptians, Hindus, and Tibetans – sound has long been used in ceremony and solitude for healing and transformation. Pythagoras (circa 500 BC), could very much be considered the father of music therapy. The philosopher, Lamblichus (circa 300 BC), (known to have written the Collection of Pythagorean Doctrines) noted that “Pythagoras considered that music contributed greatly to health, if used in the right way…He called his method ‘musical medicine’…To the accompaniment of Pythagoras’ his followers would sing in unison certain chants…At other times his disciples employed music as medicine, with certain melodies composed to cure the passions of the psyche…anger and aggression” [2].

Modern scientific research has continued to demonstrate how sound/vibration can affect positive changes in our psychological and physiological complex. Sound/vibration can effectively: entrain and shift brain wave states, slow and regulate breathing, heartbeat and pulse, lower blood pressure, reducing muscle tension, raise body temperature, increase circulation and endorphin production, reduce levels of stress related hormones, increase levels of nitric oxide which is associated with the promotion of healing, boost immune function, improve memory and learning, decrease clerical error, increase endurance and productivity, strengthen digestion, decrease depression, and many others ailments and conditions [3] [4] [9].

In March, 2014, a medical team at FUS Center of University Children’s Hospital Zurich was successful in using focused ultrasound in the treatment of a brain tumor. Led by Javier Fandino, M.D., Professor of Neurosurgery at Kantonsspital Aarau, an adult patient with a recurrent glioma was treated with noninvasive focused ultrasound thermal ablation. Dr. Fandino comments, “The patient was awake and responsive during the treatment, and we were able to successfully target and destroy a part of the tumor located deep within the patient’s brain. We are very encouraged that we could utilize focused ultrasound to accomplish this with no side effects or complications” [14].

Another example of our relationship with sound/vibration comes from the fascinating work of Dr. James Gimzewski, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCLA, and faculty director of the Nano & Pico Characterization core lab at the California NanoSystems Institute. In 2004, using an Atomic Force Microscope, he and his research team have been able to listen to and identify the sounds and specific frequencies that cells emit. For example, they found that ordinary yeast cells make make a constant sound at a frequency of about 880 Hertz, about two octaves above middle C. Gimzewski launched an entirely new field he calls “Sonocytology.” This measurement of cellular activity is so direct and immediate that Gimzewski sees it as a possibility to identify cancer cells because cancer cells have much softer membranes than of normal cells and should emit a noticeably different frequency/sound that a healthy cell [5].

Sound researcher and educator, Joshua Leeds points out that “there is another even more important possibility with Gimzewski’s research. By greatly amplifying the sounds of tumor cells and redirecting that sound back to tumor cells, resonance should cause the tumor cells to absorb that acoustic energy, leading to their destruction, while leaving adjacent healthy cells unharmed. With further developments, Sonocytology therapy may offer a quick, non-invasive and drug-free therapy to treat malignant tumors” [6].

In fact, this has already been done. In the early 80’s, composer, acupuncturist, author, researcher, and teacher, Fabien Maman, conducted research at the biology laboratory of the University of Jussieu in Paris with Helene Grimal, a biologist at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris. Their work demonstrated the impacts of acoustic sound on human cells. Taking photos of the cells under a microscope, they found that through a series of acoustic sounds, they could explode cancer cells, as well as energize healthy ones [7].

The following passage is from Fabien Maman’s book, The Role Of Music In The Twenty-First Century, which contains the photos and analysis of cancerous cells progressively destabilizing over time:

“The goal of these experiments was to observe the effect of sound in the nucleus and the electromagnetic fields of human cells. I took pictures of healthy human cells as well as cancer cells under a microscope…We experimented with both healthy blood cells, hemoglobin, and cancer cells. The cancer cells were in culture in the laboratory of the University of Jussieu in Paris. These cells came from cancer of the top of the uterus. In 1951, a women named Helen Lane was treated for this type of cancer at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD. In 1952, a continuous cellular lineage called HeLa (using the first two letters in the first and last names of Helen Lane who had given the original cells) was established. Since this time, these cells have been cultivated in laboratories through out the world and used as the biological base of many different research projects… [I photographed] the inside structure of each cell as it reacted to the different sounds I produced. These photographic results show cells from uterine cancer tissue which had been exposed to different ranges of sound coming from acoustic instruments and the human voice…[the following conditions were maintained:] the sound was produced at a distance of 30 centimeters from the cells at an amplitude of 30 to 40 decibels. Even though 30 to 40 decibels is a relatively weak frequency, the sound waves affected a noticeable change in the cells and in their electromagnetic fields…[the] explosion of the cancer cells was due to the expansion of the sound as it traveled outward through the cellular membrane from the center to the periphery…The French physicist, Joel Sternheimer, has said, ‘the masses of particles behave and maneuver among themselves as if they were musical notes on the chromatic scale.’  Using this explanation, we could say that the explosion results from the resonance between the sounds that we send and the elementary particles contained in the inner structure of the cell. The accumulation of the sound created an intolerable dissonance within the cell. In other words, the dissonance between the musical frequencies of the elementary particles within the cell and the sound introduced from without accumulated as the scale progressed and thus became unbearable for the cell. Its structure became less and less stable and finally exploded due to the disorganization of the protein.” (Maman, p.45-47, 61-62) [7].

Gimzewsk’s and Maman’s research further illuminates the powerful and very important potential sound/vibration has when understood and utilized in a new way. A 1988 article from the New York Times on ultrasonic sound/vibration (sound/vibration that oscillates 20,000 times on more a second) quite candidly states the nature and potential of its use: “The [ultrasonic] beams can make, break or rearrange molecules, control the crystalline structure of matter and even levitate objects or blobs of liquid. Ultrasonic irradiation, some experts believe, will underlie much of the technology of the 21st century “ [8]. If sound/vibration can change and control molecular structure, there is no limit on what it can or cannot do.

In addition, Gimzewsk’s and Maman’s work begins to point us towards a more intimate picture of our connection with sound/vibration and “reality” itself. Thus far, our discussion on sound and vibration has still been largely dualistic in nature. In that, the perspective is still “us” and “sound,” “human beings” and “vibration.” It is here where sound healing/therapy and vibrational medicine journeys a step further and aims to bridge that divide. It is not out of one box and into the other, but rather a seeking in expansion of thought and current understanding. It means reexamining conventionally held materialistic beliefs about our ontology and cosmology. A borderless seeking that reveals a more unified paradigm of mind, matter, body, and the universe as a whole.

 Part III


Concerning matter, we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.
-Albert Einstein, Physicist  

The core matter of this reexamination, is matter itself. Which, ultimately contains no “core” or “it” within “itself”. Matter is a noun, a figure of speech, not a thing. As strange and perplexing as it sounds, when critically examined, the so called “solidity” of the “physical” universe around and of us, is only a persistently clever illusion. It is only a matter of perspective. John Negele, the W.A. Coolidge Professor of Physics at MIT explains that “the quest to understand the fundamental building blocks of nature has led to the exploration of successive layers of worlds within worlds” [10].

For example, take a look at your hand. It can be seen as a network of tendons, muscles, bones, nerves and arteries. Following the paradigm of classical or Newtonian physics, if we peer further into these “physical objects,” which Newton described as “solid, massy, hard, impenetrable particles,” we encounter the world of atomic structures (molecules) held together by chemical bonds or attracting forces. The bones in our hand are then seen composed of proteins and minerals such as calcium and collagen, our nerves composed of a structural proteins named neurofilaments. This is so for the three primary states of matter (solids, liquids, gases) that are conventionally defined. Whether it is the air you breathe, the neurons in your brain, or the chair you are sitting on, all these states of matter can be broken down into the dynamics of the atomic and subatomic world.

More importantly, the only differences in these “states of matter” is a difference between the rates of motion or speed of atomic particles. We find ourselves again at the notion of vibration. Still within the bounds of what is called Particle Theory in conventional physics, it is important to understand that all atoms and hence all “matter,” is in a constant state of motion or vibration. All particles continually vibrate, in varying directions, speeds, and intensities. The atomic particles that make up a gas vibrate and move more freely at high speeds, whereas a solid vibrates at much lower speeds and hence we experience and observe them much differently. The reason that you cannot pour water through a table or put your hand through a wall, is not because of a fundamental difference in substratum particles per se, but because of a variance in the rate/speed of molecular structures, and the corresponding attracting or repelling forces of the electrons in orbit. Consider the following analogy of a rotating airplane propeller. At slower rates of motion, indiviudal propellor blades are able to be perceived, but as the rate of speed increases, they blades become more and more indistinguishable until they are almost an invisible blur. In the same way, a block of ice is perceived as a “solid” state of matter until heat is applied and the rate of motion or vibration of the particles within the ice block begin to speed up and eventually evaporate into an imperceivable gaseous state of matter. The only difference is a change in rate of vibration and resulting shift of molecular bonds. We experience different “states of matter” and their subsequent behavior and properties due to the motion and vibration of particles. Particles, which underlie all “matter.”

As “sound” is used to refer to a narrow band of detectable vibrations by our auditory organ, the true definition of “physical,” should be something more like: “a range of vibrations that is readily detectible by the primary human sense organs.”

Pythagorus was quite correct when he said ,”each celestial body, in fact each and every atom, produces a particular sound on account of its movement, its rhythm or vibration. All these sounds and vibrations form a universal harmony in which each element, while having its own function and character, contributes to the whole.”

In the Hindu Vedic tradition, they say “Shabda Brahman,” which means, “the universe is sound.”

It is also very important to understanding the equivalence between mass and energy which, as Einstein stated, is not a separate phenomenon. In his well known equation, E = mc2, matter and energy become unified and are “duel expressions of the same universal substance…[which is] a primal energy or vibration of which we are all composed” [11]. This defines a revolutionary approach that seeks to understand the functioning of human beings and the universe from the view of matter as energy as vibration. This matter/vibration/energy expresses itself in many different patterns of shapes, forms, forces, states, behaviors, properties, and relationships (such as in light, mass, heat, electric, magnetic, electromagnetic, kinetic and potential etc.). It that way, matter/energy/vibration informs its surroundings, and thus can also be considered information. Again, distinctions made between them, or choice of words, come from a more relative need that depends on what particular phenomenon one is trying describe or explain. The emanating presence is inseparably, one.

 Part IV


The atoms or elementary particles themselves are not real; they form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things or facts.
– Werner Heisenberg, German theoretical physicist 

Yet, even these “fundamental” or “elementary” atomic particles are not absolute, if there is such a thing. Everything appears be made of vibration, but at the same time, there is no “thing” being vibrated. The world of atoms is only one “level” of form being observed. In December 2012, a major paper from the prestigious magazine, Science, reveals that there are now more than 500 acknowledged phases of matter [15]. Nested within the atomic particles, we enter the realm of the subatomic or the quantum (photons, leptons, muons, quarks, Higgs Boson etc.), which births a whole new world of bizarre properties, behaviors, and phenomenon that classical Newtonian physics cannot account for, such as wave-particle duality and quantum entanglement. Consciousness, the mind, the brain, time, space, identity, technology, and interconnection are all explored under a new light. Quantum physics brings us “face-to-face with some of the most baffling mysteries ever confronted, and most profoundly change our worldview” [12].

The relentless seeking to discover and define the fundamental particles or absolutes of the universe is like moving along an infinite hall of mirrors trying to find the end, for there is no solid “object,” or “thing” to arrive at. We find diverse pattern, form, and force, but no final foundation. The good news and the bad news is that the rabbit hole journeys very deep, trailing off into paradox and mystery. One discovery yeilds another wonder, and that is the beauty of the whole situation.


At one level something seems fixed in a pattern, and if you look a little deeper, you find motion. Keep looking into motion and you will find form. We are always dancing between form and impermanence.
-Michael Stone, psychotherapist, yoga teacher


It is important not to get lost in the scrupulous mechanics, which is essentially after all, like language, only a human system of complex interpretation. It is necessary to take a refreshing step back and look at the larger picture.

For our purposes of inquiry here on sound and vibration, they ultimately do not have a clear definition or boarder to their scope. For even pharmaceutical drugs could be viewed as vibrational medicine – “altering the vibration of molecular structures through chemical informants that instructs cellular behavior” [16]. To subscribe sound healing/therapy and vibrational medicine to having a beginning and end, what it can contain, what it cannot, what can do, what it cannot do, would make it a finite model. And because we are working with a medium and perspective that characterizes the very fabric of the universe, it would be presumptuous to do so.

A driving point to be impressed is that sound and vibration are anything but a separate phenomena from ourselves. Like turning the prism through which one gazes, all is relative to your veiwpoint or choice between “worlds within worlds.” The human body can be viewed and worked with as an intricate mechanism of organs, chemicals, enzymes, and membrane receptors, a mixture of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen (“star-stuff,” as Astrophysicists Carl Sagan call us), a vast interaction of molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles, and or a symphony of vibration, sound, light, and energy. Like a holographic, mathematical fractal pattern, all “levels” are “real” (and equally important) and exist together in an interconnected spectrum within itself – a whole in every part. And, if you change or influence one part, it changes the whole.

Within the totality of our bodies, we, as human species, are fully alive and exist from the densest aspects to finest.

With that said, the following concepts provide the historical and presently accepted basis for sound healing/therapy and vibrational medicine which were put together by William L. Meyer, M.Engr., Georgia Neff, Ph.D., and Lauren Garfield-O’Brien R.N [9]:

Vibration is a primary force in the Universe and the basis of sound therapy.

-Principle of Vibration – everything is in vibration or constant motion – John Keely’s Laws (scientist and inventor)

-Resonance – every substance on earth and every bone, muscle, organ and microbe in the body has its own resonant frequency.

-The composite of the resonant frequencies in the body make up a signature vibration.

-When the body frequencies are in harmony, the body is healthy; when body frequencies are out of harmony, (dissonant and discordant/natural ratios or harmonies have been shifted into disharmonies/ratios that do not support biochemical and/or structural integrity), dis-ease results. Illness is seen as a result of this disharmony or lack of integrity.

-Finding and balancing frequencies in the body reestablishes the rhythm or flow of energy in the body so that its natural processes can heal the body.

-Sounds produced by the voice, instruments or electro-mechanical devices can be used to balance frequencies in the body.


Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson, essayist, lecturer, poet 





Sources Referenced:

[1] http://www.princeton.edu/~pear/pdfs/2004-sensors-filters-source-reality.pdf

[2] https://cymascope.com/cyma_research/soundhealing.html

[3] http://bioadaptech.com/concepts1.pdf

[4] http://tomkenyon.com/theoretical-constructs-of-abr-technology

[5] http://sciencenotes.ucsc.edu/0501/sound/index.html

[6] http://thepowerofsound.net/reid/ , http://www.joshualeeds.com

[7] Maman, F. (1997). The role of music in the twenty-first century. Morpol, Poland: Tama-Do Press.

[8] http://www.nytimes.com/1988/02/09/science/sound-is-shaped-into-a-dazzling-tool-with-many-uses.html?src=pm&pagewanted=1

[9] http://www.biosonics.com/Research-Papers.html

[10] http://www.sciencedaily.com- /releases/2008/02/080217143832.htm

[11] Gerber, R. (2001). Vibrational medicine. (3rd ed.). Rochester, Vermont: Bear & Company.

[12] Carter, C. (2010). Science and the near-death experience: How consciousness survives death. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions.

[13] http://pondscienceinstitute.on-rev.com/svpwiki/tiki-index.php?page=matter

[14] http://www.fusfoundation.org/the-foundation/news-media/1327-news-flash-brain-tumor-success

[15] http://phys.org/news/2012-12-phases-phase.html

[16] Dale, C. (2009). The subtle body: An encyclopedia of your energetic anatomy. Boulder, Colorado: Sounds True.


Note: The practice of sound healing/therapy and vibrational medicine is an unregulated therapy. The information contained on this page is not to be considered medical advice, diagnostic or prescriptive. Void where prohibited.