Saturday, October 20, 2007

In Conversation--Marjorie de Muynck

A few weeks ago I received a powerful recording in the mail by sound healer and musician Marjorie de Muynck. In The Key Of Earth features overtones of several acoustic instruments, revolving around the earth tone, Ohm.

I have been playing this CD on a daily basis and I have noticed a difference in my physical and emotional being. I am calmer and more centered than usual. I am feeling more present in the moment and more connected to the earth in which I walk upon. Not only that, I have noticed more birds and non-human creatures showing up for the duration of the recording.

Most important, Marjorie's atmospheric earth sounds reminds me of the vast musical experience we encounter on a daily basis. It reflects on the nature of sounds that we normally take for granted and also the earth which we also take for granted. In an era of global warming and the loss of a great number of species, we must become more aware of our carbon and I would add, sound footprint on the planet. We must become more conscious of what we consume and what consumes us. And as consumers, we must become more ecological conscious and more appreciative of the earth that sustains us.

The following conversation took place via email.

Whole Music Experience: What healing aspect could a listener expect when listening to music tuned to the universal vibration, "ohm"? My guess is that listening to this vibration that lands between C and C sharp according to your notes, allows us to ground to the earth and feel a sense of oneness.

Marjorie de Muynck: Ohm is an Earth tone. It is scientifically calculated and spiritually upheld. The ancients knew this music/tone. We find it in the tunings of sitars and Tibetan bowls, as well as antique Irish musical instruments. When we listen to this tone we are actually resonating with the earth. I use Ohm tuning forks placed on strategic acupuncture points to balance the whole body system. It’s called Ohm Therapeutics. The music enhances the treatment as the tuning forks are in the same key as the music. A little of this treatment is extremely

The diatonic musical system, as in the piano/keyboard, is really quite new in the world, having been around for approximately 400 years.

I am writing a book on these concepts now, called Ohm, Overtones and Sound Healing looking for a spring release.

WME: Explain what overtones are to listeners out there unfamiliar with the term? And what type of effects do overtones and harmonics have on our bodies and minds?

MM: Overtones are subsequent tones of the fundamental tone that is struck or sounded. Overtones surround us daily. If you pass an auto mechanic shop and listen to the sound of struck metal you will hear overtones. The human voice is lush with overtones, as is apparent listening to the Tibetan monks or when children are playing around with their voices and opening their throats while sounding a tone. We used to do that as kids. This is the same thing the Tibetan monks are doing, however they have practiced it for many years with tone intention. A didgeridoo is so lush with overtones, as well as the sound of crickets. I have a whole chapter devoted to overtones in my upcoming book.

These “unstruck” tones occur naturally and contain intervals and sacred geometries. The subtlety of these tones is unlike the heavy handedness of much of our modern medicine.
Allowing the natural intelligence of our vibrational bodies to assimilate these subtle tones is healing.

Notice the smell and clarity after a thunderstorm. Imagine this happening inside of your body after listening to overtones.

WME: In your liner notes you mention the childhood origins of your work; the music of the natural world. Would you consider those experiences shamanic in the sense that you were hearing the spiritual voice of the earth? (Please elaborate on these experiences).

MM: Big yes here. I listened to the earth as a very small child. My maternal grandparents were Native American and I was given some direction toward listening carefully to the animals, to nature; to learn from all that I heard. When I was about 6 or 7 my father took us to a large company picnic near an area with thick woods. There were lots of people at the picnic. They played softball and had hula hoop contests for the kids. I hung out for awhile and then snuck away from the picnic to go into the woods. I knew I wasn’t supposed to go alone, but my urge to run into the woods and explore was strong. I was never afraid.

As I walked through the woods I heard a rattling sound, and found myself being pulled toward the sound. I looked down and there was a nest of baby rattle snakes. I was so thrilled with this incredible sound that I reached down and touched the rattles!!!!! I did this for awhile and then moved on to other places in the woods. I never told anyone, but as I got older I realized how incredible this was. The mother snake is never far from her young.

A Shaman told me later that this was a Shamanic experience for me. I went on some vision quests with the Huichol Shaman for several years and had many more experiences such as these. I had a great conversation with some dragon flies up in Alaska on vision quest, along with some eagles in Washington state. I think we are capable of hearing and seeing more than we know.

This is what horse whisperers do; they are open to hearing what the animal is saying.
Most humans don’t listen carefully or they are busy interpreting animals from their own perspective. It’s a two way conversation. They are many ways of listening and there are many ways of knowing.

WME: What I like most about your CD, is that you employ only acoustic instruments. Unlike other recordings of this genre, digital instruments are absent. Why did you choose to only play acoustic instruments?

MM: Thank you for this question Patricia. I felt a surge of creativity when I began this CD. I’ve been a musician for many years and the trend of the synthesizer has been both wonderful and detrimental to music. I wasn’t interested in pushing a key and having a whole motif come forth.

This is programmed by someone at Roland or Yamaha. Some of the music is artificially made and some is manipulated sampled sound. It just didn’t feel like the creativity would be coming from me; my own voice and interpretation of my experience hearing the earth. The synthesizers and samples are there for those who feel inclined to use them and that’s ok, it just isn’t for me. There is so much rich music in the subtleties of acoustic sound, and I felt inclined to go on this journey.

WME: I noticed that when I play this CD, flickers come into the yard and call out. Now, I hear flickers outside occasionally, but it is more than a coincidence that nearly every time I play your CD, the flickers call out.

Please tell readers of this site about your personal connection to flickers and how you addressed this music to them.

MM: I live in northern New Mexico. For the past four years there have been devastating diseases that have had a detrimental affect on our bird populations here. We lost 90-95% of our flickers, along with magpies and other large birds. I have a daily ritual that includes sounding the name of the animal or plant in trouble. I believe this kind of resonance is felt or heard by them. If we call on them, doesn’t that vibration connect to them? My answer is yes. There is such a tender connection between us, the earth inhabitants. It involves a deeper listening to hear them, but they are full of communication.

They tend to gather around my windows when I play this CD, and join in. This year I have seen more flickers than I have seen in years. It’s like seeing an old friend again.

WME: And this brings me to the next topic. Many people do not realize that non-human creatures enjoy music. After all, in our society we mention frog and bird songs. I would guess that the frogs are singing to other frogs and birds are singing to other birds, as a form of communication. But I think recently that scientists had discovered that birds also sing for pleasure. (I cannot recall the source of where I heard this).

In your own experiences as a musician and a sound healer, how would you describe a relationship between music and non-humans?

MM: It’s simple to me. When you listen to a bird singing, is that not music? Whether it’s meant to be communication or not, it’s music. Humans use music for communication. I remember hearing someone say that we sing in praise of our creator, in praise of our life. Some of my happiest moments in life are hearing a bird just singing away; some mournful, some so full of joy, not unlike us. Our vehicles of expression are our jewels.

WME: Sound healers seem aware of sound vibrations on the human body, whereas, it seems that only a handful of musicians, and those mainly working in music therapy or recording new age CDs seem to lack this awareness.

In your opinion, would you say that prolonged exposure to music with violent lyrics, or even violent beats, grinding guitar, and lack of music consciousness, can cause illness? (If some music can heal the body, can other music break down the immune system or cause emotional problems?)

MM: This is an important question and one that I have written about over the years and addressed in my sound healing classes. As sound healers, I believe we have a huge responsibility to address the adverse effects of sound. Much of the way music affects us is in the rhythm. We are rhythmic beings and you can imagine that listening to music that drives in a rhythm that is against the heartbeat that this can wear you down. Our body rhythms will unnaturally adjust to these rhythms, which can be responsible for interfering with heartbeat, pulse, circadian rhythm, etc. So you can understand how this can break down the immune or cause emotional problems.

And of course the loudness or the decibel range of music can cause irreversible damage to the very delicate workings of the ear. I also believe music is getting louder. I call it the
“Threshold of Noise Syndrome”. Music gets louder and louder to drown out all the noise and static in our environment. The absolute overnight popularity of the iPod is somewhat connected to tuning out as much as tuning in to music. I don’t own an iPod. I like the idea of it in some ways, but I have seen a lot of data to support that placing a speaker right next to your eardrum is causing a lot of hearing damage.

I read a recent report that addresses this phenomenon happening in alarming rates with very young teenagers. My Master Thesis in Music involved writing integrated Music/Science Curriculum for 5-6 graders addressing the implications of sound and illness. I talked about the iPod and also everyday exposure to sounds that are detrimental to our health.

*THANK YOU Patricia for this interview. I enjoyed it.

In The Key Of Earth can be purchased at Sounds True