SOUND AND YOUR ENVIRONMENT
While studying sound healing I had a sudden insight when reading a chapter in the book ‘The Power of Sound’ by Joshua Leeds, where I came across a paragraph that spoke about the difference between periodic rhythm and non- periodic rhythm. This created the ‘Big Bang’ for me, as described in the following section as part of my paper written on ‘rhythm and entrainment’. The introduction goes as follows (I included some minor alterations for this writing):
I would like to refer to the contrasting effects of periodic rhythmic elements and non-periodic rhythmic elements as described in the book ‘The Power of Sound’ by Joshua Leeds under ‘Common applications of entrainment’. Here, examples of periodic rhythmic elements are referred to as a stabilizing factor for our human system while non-periodic rhythm elements like traffic noise do the opposite and “jangle our nervous system, because the brain tries to categorise them.”
“It (the brain) is looking for the periodicity, or regularity, of the traffic patterns. When it cannot find this neat, organized auditory tonal processing, it acts like a hard drive that cannot find a file; it just keeps on searching. This prevents the brain from paying full attention to other sequential functions, such as concentration.”
From age 2, I spent my childhood living in a house located on a busy road in my hometown. Cars and heavy trucks would drive past day and at night, vibrating the house, and my bed with it, while rolling their heavy wheels over the road surface.
According to what my parents told me, and what became my first memory, they bought me a drum when I was about 2 years old. The reason was that I was damaging the furniture in the house with my unstoppable banging with all things I could get hold of.
I have always referred to this event as an innate ‘talent’ for drumming but, while talent may still be part of this, the combination of living next to a busy road with symptoms like restlessness, being easily distracted, having a hard time concentrating, not being good at studying and disliking reading (lack of focus) puts my musical background in a different perspective; these are all symptoms connected to the influence of and exposure to non-periodic rhythm. I may of course have been a more sensitive child and prone to ADD or dyslexia, but it all adds up.
Could the urge to start generating my own rhythm have been an innate response to the restlessness that this erratic traffic noise brought into my system? Was I looking for a personal solution to find a steady internal rhythm in life and therefore started creating my own rhythm to distract myself from the ongoing erratic traffic sound?
My parents buying that first drum is also my first memory, while it kicked off my musical adventure in life and enhanced my innate connection to rhythm. At age 4, my parents sent me to rhythmic classes. I was given a real snare drum and shortly after I received drumming classes from my uncle Theo. The immersion in rhythm led me to playing drums every day, interestingly enough, mostly standing at the roadside… (I come to this realization while writing this article.) It was as if I wanted to compete with the endless unstructured rhythm of traffic, with the intention to keep myself ‘in sync’ with my own rhythm.
Another interesting fact is that after 8 years of living on the busy road, I moved to a quiet neighborhood with my parents and brother, at age 10. Here the urge for drumming slowly subsided. 2 Years later I had more or less stopped drumming. Although there was a strong pull towards rhythm, the immediate urge was gone. I always ‘blamed’ my parents for not buying me a real drum kit, being the main reason for me to stop drumming… but events are now placed in a different context.
When playing in bands as a guitar player a few years later, I became the drummer’s worst nightmare as I had developed a metronomic precision for rhythm. I guess the anxiety connected to a need to control rhythm may stem from my early experience of non-periodic rhythm affecting my balance.
I now see this early childhood experience as a kind of subconscious ‘entrainment’ and enhanced need or urge to connect to periodic rhythm, which has become the undeniable support for my musical development. I love playing music and dancing to loud music for hours, while I cannot bear living in a noisy environment, unless it’s the nightly rhythm and music of crickets and frogs, the rhythm of Nature…