Archeo-Ethnomusicology: The Soundtrack of the Soul, a Journey into Altered States


We’ve all felt transported at one time or another by a song. Powerful melodies and rhythms… and your toe starts tapping, your body starts swaying… and your mind drifts to another time and place. Music has the power to alter emotions and alter states of consciousness. Ethnomusicology.

Throughout history, for over a millennia, different cultures have harnessed this power… with what seems like advanced understandings of sound and acoustic technology.

Ethno = people or culture.
Musicology = the study of music.

Going beyond scales and chords, Ethnomusicology goes into how music actually shapes: beliefs, rituals, and even the social structures of societies.

So let’s add… Archeo.

Archeo from Archeology, meaning Ancient.

Archeo-Ethnomusicology… and ASC’s

Going all they way back to the megalithic stone-builders times… music, vocal toning and sounds were used for inducing Altered States of Consciousness in ancient times.

“It is likely that Stonehenge was a venue for ritual musical activity in prehistory.” Rupert Till, Professor University of Huddersfield

Stonehenge, the well known megalithic prehistoric monument in the UK exhibits some interesting phenomena…

“If a gale of wind is blowing the strange musical hum emitted by Stonehenge can never be forgotten”, Thomas Hardy, he goes on to say “dramatic low frequency resonance effects are audible at Stonehenge”

The inner surfaces of the standing stones are concave… while the outer surfaces lack this curvature. Suggesting the possibility of intentional shaping, perhaps for acoustic reasons…

This inward curvature of the stones causes sound waves to bounce back and forth within the structure, creating a resonance frequency of around 10Hz… this frequency is in the range of what’s called ‘infra-sound’ i.e inaudible… but ‘felt’ or experienced .

Chambers of Secrets and the Inaudible Influence

Some of the chambers inside burial-mounds and other megalithic structures look like they were built to amplify standing waves… that is to say, they do a perfect job of doing just this.

When a wave travels within these confined space and encounters a boundary… it reflects. This reflected wave then interferes with the original wave, creating a Standing Wave, either amplifying or canceling out the waveform.

The way these burial-mounds and other megalithic structures are built, with their size, shape and arrangement of stones, creates the perfect conditions for these standing waves to be amplified, meaning the sound would be much louder and more pronounced.

In the example of Stonehenge, the 10hz frequency of Infra sound (sound waves with frequencies below the human range of hearing) would be amplified. This inaudible influence on brainwave-frequencies would contribute to a sense of awe and mystery at this ancient sites.

Brainwaves at a frequency of 10Hz are produced during meditation, relaxation, and are associated with the Alpha Wave pattern. This raises the intriguing possibility that Stonehenge’s design might have been intended to induce these altered states of consciousness.

Certain infra sound frequencies are known to have a physical and psychological impact on humans… similar to many sound healing practices and modalities used today.

The Sonic Power of Megaliths

Imagine standing within a circle of megalithic stones, many voices echoing and resonating with an ‘otherworldly’ power… The full moon in the sky and ritual being carried out…

Being exposed to these resonant frequencies, as well as the whole ritualistic experience (all aimed at one person, or group), would most likely have put participants into very deep trance-like states…

Creating an ‘otherworldly’ sense of awe, elevating the ritual experience and enhancing the sense of connection to the divine (or the spirit realm) for insight… creating states of heightened creativity and facilitating healing.

Could these ancient structures have been designed to induce specific mental states and enhance ritualistic experiences? Or were they simply elaborate calendars as some say…?

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