“Insights at the Edge”: Alex Theory Interview
“Full Spectrum Sound Healing” with Alex Theory”
Tami Simon: You’re listening to Insights at the Edge. Today I speak with Alex Theory. Alex is a talented musician, a young person that I would call a hipster, someone who draws upon his training in shamanic practice, psychology, and music production in order to develop new techniques and approaches in music and sound therapy. Through Sounds True, Alex has released a new series called Full Spectrum Sound Healing; it’s a four-CD exploration of the healing frequencies and sonic characteristics of the elements light, earth, air, and water.
Alex and I spoke about the role of sound technology in the twenty-first century. We also talked about the important work of Alfred Tomatis, and the sound frequency of the earth itself, what’s called the Schumann Resonance.
Here’s my conversation with Alex Theory.
Alex, I think of you as this San Francisco hipster, young guy. When you came and you visited Sounds True, you had on tights that had snakes crawling up your legs (or something like that), with this incredible, huge, mission-commitment to sound and healing. To begin with, I’d just like to know more about how you became so dedicated to the world of sound and healing.
Alex Theory: Oh, yeah. Wow. Well, let’s see. I’ve been interested in sound ever since I was about two years old, and I remember my parents playing some kind of funky, Russian polka album, and I just remember dancing and just feeling so joyous at the frequencies that this interesting machine was emanating.
You know, my brother was much older than me, and a musician in Chicago at the time, and once again, during my early childhood, I was surrounded by blues and music. And so sound, in and of itself, has always been solace for me, a place where I could just go and get immersed, and retreat from the world, and just really feel energized and activated. You know, it just kind of was a natural evolution, Tami.
As I went to college and began to study psychology, contrary to what I wanted to do—my parents were really set on me doing something more useful in the world, and so I decided to study psychology—nevertheless, my love for music was ever prevalent. As I began to study psychology, I snuck in a bunch of music classes. To make a very long story short, the worlds began to overlap, because I learned about the field of music therapy, and about the amazing uses of sound—you know, sound to alleviate pain, and various environments. Once I started to discover that, it was kind of like I’d merged my two favorite things, which were wellness and self-transformation, and sound.
TS: Now, I know you’ve studied about how different ancient cultures used sound and healing. I wonder if you could just summarize for me a couple of the highlights of that study. What has really turned you on when you looked at cultures, such as the cultures of Egypt and India and Greece? In those cultures, how was sound used for healing?
AT: That’s a great question. You know, I perceive sound as a fundamental element. What I mean by that is throughout the universe, there’s some basic building blocks from which other things are built. Life is one of those things, and sound, as well, is considered, in many ancient traditions, a primordial element. In many of the creation myths from the Vedic tradition, from the Hopi traditions, and even from the Christian tradition, sound is a creational force in the universe.
To me, on a very pragmatic level, sound literally is waves floating through air, and sound needs a medium through which to travel. Therefore, I use the description of sound flowing through air, because that’s what’s happening. The way that the ancients utilized sound, in particular in Egypt, was to really recognize the interconnection between particles floating through air and the potential for actually vibrating the molecules inside the body.
It was amazing for me to actually go to Egypt and stand inside a few of the ancient temples, which were designed specifically with acoustics in mind. The feeling that I got while standing inside, for example, the Great Pyramid and the King’s Chamber was a feeling unlike any other feeling that I had experienced. It was a total-body immersion, and from the tiniest sound, it was a full-body vibration that I was experiencing. The best terminology that I could come up with for that experience was “audio honey,” because it kind of felt like swimming in a dense, dense field of particles.
There were many different ways the ancients used sound. One of those ways was to basically harmonize the hemispheres of the brain through mantra and toning. Obviously, that’s a very ancient Tibetan tradition. The way that I like to think of sound, as I’ve mentioned, is as a primordial element. I’d love to explore that further with you in this conversation, as to how to use the sound creatively to create balance and transformation in one’s life.
TS: So you mean how I, as an individual, how I can start aahing and oohing and things like that?
AT: Yeah, at the very basic level. You know, the one thing that I love about sound is that it’s available to everybody, in contrast to pharmaceuticals, for which you have to go to a doctor, and you have to get prescriptions. I like to think of this field as “vibroceuticals,” which is free to everybody, and it’s vibrational frequency medicine that you can really implement wherever you are, whether you’re in the car, or whether you’re at home, or you’re with the kids, or you’re by yourself—wherever you are, it’s readily available to you.
TS: OK, now I want to go back for a moment. So you took a trip to Egypt, and you went inside one of the pyramids and had this experience of “sound honey.” What were you doing? What did you do? Did you start making sounds? Did you play an instrument?
AT: Yeah, great question. Well, you know, I actually led an expedition to Egypt a few years back, with about fifteen people, most of whom were musicians, audio researchers. In this particular experience, which to me was really the culmination of this journey, the entire group went inside the Great Pyramid. I had this intuition to just spend a little bit of time by myself inside the King’s Chamber, and so as the rest of the group went down below, into the bottom of the pyramid, I went up into the King’s Chamber by myself.
In order to enter the King’s Chamber, you need to literally get on all fours and crawl inside the King’s Chamber, and it’s pitch-black. So I crawled in there, and my first impression was just the intensity of my own breath, because I was trying to be very quiet, but just me shuffling and me breathing was literally filling the entire space. I mean it was almost overwhelming. As I gradually settled down over the course of just a few minutes, and I kind of centered myself and closed my eyes and began to breathe deeply, I began to hear my heartbeat—and not only hear it inside my chest, but literally the acoustics of the room were so conducive to sound that I began to feel the entire space fill with my heart beating. That was pretty amazing to me.
As I sat for a few more moments and began to get centered, I began to tone. Toning is just the creation of kind of elongated vowel sounds. I did a couple of varieties of “Om” and some other frequencies, and every sound that I made, if I made a sound for just one or two seconds, it would literally resonate for up to two minutes. Once again, it was this amazing kind of infinite generation machine of sound that was just so amazing to play with and to synergize with.
TS: Sometimes I wonder: If we knew what the ancients knew about sound and healing, what would our health world look like? What would the world of medicine look like in the West? I’m curious if you have some thoughts about that.
AT: You know, Western medicine is amazing at dealing with acute issues and acute pathologies—if you knock your knee and you scratch your knee, you can go to the doctor and he’ll give you a Band-Aid—but on a deeper level, Western medicine is still in its pre-adolescent phases of awareness of how our environment and the frequency in our environment actually affect our physiology and our consciousness.
One of the greatest innovators, in my opinion, in the field of sound is Dr. Alfred Tomatis, who is a French ear, nose, and throat doctor. What he discovered is the fact that sound waves actually nourish brain development, that literally sound is not just something that we use for pleasure, but sound waves, much like sunlight, actually nourish plants. You know that plants convert sunlight into sugar and into energy. Sound waves actually nourish the brain and create energy for the brain to perform many of its cognitive tasks. Just this revelation alone . . .
TS: Now, now, hold on. Let me ask a question about that. Specific types of sound waves nourish the brain? I mean, I could imagine some heavy metal sound-waves actually hurting my brain.
AT: (Laughs) Yeah, great clarification. For sure, there are different frequencies that are conducive to nourishment of the brain, and other frequencies that actually have the opposite effect. That’s what the entire field of psychoacoustics is devoted to, which is really clarifying and understanding which frequencies are nourishing the brain and which frequencies are actually depleting the brain. And it’s not a dark science. It’s actually very, very intuitive.
Usually, the most nourishing frequencies to the brain—believe it or not—are frequencies which are found in nature: sounds of the ocean, the sound of a running stream, the sound of wind rushing through the leaves of trees. The reason that these sounds are deeply nourishing, other than the fact that they’re coming from nature, you know, they’re relaxing, is the fact that they have full-spectrum frequency. In audio terminology, many different types of sound that we hear have limited bandwidth, and they have a very specific, narrow window of frequency which they emanate. The sound of the ocean, for example: if you were to look at it through a computer analysis program, you would actually see a complete spectrum, from low to high, of all of the frequencies in a very evenly distributed pattern. That’s what they’re learning, is that some of those frequencies that have that full-spectrum characteristic are deeply, deeply nourishing to the human system.
TS: And what you’re proposing is that our medical system would prescribe some of these frequencies, like, for example, for what kinds of problems?
AT: For everything ranging from insomnia, which I think would be— God! There’s so many millions of people out there that are suffering from insomnia, and of course, the number one prescription is some kind of pharmaceutical, like Ambien or something like that.
Insomnia, based on my research, has a lot to do with environmental factors, obviously which manifest in “stress,” but also immediate environmental factors such as different types of ambient sounds in the environment that actually prevent a person from going into a deep state of relaxation. A lot of the clients that I’ve worked with have actually been invited to turn off their refrigerators, turn off their air-conditioning units, turn off various types of mechanical devices in their environments. Just in doing that alone, and creating a very, very silent and tranquil environment, they’ve been able to induce sleep.
To take that one step further, yeah, absolutely the use of some kind of nature sound—preferably, if you’re by the ocean, open your window and listen to the sound of the ocean, which, while I’m in San Francisco, I love doing, and I have the luxury of doing, because the beach is right across the street. But absolutely, I think there’s many different ways that sounds, and vibration in general, can be integrated with Western medicine.
There’s a whole other area of research within sound that I find quite fascinating, and it’s the science of binaural beats, or binaural frequencies. Binaural beats are quite simply just playing two slightly offset tones in the left ear and in the right ear. What that does is that creates a third, phantom tone in the center of the brain. What they’ve discovered is that, actually, the use of binaural frequencies can actually entrain the brain waves of humans. In deep states of sleep, humans are usually in a delta brain-wave state. In meditative states, humans are usually in a theta state. What they’ve discovered is that, by putting on a pair of headphones and playing some binaural beats, after a period of about five to twenty minutes, depending on the intensity, the actual brain waves of the humans become entrained to the rhythm of the binaural beats. So in a setting where somebody’s coming to the doctor and they’re saying, “Gosh, doctor, I’m having trouble sleeping,” just five minutes of a binaural-beat frequency might alleviate that problem.
In addition to insomnia, there’s a whole host of things that I feel sound nutrients and vibroceuticals could be useful for. In cases where people are feeling depressed or are experiencing a lack of energy, there are frequencies that can give them a boost. In fact, one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Tomatis was, “There are some frequencies in sound that are just as good as two cups of coffee.” He really believed that, you know.
TS: You’re going to need to send me a special MP3 with those, Alex.
AT: (Laughs) Absolutely! Yeah, and the frequencies that are stimulating—since you’re interested in that—are higher frequencies, because once again, one of my passions in this field is to demystify the science and to just make it really accessible to everyday people. It kind of makes a little bit of sense: Lower, slower frequencies are relaxing; higher, faster frequencies are stimulating. So I’ll send you a special java mix.
TS: Yeah, a special upper. Thank you.
AT: You’re welcome.
TS: Now Alex, you’ve created a series that’s called The Full-Spectrum Sound Series, and you mention this term, full-spectrum sound. You also mentioned being just across the street from the ocean, and both of those things combined make me want to talk about your release called Water in “The Full-Spectrum Sound Series.” Tell us a little bit, first of all, about what the full-spectrum sound of water is. What do you mean by that term full-spectrum? Is there part of the sound of water that is inaudible to me that I can feel, that you’ve captured on the record?
AT: No. Actually, the reason that we chose the term full-spectrum was partially due to what I’ve described earlier in this conversation, but also in part to the fact that a lot of frequencies, especially in Western society, are just not being utilized. For example, a lot of the musical tonalities that we hear in most Western music are utilizing eighth notes and a very limited set of frequencies. Even in Indian music or any kind of Eastern music, there’s a concept called microtones, which is basically notes in between the notes that we experience in Western music. Even that concept of microtones is limiting, because there’s tones in between tones, and then there’s tones in between tones in between tones.
One of the ways that I like to think about sound is, once again, it’s something that really can’t be limited by anyone or any concept. Sound frequency is an infinite spectrum of awareness. “The Full-Spectrum Sound Series” was coined based on this concept of introducing frequencies into the ears of the listener that they might not be accustomed to, that are in between the tones between the tones of what they’re traditionally used to listening to. Does that make sense?
TS: So they’re all audible sounds, but you’re emphasizing the audible sounds that are naturally within water?
AT: Absolutely. Yeah. And in particular, in each of the discs that we use, they had a specific focus. My goal and my commitment with the series was to kind of transcend this threshold of what I consider more New Agey music. That is wonderful, but yet nevertheless is kind of based more on personal interpretation. So I made a commitment with this series to base the sounds and the tracks within the series as much on science as possible.
So with this particular release, Water, I had the great honor of working with several very innovative scientists and sound researchers who actually went into the laboratory and used a technique called infrared spectroscopic analysis. Infrared spectroscopic analysis is a relatively common technique that’s used in many laboratories—chemistry laboratories—to basically discover the frequency of various molecules. We used infrared spectroscopic analysis to analyze the water molecule, which is composed of hydrogen and oxygen. Within the laboratory, what we did was basically isolate the frequency of the hydrogen molecule, isolate the frequency of the oxygen molecule, and then we translated that, via a series of mathematical equations, into sound frequencies.
Then at that point, what we did is, in order to precisely embody that harmonic relationship between hydrogen and oxygen, we actually created a custom series of instruments, which is something that most people don’t know about the series. We actually created tuning forks that were tuned to six decimal places of accuracy to these infrared spectroscopic analyses of the hydrogen and oxygen molecules. We also created chimes and longer—between two- to four-foot—tubes, kind of metal tubes, similar to wind chimes, that created some of the lower tones. So it was a whole spectrum of custom-designed instruments that, once again, just naturally, even if you had no musical talent whatsoever, but you were to come up to these chimes or these tuning forks and strike two of them together, you would get an expression of what the actual harmonics of the water molecules would sound like. I find that so fascinating.
TS: OK, so we’re about to listen to a track from Water. Can you introduce this to us? It’s named after a molecule.
AT: Yeah, yeah, it’s named after a molecule, and this track that we’re listening to is called Molecule One. With this entire series, once again, I made a real commitment to kind of demystify, take the “woo-woo” out of some of this stuff, and kind of give it a little bit more objective foundation, and really allow the listener to create their own impression from what they’re feeling, as opposed to kind of creating spontaneous titles for things that are based on my own personal interpretation. Thus, all of the tracks on all of the entire series have very objective names, and so this track that we’re going to listen to is called Molecule One. I invite the listener to just close your eyes and allow whatever impression comes to you to fully saturate through your body.
TS: So we have been listening to an excerpt from Molecule One. from Water, by Alex Theory. Alex, a couple of questions and an observation: The observation was that I started feeling quite peaceful, and everything slowed down, and it was a really enjoyable listening experience. The question is: How do you think the listening experience that you’ve created using the molecular structure of water compares to simply listening to something like a recording of ocean waves?
AT: I love the sound of the ocean, and I go out and listen to it as often as possible. The way that this recording is very unique is, imagine being able to take the sound of the ocean and listen to it through an audio microscope, so literally [you] get so deep into the sound that you’re actually able to slow down some of those frequencies and tones that are being created through the sound of waves. That’s literally what you’re experiencing when you’re listening to this CD. Just like if you were to take the sound of birds and actually pitch shift it and slow it down, you’d hear an entirely different soundscape. Same kind of concept with this particular series, is that we’re trying to allow listeners to hear sound—in particular, the sound of the elements—in ways that they’ve never heard it before, you know? In ways that, without modern technology, may not be possible.
TS: And then what about the fact that our bodies are composed so primarily of the same molecular structure, water? How do you think our bodies respond to hearing the frequency of the molecules that we are?
AT: Our bodies are a very vast percentage water, and that varies from person to person, but somewhere between 70 and 80 percent water, as is our planet, is mostly water. Just the resonance of hearing sounds that are in alignment with that ever-prevalent and ever-present molecule is deeply powerful.
That was really the concept and the foundation for this entire series: to take things that are all around us, like air and earth and light, and hear them in new ways. In many ways, I’m such a nature lover, and kind of in a subtle way, this was my attempt at allowing people to appreciate nature in yet another way, because sometimes I feel like things like water and light and air are, they’re just so ubiquitous that we take them for granted. We forget that they’re all around us, but yet if we actually take a moment to slow down and really recognize how much of our existence really, really depends on these things, then we can be so much more grateful for them.
TS: Now, you mentioned the element of earth as well, and we’re going to hear, in just a moment, an excerpt from one of the tracks on the album, Earth. Tell us a little bit how you went about creating this record.
AT: Yeah, so Earth was another really fun album for me. Earth is based on a frequency in science known as the Schumann Resonance. There was a great scientist in the 1950s named Winfried Otto Schumann, who basically discovered that the earth itself actually has a sound that it’s emitting in space. Now that we have much more sophisticated technology, such as satellites and various types of microphones that can transmit sound frequencies from space, we actually can confirm that. NASA regularly monitors the sound of the earth from space, and you can actually go onto the NASA site, if you wanted to Google “NASA” and “Schumann Resonance,” and you could actually go and see the Schumann Resonance and see information about that.
The approximate frequency of the earth is 7.8125 cycles per second, so it’s a very low frequency. In fact, it’s below the threshold of human hearing, because the threshold of human hearing is about 20 cycles per second. Nevertheless, this frequency is present, and it actually affects all life on our planet. There was a great— You know, in preparing for this album, I did a lot of research about the Schumann Resonance, and I came across a couple of interesting articles of research, during the ’60s and ’70s and ’80s, of various astronauts in space, and one of the most fascinating pieces of research that I came across was a study where they actually put astronauts into an anechoic chamber—which is a chamber that is completely, completely silent, like no sound whatsoever—for an extended period of time, I believe it was thirty days or so. They actually started to go crazy! (Laughs)
TS: Makes sense.
AT: Makes sense, you know? And it could be a variety of factors, I’m sure, but nevertheless, as part of this experiment, they were specifically testing sound. What they did, in a parallel study, was they actually kept the astronauts in a similar chamber for an exact amount of time, but they introduced the Schumann Resonance via a low-frequency oscillator, and the astronauts were actually able to maintain their composure for a much longer time. They came to the conclusion that just the absence of this very, very fundamental frequency—which we actually can’t hear, but we can feel—actually creates a profound difference in our lives.
And so the basis for this album, Earth, was based on this fundamental frequency of 7.8125. In order for it to be audible, I basically used harmonics, and I used octaves of this frequency, and tuned it to a range that humans can hear. Nevertheless, the actual harmonics are in perfect alignment—very, very precise alignment—with the frequency of the earth. In fact, all of the instruments that we used, some of which were tuning forks as well, but others were didgeridoos, which we actually had custom designed, which was quite a long process, because most didgeridoo makers don’t really craft didgeridoos to very precise frequencies. They just kind of make them according to what feels good, and so, to go in and actually take a tuner and sit there . . . It took months, actually, for this one particular developer to come up with this didgeridoo, but they finally did.
We also used a very unique drum. It was a water drum, actually, but it was kind of like a giant gourd, half of a giant gourd, floating in a giant tub of water. The way that you adjust the frequency is basically by adding or subtracting water, and that actually shifts the frequency. It’s actually a very magical story about that drum. One of my good friends, Gabriel Baez, who is the son of famous folk singer Joan Baez, came over, because I’d asked him to play some percussion on this album. I kind of explained to him that “Everything on this album is tuned to these very precise frequencies, and so we’re probably going to have to spend hours just tuning the drum to these frequencies.” And so, to make a long story short, we filled the tub with water, and he puts the drum down and starts to play, and I look at the spectrometer, and it’s exactly, exactly at the frequency that we needed for the recording! (Laughs) We were both kind of like, “Oh, my God! This is pretty interesting!”
TS: Now, you mentioned changing the shape or size or construction of the didgeridoo to get the right frequency. What did you do to the didgeridoos to make them come to the Schumann Resonance?
AT: Well, first and foremost, it’s a very long didgeridoo to get the low frequency that we needed. Once again, to make the didgeridoo audible, we had to octavize the Schumann Resonance, so we decided to raise the frequency to 125, which is sixteen times 7.8125, so it’s a perfect harmonic octave of the Schumann Resonance. Even 125 is extremely low, low frequency. So what the craftsman did was cut a giant didge, a very long didge, and then gently shave away at the inside, and shave away the inner chamber to actually shift the frequency. He actually had to cut the didgeridoo into shorter and shorter lengths to get closer and closer to that precise frequency.
TS: OK, and now you mentioned that satellites out in space are measuring the frequency of the earth, this Schumann Resonance, to see if it changes over time, and I’m curious: Is it changing? Is it changing as we add layers of pollution to the earth and things like that, or has it remained relatively constant?
AT: That’s a question that I get asked all the time. The Schumann Resonance, in and of itself, is relatively constant. Everything in nature has a fluctuation, has a breath in and a breath out, and so there is a subtle oscillation in the Schuman Resonance. It oscillates between, let’s say 7.81 and 7.83, so there’s this tiny, tiny oscillation, but contrary to what a lot of people believe, the Schumann Resonance is not changing drastically, at least not yet. I definitely don’t believe that that’s beyond the realm of possibility, that the frequency of our planet could shift dramatically, but even though I wholeheartedly believe that the pace and the consciousness of this planet is accelerating, so far it hasn’t reflected in very concise, scientific data to validate that the sound of the planet is actually shifting.
TS: OK. Let’s listen. This is a track from Alex Theory’s CD, Earth.
TS: That’s from the CD Earth, by Alex Theory. Alex, listening to it, I had the feeling of being away from the earth, swirling in space, and listening back. I don’t know if that’s just because of the conversation we had about the measurement of this Schumann Frequency by astronauts, but was that something intentional, that experience, the swirling experience?
AT: Absolutely, yeah. And even the experience of experiencing the earth from space is definitely one of the prevalent concepts during this recording, just once again, with the intention of giving the listener a slightly different perspective on something that’s so ubiquitous, that they may not notice.
TS: This frequency of the earth, the Schumann Frequency, is it the same if I’m walking on the earth [or] if I’m ten thousand miles away or a hundred thousand miles away in space?
AT: Yeah, it is. Yeah, it is. Quite amazingly, it is, because if you can just imagine a giant speaker that’s set to a very, very precise oscillation, the intensity of the frequency may change the closer you are to the object, but nevertheless the actual frequency itself is consistent.
I’ll tell you one tiny bit of knowledge that is even more fascinating to me. Actually, a deeper question is: How is the Schumann Resonance created?
AT: And when I learned this, I was just kind of like, “Wow!”
TS: That’s a good question, Alex.
AT: This is amazing. I was just kind of like, “There’s something magical happening here.” So the Schumann Resonance is created through the sound of lightning striking the surface of our planet simultaneously around the surface of our entire planet, twenty-four hours a day. That’s literally how the Schumann Resonance is created. These lightning strikes, literally like a hammer striking a bell, create what’s called a terrestrial (meaning “earth”) standing wave, which is just a sound wave that is consistent. So the lightning striking our planet, all around the surface of our planet in the various places throughout our earth, is actually creating waves, a field that’s emanating consistently out into space. How amazing is that?
TS: OK, hold on a second. Lightning strikes, not at regular intervals, but whenever lightning strikes, right? That’s, “Hey, lightning strikes!” So what you’re saying is, whenever lightning strikes, this is the sound that comes in its after-wake?
AT: Well, let’s take that one step further. So imagine this: Lightning is striking around our planet right now. In fact, in the various parts of our planet, there is lightning striking every single second of the day. It’s common understanding in science that there’s thunderstorms and different kinds of electrical phenomena happening all around our planet throughout the day on a regular basis. And just like if you were to strike a bell, the strike of the bell would be instantaneous, but yet the sound would ring out for an extended period of time. Does that make sense?
AT: So what happens is that, if lightning strikes in one part of the planet, it’s going to create a sound wave, and that wave is going to ring out, and as that wave is ringing out, another lightning strike is going to happen. Thus what happens is it creates a continuous chain of sound, and that’s called a terrestrial standing wave.
TS: So really, your record Earth could have been called The Sound of When Lightening Strikes.
AT: (Laughs) Yes, it could have. It could have, in a different incarnation. I’m actually so fascinated by the Schumann Resonance and by this phenomenon that I’m considering doing another recording specifically dedicated to that and delving a little bit deeper, because there’s so many different ways that you could explore. One of my favorite recordings that I’ve ever heard was one of my colleagues actually played the sound of lightning slowed down by about eighty times. You know what it sounded like?
AT: It sounded like John Coltrane. Seriously. It was like this kind of sporadic, but yet kind of jazzy, but just incredible cacophony of tones and frequencies. It was quite phenomenal. It was like listening to the jazz of God. (Laughs)
TS: You know, what’s interesting is that I notice in myself, when you even talk about the Schumann Resonance, and in listening to the excerpt that we heard from Earth, I feel this kind of love for that frequency. I wonder if that had some truth for you in the process of creating the record.
AT: Oh, God, yeah. Absolutely. I mean, to me, I am a deep lover of this vast and incredible jewel that we live upon, and I’m just such a fan, such an honoree of the earth, and I bow down to it almost every day and just give thanks for this incredible opportunity to be alive on this planet.
You know, sometimes we just take it for granted. We get caught up in whatever we’re doing—all our e-mails and our relationships and stuff like that—but it’s just so amazing that we’re floating in this tiny, tiny, tiny bubble in space in this giant universe. You know, I have nothing but love for this tiny bubble that we live upon, and I celebrate for all of us humans that are alive on this planet that we continue to love ourselves and to love our planet as much as possible.
TS: Many people feel, I think, this love for the earth in different ways—love of nature, love of forests—but I’m talking about even this love for this sound frequency.
AT: Yeah, yeah, well, that’s another way of connecting to a very unique phenomenon, which is, when babies are born, they’ve done a plethora of research to observe how the actual sound of the mother affects babies. What they’ve discovered is that just the sound of the mother’s heartbeat is deeply, deeply relaxing and grounding for babies. In absence of this heartbeat, babies experience anxiety and all kinds of adverse emotions. And so, metaphorically speaking, that’s how I perceive the Schumann Resonance, as literally the sound of our mother’s heartbeat. Tuning into that frequency is deeply calming, it’s deeply grounding, it’s deeply affirming and deeply centering.
TS: Wonderful. We’re going to end our conversation, Alex, by playing an excerpt from a CD that you created with Daniel Pinchbeck, who is the author of 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, and you and Daniel paired up to create an album called Emergence 2012. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
AT: Yeah, absolutely. I had a chance to work with my buddy Daniel, from New York, who is obviously an incredible expert on the Mayan civilization and the phenomenon of 2012. We got together and brainstormed how we were going to express this phenomenon in very concrete and grounded ways, which is my commitment: to create media that has a foundation in science, but that’s expressing that scientific foundation in creative ways.
We did a little historic research on the Mayan civilization, and discovered that fundamental to the Mayan history and the Mayan calendar is this concept of baktuns. A baktun is a four-hundred-year cycle of civilization. Basically, the Mayans believe that, during each of these four-hundred-year cycles, humanity goes through a different phase in its development, and each of these cycles has a unique and particular expression.
We decided to base the tracks on this particular CD on the thirteen baktun cycles. Thirteen is a very important number to the Mayans, and it’s found throughout many of their calendrical expressions and various depictions. So we have thirteen baktuns, which is a complete cycle. So from zero until twelve is the complete cycle of the baktuns, and after twelve, it resets and it goes back to zero.
Within the actual individual baktuns, we used a variety of different mathematical numbers that were very important to the Mayans, such as the number twenty and the number thirteen, and various other kinds of frequencies that we embedded into this particular recording to kind of metaphorically and symbolically tune in to that mythos.
TS: The idea of emergence, that something is emerging: What do you think in terms of sound and the role that sound will play in this emergence? What are your thoughts about that?
AT: I’m deeply, deeply excited at the possibility and the probability and the inevitability of the reemergence of the consciousness and the power of sound on our planet. I recognize that, in order to come into full awareness and consciousness as activated humans on our planet, we need to develop a deeper understanding of these primordial foundations that we are created from. Sound is one of those primordial foundations, and so as we enrich our understanding of sound, and as we activate, like the Egyptians did, the use of sound on our planet, from our daily lives, to the scientific environment, to our entertainment, and we really begin to reactivate the full power of sound, we’re going to activate an aspect of our own consciousness that’s laying dormant and that’s, quite frankly, being underutilized.
To me, this concept of emergence—I personally believe that, as human beings, we’re emerging on a daily basis. We always have the opportunity to emerge from a previous version of ourself. I perceive this coming cycle and this flag post of 2012 as just a unique opportunity for humans on our planet to consciously focus on what it means to be human, what it means to coexist with billions of people simultaneously, what it means to interact with our environment and our ecology, and in this particular case, what it means to have such a saturation of sound on our planet. I mean, everything that we create, all of the machines, are making some kind of sound, and to this date, we haven’t really put a lot of thought into what that sound is actually doing to our bodies and our physiologies and our entire planet.
I imagine a future one day when we’re so conscious of the power of sound that all of the machines that we create, including cars and refrigerators, are not only designed to perform their unique function, but they’re also designed with this understanding of sound, and designed with the intention of creating sound that is harmonious to the human physiology. So instead of General Electric, it’s going to be Golden Ratio Electricity, you know?
TS: I like it! I like it! That’s a good entrepreneurial idea there. OK, Alex. Two final questions: The first: You never said anything about the tights that you wore when you came into Sounds True that very first day.
AT: Yeah, I love those pants!
TS: I don’t think you can call those pants!
AT: OK, you can call them tights. They’re organic-cotton yoga pants, and they’re designed by my friends at Phoenix Rising. They’re just so fun! I wear them at a lot of the different festivals and speaking engagements. At least most of them—not the stuffy scientific ones, but the fun ones. They’re just amazingly comfortable, and they’re an expression of my inner fire and creativity.
TS: OK, wonderful. And then the final question: Tell us about the final track that we’re going to hear. Which baktun from Emergence 2012?
AT: This is “Baktun Five” from Emergence 2012. It’s one of my favorites, and it turns out that this is one of the favorites of Shiva Rea and a bunch of other different yoginis and yogis. To me, for some reason, when I listen to it I can almost imagine—even though we didn’t use any Tibetan throat singers or anything like that—I just have this feeling like the soul of that energy is present. That was actually kind of the intention of this baktun: to express that archetypal moment in human history when the Tibetan civilization was developing. And so this is “Baktun Five”!
TS: From Emergence 2012, a record created by Daniel Pinchbeck and Alex Theory creatively working together. Alex, thank you so much for being with us on “Insights at the Edge” and introducing us to much of the music you’ve created here with Sounds True: your “Full Spectrum Sound Series” on Water, Earth, Air, and Light, as well as the record Emergence 2012.
AT: Thank you so much, Tami, and thank you for the work that you do. It’s an honor and a privilege, and may we both continue to do what we love!
TS: Likewise. It’s always uplifting to talk with you. You are a love force.
TS: For Sounds True, this is Tami Simon. Many voices, one journey. Soundstrue.com.