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SACRED SOUND

           It seems just natural that, after a twenty-five year career as a professional musician, Dennis Gaumond would bring together his love of music, his knowledge of the workings of Energy and his awareness of the healing potential of sound. He is involved in ‘sound therapy’ in several different ways.

Chantmaster - He is the founder of the Guelph Chant Club and has been leading chant groups and kirtans for many years, in many different settings.
Teacher of Overtone Singing – Dennis learned the art of overtone singing in the Australian rainforest from his friend and mentor, Jayavinda. He has developed an easy method of teaching this skill to others.
Sound Healing Facilitator – Dennis incorporates his knowledge of chant, toning, overtoning, hand-drumming, his musicianship and various other skills into sound healing workshops. Some of these events are daylong, week-end long or week long. They usually are done in partnership with Reiki Master, Barbara McKell, who performs with the singing crystal bowls. (see www.soulconnection.ca)
Bandleader – Dennis is the founder and musical director of ‘Bhadra Collective’, a group of professional musicians with common spiritual bonds. Bhadra Collective performs a unique brand of music that combines world-beat textures and rhythms with chants from a variety of cultural traditions. (more info about Bhadra Collective below)


THE IMPORTANCE OF SOUND


           The ancient Tantra, the Qabala, and other mystical schools of thought place a great deal of importance on the power of sound. According to Tantra, all objects including non-material objects, have their own innate sound, some of which are audible and some of which are beyond human sensory capacity. In other words, all things in the universe are manifestations of energy, each with their own vibratory frequency. The manifestation of matter is considered to be the third step in the process of creation, preceded by sound.

           The following quote can be found in the Hindu Vedas, “In the beginning was Brahman with whom was the Word. And the Word is Brahman.” This passage is clearly referring to the idea that sound, here represented by ‘Word’ or ‘vaikhari’(Sanskrit), is a major component of creation. How similar this quote is to the opening lines of the Gospel of John, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God.” There are several allusions in the Bible to the power of sound, including its use in razing the walls of Jericho

           According to the ancient Egyptians, Thoth created the universe with the power of his voice. In ancient Greece, as far back as 600 BC, Pyhtagoras taught of the power of sound and its ability to affect us. The Hopi Indians tell of the Spider Woman who creates the world by singing the Song of Creation. The Maya, the Aztec and many other indigenous cultures have similar creation stories. The Australian Aborigines have their ‘songlines’. Clearly, the idea that sound is strongly linked to the creative process is widespread among cultures throughout history.

           Science has also shown the relationship between sound and matter. Back in the 1800’s a man named Ernst Chladni, and more recently a man named Hans Jenny performed experiments with sand on a thin sheet of metal. When the vibration of sound was applied to the sheet, the grains of sand arranged themselves into a pattern. The same note always produces the same pattern - the higher the note, the more complex the pattern. Jenny’s branch of science, known as Cymatics, has demonstrated the relationship between form and vibration in many ways. If one takes a box filled with water in which dust particles are floating in suspension, and then introduces a vibration throughout the box, the particles will collect into symmetrical patterns with a crystalline effect. Recent experiments have shown that when sound is introduced to quantities of water, oil, dust or other things, it produces shapes and patterns that are often found in nature. In other words, vibration introduces order to a random collection of particles.

           In recent times, many researchers, scientists and doctors have investigated the healing potential of sound. Pioneers such as Peter Guy Manners, Alfred Tomatis, Robert Monroe, Laurel Elizabeth Keyes, Robert Beck, Tom Kenyon, Jeffrey Thompson and many others have demonstrated different ways that sound can benefit human health. Musicians like Robert Gas, Don Campbell and Jonathan Goldman, the founder of the Sound Healers Association, have done great work in bringing this information to the public.


CHANTS AND MANTRAS


           Modern research into the healing potential of sound has led to a variety of methodologies using devices ranging from tuning forks to complex computer programs. Fortunately, one of the very best devices for sound healing is easily available to all of us – the human voice. It has been used in many cultures throughout history, often in the form of chants and mantras. What is a mantra? The use of mantras recognizes that each sound, each syllable has a natural inherent power, a vibratory quality that relates to aspects of the human condition. Ancient languages such as Hebrew and Sanskrit were built upon this realization, so that the vibrational ‘meaning’ of certain sounds contributed to the meaning of words. A mantra is a word or phrase with inherent meaning and affective power, especially if it is repeated.

           Chants are mantras and devotional affirmations that have been put to music. The repetition, the beauty of the melody, the rhythm – they all help bring the participant into a state of trance and help the mantras to reverberate deep in the recesses of the mind long afterwards. When a group is chanting in unison, with unified intent, the transformative power of the vibration amplifies in an exponential way. (2 chanters = 4 times the power, 6 chanters = 9 times the power, etc.) Accompanied by strong clear intentions, this practice has great potential to assist in our quest for enlightenment, our healing. The act of chanting automatically regulates the breath, something that is key to many forms of meditation. Chanting is a powerful form of meditation that can help one invoke a deity, or enter an enhanced state of consciousness. The repetition stills the everyday mind, blissfully freeing the creativity of the unconscious mind and opening the vision of the inner eye. All forms of sound therapy provide us the opportunity to entrain to the rising vibrations of the planet in these incredible times. Chanting affects our subtle, spiritual bodies, the functioning of our chakra system and the health of our physical bodies.

           Studies have shown that chanting mantras can lead to many physical benefits, such as: more coherent and harmonic brain patterns; better communication between left and right hemispheres of the brain; boosted immune systems; increased lymphatic circulation; lowered heart rate and blood pressure; increased production of melatonin, interlukin-1, and other hormones and endorphins; and much more. It has been shown to benefit the treatment of many disorders such as eating disorders, schizophrenia, hyperactivity, arthritis, alzheimer’s disease and others.

           There are chants from different spiritual traditions and cultures around the globe, including Hebrew, various African tribes, Native American traditions, Australian Aboriginal, Greco/Roman/Christian, Arabic/Islamic/Sufi, and chants from the far East. Some well-known chants are; ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’, Sanskrit/Tibetan; ‘the Mahamantra - Hare Krishna, Hare Rama’, Sanskrit/Hindu; ‘Gloria, In Excelsis Deio’, Latin/Christian; ‘Kyrie Eleison ‘, Greek/Christian; ‘Gatay, Gatay’, Sanskrit/Bhuddist. There are many excellent teachers and musicians who have done much to bring chanting to the west; Jonathan Goldman, Robert Gass, Krishna Das, Jai Uttal, Wah, Deva Premal and many more.

           The language of Sanskrit is said to be a ‘science of sound’, many thousands of years old. Amongst all the various chants, those that came from the Tantric/Sanskrit traditions are probably the most systematized, the most sophisticated, the most written about. According to these schools of thought, there are male, female and neutral mantras; the males usually end with ‘hum’, the females with ‘svaha’ and the neutral with ‘namaha’. Root or seed mantras representing different aspects of divinity are called ‘bijas’. Here are some bijas and their meanings; - krim; (called the Kali Bija) = power over creation and dissolution, recited for conquest of limitations. - srim; = feminine energy of abundance, recited to acquire earthly joys and gains. - klim; = procreative desire, recited for joy, bliss and pleasure. The names of the many Hindu deities are themselves mantras, so that the vibrational quality of the name correlates to the aspects of humanity/divinity embodied by the deity.

           The act of chanting often leaves one feeling elated, connected and free. It sends us flying. Chanting is truly a beautiful and joyful way for us to facilitate our healing process.


TONING AND OVERTONE SINGING


           Toning is vocalizing a pure sound and requires no singing ability whatsoever. Creating sound in this way has a powerful healing effect on all levels. The vibrations massage the vocal chords, the face plate and skull, and course throughout the whole body, leaving it humming with vitality. The mind is also refreshed and clarified by being cleared of its usual distractions. Toning, combined with clearly focussed intent, is a very powerful meditative tool. It is excellent for those who feel they 'can't sing', and encourages confidence in self-expression in those with low self-esteem. An invigorating sound bath can be given by a group to an individual, in which they are bathed for a prolonged period in the vibration of a group toning. This often gives rise to powerful feelings of support and connection.

           Overtone Singing, or overtoning, is an ancient art that has received much attention in the past few decades. This is largely due to the efforts of the Tibetan monks from the Drepung-Loseling Monastery who have been touring the world demonstrating their ‘Deep Voice’ style of overtone singing. In this practice, a single voice can simultaneously produce more than one note, creating a ‘one voice chord’. Aside from the Tibetan, there are other styles of overtoning. From Mongolia and Tuva comes a different technique called ‘Hoomi”, which uses less of a deep, throaty sound. In this technique one sounds a note with the normal voice, which is called the fundamental note. At the same time, high-pitched notes called ‘overtones’ or ‘harmonics’ can be heard dancing above the fundamental note in a flutelike way.

           With overtoning, the beneficial effects of toning are maximized. The vibratory quality of the sound is enhanced and amplified by this technique. The research of Dr. Alfred Tomatis suggests that higher pitched sound is more effective at treating disease and disorder. With overtone singing, the vibration of the fundamental note is greatly augmented by the power of the higher-pitched harmonics.

(Private instruction/coaching in overtone singing is available from Dennis Gaumond – contact 519 763-0004 or dgomo@golden.net)