Resonance Frequency, Rhythm,
As has been said before (and it's about to be said again) the
whole of our reality (seen either as a gigantic illusion or a real entity outside of us...
is there a difference?) is a gigantic web of vibrations. Not only are all
"parts" of this enormous symphony vibrating, the "parts" themselves
are other forms of vibration. The void vibrating in different rhythms and frequencies.
some harmonic, some contradictory, making up an infinite tapestry of combinations and
possibilities. Look at it from one end and you see infinite complexity, hopelessly beyond
any attempt at understanding. That is Chaos, the primordial maelstrom from which you came
and to which you will return... the Dust. But how does it look... from the other
Frequency, defined at its most basic, means "how often
does something happen". In the case of oscillations or vibrations: "how often
does the event or cycle repeat?" (usually measured per second, but that is not
crucial to the basic definition). Rhythm, again stripped to its most basic, means
"when does an event occur and when it doesn't". Rhythm is not "beat"
by the way! A "beat" as understood in musical terms is the pulse of a piece of
music, the basic speed. Defined in this simple way, it is the basic
"frequency" that underlies the music. A "beat" as understood among pop
musicians and listeners is a particular percussive rhythm repeated over and over at a
particular speed. Yes, in this case it is a rhythm, but only a particular category of
rhythm! "Rhythm" doesn't have to repeat, it doesn't have to be percussive, and
it doesn't even have to maintain a certain speed! It only means: "when an event
occurs and when it doesn't... and for how long".
Let's make sure all these words (and some others) are
absolutely clear and that we are using the same definitions for them. If you feel you have
a strong grasp on all these terms feel free to skip the following few paragraphs.
A vibration is a "to and fro"
movement, a motion that goes somewhere and comes back to the same spot it started from,
over and over. It it usually applied to the motion of a solid object or substance. As we
mentioned before, the distinction between "solid" and "not-solid" is
not solid at all when you get down to the raw basic materials of creation...
An oscillation is the same as a vibration,
in other words, a movement back and forth, away and back to the same spot.
A cycle is a single repetition in a
vibration or oscillation.
Frequency is the amount of times a vibration
occurs within a specific amount of time.
The period is the time occupied in one
complete movement of the vibration. For example, if a vibration has a frequency of 2 per
second, the period would be .5 seconds.
A wave is the curve of a vibration plotted
against time. If you see time as a line and amplitude as a line perpendicular to it, then
a frequency is seen as a series of repeating curves stretching forward over the line of
Waveform is the shape of the wave as seen on
the graph. The most basic shape is called a "sine wave" - which looks like a
perfectly smooth curve repeating over and over. But that is only the most
"ideal" waveform. Most waveforms that we actually encounter in nature (as in
sound) are not this ideal and are actually much more complex.
Sound is the propagation of waves through a
medium (a relatively "static" soup of molecules, atoms, etc which are set into
motion and thus "carry" the waves). In our human case, we perceive sound usually
as it is carried through the "air".
Just from these few simple definitions, we can begin to see
that what on the one hand can seem like undending chaos and complexity can, on the other
hand, be seen as a collection of very simple "motifs" or patterns. These simple
motifs, used as a composer or improviser would use them, become an infinite tapestry of
variation, of contrasts, of tension and resolution... for the moment we will refrain from
metaphysical speculations about who is improvising or what is being composed!
The most simple "motif" then is hardly even a motif
at all: it is the simple sine wave. A smooth curve that moves away from its center and
back, always at the same speed and always with the same intensity. When you hear a sine
wave you hear an intense and continuous buzzing, usually annoying to most human ears. if
it's not loud or too dominant, it can be soothing. But either way, it doesn't feel
"natural"! How can the most ideal, basic sound in nature not feel
In the same way that the old cliche is true: "There are
no straight lines in nature" it can be said that there are no pure sine waves in
nature. All sounds have a blur of particular characteristic detail, shape, timbre,
frequency, volume... all combine to give uniqueness to what could seem a sea of pure
tones. How this uniqueness derives from such simple elements is a perfect study in
applying a few simple ideas to create something that couldn't possibly be predicted from
its principle fundaments.
The start of this is in the overtones. When you hear a
"note" (an internally harmonic sound) what you actually hear is a collection of
tones, fading upwards into infinity. You hear a basic low tone (which can be very high to
your ears, but is still relatively low in comparison to its higher components) and you
hear a series of "overtones", tones overlaid on the basic tone in a very
straightforward fashion. Pythagoras figured this all out a long time ago. If the first
tone has a frequency of x, the first overtone has a frequency of 2x, the second a
frequency of 3x and so on upwards into infinity.
This basic relationship applies to all sounds. The overtones
are always in these simple mathematical relationships to their fundamental tone. Always
whole number digits, always all of them, etc. But what makes sounds seem different then?
Two basic characteristics: their shape in time and the
relative "strength" (amplitude) of each overtone. A third characteristic is the
shape of the overtones themselves, independent of each other (this combines the first
two). These simple and very basic parameters are what lies under all kinds of sounds that
But in all this we are talking only of "frequency"
or "pulse" ("tempo" in musical terms, how fast the music flows, how
fast the vibration repeats). What if we add a whole other element to this: rhythm?
We can loosely define rhythm as the occurrence of events in
time and their relationship to each other. A repeating rhythm or "beat" has a
particular pattern that repeats over and over. This "beat" has a pulse or
tempo, how fast do its component elements move in relation to each other and how fast the
whole beat repeats.
What we, as humans that we are, perceive as
"rhythm" is within a certain range of "speed". If the speed becomes
too fast it becomes simply a "tone" (a high frequency) or "noise". If
the speed becomes too slow, our attention wanders and we don't realize that a
"beat" is occurring! (As in... "didn't this happen before? nah!") But
we do have access to a range of speed where we do perceive beats and rhythm. Within this
range we can both hear rhythms and produce them (traditionally with drums). The secret of
rhythmic invocation can then be stated as follows: Through using this limited
range of perception (and action) and understanding the principle of resonance, we can gain
access to higher and lower realms of vibration. In other words: We can knock at the
door of the gods.
It is understood in many living shamanic traditions that
certain rhythmic patterns invoke different gods or higher beings. The relationship between
the particular beats or patterns and the gods is not specified but felt. This
"feeling" is the perception of resonance ocurring between distinctly different
levels of the vibrational spectrum... "reality" for short. These beats function
as a key that unlocks a particular lock in the higher realms. The lock is there and always
available, but the key needs to be found and activated through action. Other elements of
course enter into this equation, such as "ability", "intensity",
"energy", etc. but the basis is the same: the meeting between different worlds
through an incorporal key implicit in the very fabric of the Universe.
Elsewhere we talk about different maps to view
"reality" and all its realms and levels. All these maps have corresponding
patterns or beats that can be discovered or created by carefully studying each map in
question. The maps suggest relationships between spaces, points of entry and exit,
balances, tensions, contrasts, spiralling octaves, geometrical shapes, etc. All of these
emerge from, and thus can be translated back, into the most basic language: rhythm,
pattern and vibration (three different ways of perceiving the same phenomenon). Once
translated, the soundscapes that are produced can serve as a foundation and key for the
active use and exploration of these maps. (Don't ever forget that ultimately you create
your own reality... even this text you are reading was made by you. Who else could do it?)
Rhythmic Visualization 1: The Circle
- Set your metronome to 60bpm. Set your timer to 5 minutes.
- Sit down in a quiet space.
- Start the metronome and the timer. Close your eyes.
- Imagine a circle of light pulsing around you, at the height of
your head. See it as alive, energy moving through it in a clockwise direction.
- Now, imagine a ball of light traveling through the circle,
following the same clockwise direction.
- Listen to the beat of the metronome and imagine that when the
beat falls the ball of light is right in front of your face. See it travel around the
circle until the next beat comes along and it is back right in front of your face (see it
with your eyes closed).
- Concentrate completely on this movement and this rhythm.
- When the timer sounds, stop the metronome and take a few deep
Resonance Frequency, Rhythm, Pattern
The relation between different frequencies and different maps of the
higher planes, rhythm and pattern in different traditions, The Iching, the Tarot