Tuesday, January 13, 2009

In Conversation--Marjorie de Muynck

Staying in Tune--Marjorie de Muynck

Sound Healer and musician Marjorie de Muynck ( pronounced Monk) recently published Sound Healing (Vibrational Healing with Ohm Tuning Forks). I have found this book to be user-friendly and easy to follow. The book is loaded with a wealth of vibrational and sound information and it comes with an instructional DVD.

The following conversation took place via e-mail.

WME: You are performing fascinating healing work with tuning forks based on musical concepts and vibration. What were the main turning points in your life that led you to exploring healing musical vibrations and working with tuning forks?
MM: I’ve been fascinated with tuning forks since I was a kid. My father gave me my first tuning fork back in 1963 to tune my guitar and being an explorative child I sounded the tuning fork on my body. This was before modern tuning forks were used in this manner so it was clearly explorative. Over the last few decades there have been findings that allude to the use of tuning forks in ancient times to harness vibrational energy. A powerful influence on me as a child that really edified my curiosity about placing tuning forks on the body came after watching an episode of Bewitched in the early 1960s, when Dr. Bombay treats Samantha with a tuning fork. This spoke to me about the healing potential of applied vibration at a very early age.

I was always interested in vibration as a small child; following the sound of bees and frogs and crickets – as well as the very fascinating vibration and hum of our window fan! My Native grandparents taught us to listen closely to the sounds of nature. There were no TV or radio at their home on the Grand Lake of the Cherokees in Oklahoma. Evenings were for sitting quietly and listening to the cacophony of animals sounding.

In 1980 the piano player in my band pulled out a tuning fork to help me with a migraine headache. It helped immediately and reminded me of my childhood exploration of tuning forks and how the vibration felt on my own body. This experience reawakened my interest and curiosity about the inter relationship of music, vibration and the healing arts, which I was beginning to formally study.

Later, as an Instructor at the Northwest Institute of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in Seattle, Donna Carey, who was the clinical dean at the time, and I introduced the tuning forks to the NAIOM public health clinic at the school as well as the 13 satellite clinics throughout Seattle. It was an instant success with the clients as well as the practitioners. We saw a great deal of healing with the tuning forks, and began to teach classes to acupuncturists and later massage practitioners, chiropractors, nurses, energy workers, etc., as well as lay people. Fourteen years later Sound Therapy has become more main stream, which amazes and delights me.

WME: You must run into clients or patients that come to you for vibrational healing, but then go home and perhaps listen to music that is detrimental to their health. Do you also educate people about healthy choices of music when they come to you for energy healing?

MM: Most of my clients who come for sound healing are well tuned in to what they listen to, and sensitive to their sound environment, so for the most part they tend to know when music or sound does not feel good to them. In my book I talk about the “Threshold of Noise,” and how the decibels or sound levels are becoming increased greatly over time. We have gotten so used to the constant sound in our environment via cars, TV’s, radios, stereos, iPods, construction, chatter, that our “body resonant factor” seems to feel more comfortable with some kind of noise. Subsequently the subtle sounds of nature, including silence, have gotten lost to us.

WME: Some sound healers work with synthesizers and I have also noticed a trend towards sound healing married to electronics which I personally find a contradiction in terms. Both you and Joshua Leeds work with acoustic instruments and sounds in your healing work. And in your book you discuss harmful electromagnetic waves. Did you want to discuss your views on this topic?

MM: As you know all of my compositions (four CDs to date) use no synthesizers, while most of the pop and new age music you hear is synthesized. An employee at Roland for example, has programmed an entire motif on just one key of the keyboard. Entire songs can be accessed with minimal involvement. I’m more interested in the creative and natural ambient music that comes from acoustic sound. I use the sounds of nature as the backdrop and foundation for all my compositions. It takes me many months to record my CDs working with acoustic sound, but it is quite satisfying. Acoustic sound feels truer as it resonates throughout my body and in my bones. 

Not too many people want to talk about harmful EMF’s (Electromagnetic Frequency), so I’ve elected to begin researching and engaging in rhetoric on the subject. We are beginning to understand more about these effects on our environment and on our bodies. Because we are made of vibration, it isn’t hard to imagine that we are influenced by frequency and vibration. Just recently I read an article about wind energy here in New Mexico, and how people living near the wind turbines are concerned about the health effects of being exposed to the continuous frequency emitted by the machinery. I am somewhat of a purist when it comes to applied vibration, which is why I like tuning forks and bowls as there is no additional frequency byproduct that exists with devices that are powered by electricity.

WME: Why are electric guitars and synthesizers dangerous to our well-being? And does it matter how these instruments are used and the intention of the musicians, or are these instruments (I will give a food analogy), like eating organic yogurt sweetened with sugar or corn syrup?

MM: It’s important to remember that music is a personal preference, just like food or movies, however I can say with some certainty having been a practitioner in the healing arts and a student of vibration that music can be harmful to your health. Every thing that vibrates or emits waves and these waves have a particular shape. Some waves can interfere with the natural wave form and rhythm of your body. And yes, intention is always of the utmost importance. How an instrument is played, or how food is prepared is bound to have an effect on our listening or digestive experience! I played electric guitar for years and I feel like it had an adverse effect on my body. I’ve always felt I was sensitive to the electro magnetic frequencies, and now there is research and evidence suggesting too much can affect us adversely. 

WME: Let’s talk about your groundbreaking new book Sound Healing: Vibrational Healing with Ohm Tuning Forks. First, explain what ohm tuning forks are. Then explain how sound healing tools work with other healing modalities in which people are already familiar such as acupuncture.
MM: Tuning Forks are acoustic instruments that are lightly tapped on an appropriate surface to activate the vibration. We have tuned our forks to the healing vibration of the Earth tone of Ohm. Ohm is also spelled OM or AUM, and in the book I discuss why I’ve chosen to use the O-H-M spelling, and why Ohm is considered a sacred and healing tone. In any musical system there is always a fundamental tone – I believe this holds true as well in Sound Healing. I have chosen Ohm to be the fundamental tone and explain the importance of working with a fundamental or root tone when working with the physical and energetic body.

Tuning forks create kinetic energy which can move stagnant Qi or energy in the body, which is widely recognized as the root of disharmony and even disease. The tuning forks work perfectly on acupuncture points as well as muscle fiber and bone. Tuning forks are wonderful tools for directing vibration and stimulating the Qi in a non-invasive manner, which is advantageous for needle sensitive patients. Sound vibration can travel deeply and access the body’s meridian system, which means the tuning forks can also be used to treat reflexively.

It is a perfect healing adjunct to acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic medicine, reiki, or as a stand alone therapy. The vibration of the tuning forks can be felt on the physical level, however because you cannot see the sound waves they also carry a mystical, spiritual quality.

My new book includes a 26 minute DVD which introduces over 20 treatment protocols plus application methods for the physical and energetic body; the book is illustrated and covers self-treatment and treating others, and includes a treatise on sound, vibration and the healing benefits of the earth tone of Ohm.

WME: I am not a healer myself, although I do heal myself with music and I found your book accessible and easy to follow. While many of the buyers of your book will be your colleagues in the healing professions, how could the average person seeking healing in their lives benefit from the information in your book?

MM: My intention was to present a book that was informative as well as accessible, and that is why I present the book and DVD to the general public also. Some people have described it as a home study course in sound healing. 

As you know I write about the Earth-human connection. It’s so important for us to realize that we are made of the same substances as the Earth; a perspective which is important for our healing and for the Earth’s healing. For example, humans, as well as the Earth, are composed of about 75 % water. Our mineral content is very similar to the Earth as well. In the color section of the book you’ll find a photograph by Linnart Nilson, (a Swedish photographer), of bone marrow. This photo actually looks like a field of roses or a coral reef, which beautifully exemplifies how our physical bodies are but a reflection of our earthly body.

WME: This is the final questions--We are here to explore the healing powers of sound and music as well as, finding the right vibrations to bring us to a place of homeostasis. So for people who are not going to purchase tuning forks or not have access to a healer with this knowledge, what would you suggest? Would exploring sounds and music in an individual’s environment and those effects on the mind-body-spirit be a good starting point?

MM: I would suggest the obvious, which is sometimes the hardest thing to realize. Find time to experience the sounds of nature as well as the healing sound of silence. In that silence feel and listen to the rhythm of your heartbeat and your breath.

Take time to really listen to your favorite music; music which helps you to feel comfort, and discover new artists! My CD’s composed in the musical Key of Ohm were composed with the intention of healing and taking the listener on a Sound healing journey.
I am currently writing a new book on music, sound and noise pollution. My Masters Thesis at Boston University focused on sound, music and healing.

Sound is huge part of our environment, trust what you hear.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

In review--timeless Sufi in the Sand

 Missing cover image

El Tanbura
Between the Desert And The Sea
World Village

The ancient Simsimiyya (Egyptian harp) possesses mysterious origins. According to the liner notes for Between The Desert And The Sea, the harp either derived from the shell of an unfortunate turtle that swum too far up river or it derived from mesmerizing sirens. Its sound is mesmerizing especially when backed by hearty call and response vocals and polyrhythmic traditional percussion.

El Tanbura is a collective of veteran Egyptian master musicians (harp players), philosophers, singers and fishermen. It also contains multi-generations of musicians whose music revolves around Sufi verses and folk melodies. And what I love most about this recording is its acoustic instruments. There are no programmed drums edging their way into traditional music, nor have the edges of this stunning music been polished for mass appeal. I find the songs on Between The Desert And The Sea compelling and magical.

This ensemble has been around for nearly 20 years just hovering beneath the world music industry radar. The musicians are both retrieving an almost extinct tradition and introducing music audiences to this versatile Egyptian harp that can perform exorcising rituals, conjure up benevolent spirits, and contribute its siren songs to hungry ears.

I recommend this recording for those of you seeking a truly exotic experience. (I am speaking for people from the West).


In Review--piano de flamenco

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Diego Amador
rio de los canasteros
World Village

The first time I saw jazz-flamenco fusion piano was when I watched the Latin music documentary Calle 54 several years ago. I found Spanish jazz pianist Chano Dominguez's flamenco fusion breathtaking. The next time I heard piano performed on a flamenco recording was on a piece by Estrella Morente where she sang over solo piano. Again, I found the inclusion of piano on a flamenco piece stunning, even amazingly beautiful.

The multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Diego Amador also marries jazz and flamenco piano. But he does not just play piano on his CD rio de los canasteros, he also plays guitar, sings, and plays bass. It's not so far-fetched that he would eventually fuse Latin jazz with Andalusian music. His first musical stint while he was still a child, was playing drums for his older brothers' flamenco-rock band, while honing his talents on piano and other instruments.

His first CD on the World Village label, Piano Jondo collected praise from all of the right places. He returned with another fiery album that includes such luminaries as flamenco guitarist Tomatito, a proponent of nuevo tango and flamenco diva La Susi, as well as, his brother Raimundo, bassist Carles Benavent and Argentine guitarist Luis Salinas.

This album includes only nine tracks. While all of the tracks feature top-notch performances, it is the track, Al Latin which concludes the album that has left the greatest impression on me.

So those of you reading this might wonder how is flamenco music healing? It helps to release pent up emotion without the dangerous back beat found in rock music. It bridges gypsy, Arabic and other cultures through music. Similar to classical music, this genre also includes its array of virtuosos whose performances are simply breathtaking and magical. Often you hear of this cathartic place called duende which you just have to experience. It is a music full of passion, beauty, pain, and transcendence.

To me, flamenco music recalls Beethoven's symphonies, particularly the 5th Symphony. This music also releases anger, frustration and emotions we tend to stuff under a rug and pretend don't exist. With both the Beethoven and flamenco experience, there is nowhere to hide. Sensitive listeners realize that and face the darkness inside themselves as well as, wounds and eventually come out the other side of the musical experience, cleanses and renewed.


In review--Music of the MidAtlantic

Eterno Navegar
World Village

Galician vocalist Uxia's Eterno Navegar could not have entered my life at a better time. The blend of Portuguese fado, Brazilian, Cape Verdean and Galician musical traditions possesses the fragrance of lemons and the taste of olives. And the lush array of instruments which includes regional, traditional, classical and jazz standard instruments, are beautifully arranged by producer-pianist Paolo Borges and Uxia. Certainly this recording is warming up my home and my life during one of the worst winters I have ever experienced.

For those of you not familiar with Galicia, it is a region in Spain that borders the Atlantic. The people of Galicia speak their own language, are of Celtic origin and the infamous "El Camino" ends in Galicia, at Santiago de Compostela. The other mentioned regions, Brazil, Portugal, and Cape Verde share the Atlantic Ocean in common. Restless themes of traveling by sea and befriending neighboring countries frame the recording. According to Uxia in her liner notes, "music has never had and will never have borders." This philosophy holds true on this recording and many like it.

Uxia's vocals which resemble Portuguese fadista Cristina Branco at times, flow quite well through jazz arrangements, A Quimera, the waltz Unha noite na eira do trigo and the opening duet, As Nosas Core with Portuguese-Cape Verdean vocalist Sara Tavares (one of many guests that appear on this lovely CD). One of the most fascinating track is the fado Eu en ti supported by dobro, slide guitar and piano.

Recorded in Lisbon, Eterno Navegar feels effervescent, uplifting and refreshing. This nurturing recording could do wonders to a midwinter health regime. Certainly it can thaw the winter blues. It feels downright toasty.