The Universality of Sound

“In the beginning was the word (sound)…And the word was God.” ~ James 1:1


“If you wish to understand the Universe think of energy, frequency and vibration ... Hold the thoughts for a prolonged period of time and practice becoming the vibrational match to what you want.” - 

~ Nikola Tesla



I had an experience in Sao Bento, a very old church in Sao Paulo yesterday that brought back and highlighted much of the philosophy that governs my life. This philosophy is pretty much summed up in the title of this post, The Universality of Sound. Since this church service was taking place in Brazil, the sermon, music, and verbal communications were all done in Portuguese. I speak very little Portuguese, therefore I didn’t directly understand what was being said or sung about. Yet, due to the universality of sound, I was able to emotionally comprehend the service, and have a profound spiritual experience  nonetheless. 


Sound is created by vibration. When you talk, sing, play an instrument, or bang a hammer on wood, that action creates ripples of waves that travel through the air. These waves reach our ears, and are then interpreted as sounds. If you had a magic power and were able to see these vibrations, they would fill the air around us. Different sizes, shapes, frequencies, colors, all creating distinct emotions and understandings. 


When you think about some of the best musical compositions in the history of mankind, you can think of them as expertly crafted vibration patterns, formed in just the right way to reach deep in your heart and mind to evoke a powerful emotional response. It’s hard to listen to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, for example, without getting, at the very least, a bit teary-eyed. It doesn’t matter what year it is, where you are located, or how old you are. When you really listen to the music, you can’t help but feel something. 


Back at the Church, the sounds penetrated my psyche like a vibrational ocean. Of course the beauty of this amazing building, the symmetry of the statues and architecture, and the dim rays of light landing beautifully on colored stained glass, all played a part in setting the stage. But once the sounds began, the experience took on another dimension. The Gregorian Chants of the choir blended in deep resonant harmonic relation, the gigantic organ exuded sonic power and restraint like a gentle giant, the low murmer of the congregation reciting a common prayer, all came together in an otherworldly sound experience. Even the clink of the chain on the incense holder as the priest threw the smoke in different directions served as a powerful sound ritual that created tiny little magical moments. Walking out of the Church that morning, I felt like my inner bell had been rung, like I had heard the sounds of the deepest part of the human spirit, even though I had not understood a word that was spoken. 


These understandings of sound have become the foundation of my life’s work. I created Banjo Earth because I have always been fascinated by the different sounds each culture creates. If you hear Chinese music, you don’t have to see the musician to know what it is. The same goes for Brazilian, or Indian, or any other musical culture from around the world. Each has developed their own musical vibrations, folklore, and emotional arts. I grew out of the Appalachian bluegrass musical legacy, and when you hear a banjo and fiddle get going, your imagination is immediately brought to the misty mountains of the Blue Ridge. The experience and study of these cultural phenomena have proven infinitely interesting to me, and I plan to continue to explore this realm as long as is possible. 


The next time you are hearing a piece of music that makes you unexpectedly emotional, or someone’s voice that brings you comfort and peace, or a sound from your childhood that brings back special memories, take a deep breath and let it all in. For at our core, we are energetic, vibrational beings. Spiritual Warriors on a quest for truth and love. And as you float on this ocean existence, allow yourself to bask in the wonder and brilliance of the Universality of Sound.