Brainwaves and consciousness

About the brain

Our brains are made up about a trillion nerve cells called neurons.. A neuron is an electrically excitable cell that processes and transmits information by electro-chemical signalling. Each of these neurons are connected to up to 10,000 other neurons and a neuron fires typically about 5-50 times every second. When many such neurons fire at once, there occurs a enormous surge in the electrical activities in the brain. The electrical activities, which can be measured by a electroencephalogram (EEG) test, are called brain wave or brain rhythm mostly because of its cyclic, “wave-like” nature. The brain waves are divided in to five categories according to their wavelength; Alpha, Beta, Delta, Gamma and Theta.

Binaural beats

Binaural beats were originally discovered in 1839 by physicist Heinrich Wilhelm Dove. He discovered when signals of two different frequencies are presented separately, one to each ear, your brain detects the phase variation between the frequencies and tries to reconcile that difference.

In doing so, as the two frequencies mesh in and out of phase, your brain creates its own third signal — called a binaural beat — which is equal to the difference between those two frequencies. For example, if a frequency of 100 Hz is presented to your left ear, and a frequency of 105 Hz is presented to your right ear, your brain “hears” a third frequency pulsing at 5 Hz, the exact difference between the two frequencies.

Research has proven that introducing a binaural beat will cause the brain to begin resonating in tune with that beat. By creating a binaural beat at 10 Hz — an Alpha frequency — you can trigger your brain to resonate at that same 10 Hz frequency, automatically inducing brain activity in the Alpha range. This same technique can be used to quickly and easily guide your mind into any state.

When your brain begins to resonate with the binaural beat, or “follow” the beat, this effect is called the Frequency Following Response. This phenomenon was thoroughly researched and tested in 1973 by biophysicist Gerald Oster at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. His research on binaural beats and the Frequency Following Response was published in Scientific American and paved the way for further development in the area of auditory stimulation to enhance brain functioning.

Since that time, binaural beat technology has been endorsed by scores of doctors and scientists around the world. By introducing a precise harmonically layered blend of frequencies to your brain via our audio technology, you can effortlessly achieve powerful states of focused concentration, deep relaxation and more, all while stimulating parts of your brain to work together in synchronization.


Alpha waves (8-15 Hz): The relaxation wave

Alpha waves originate when you are in a state of wakeful relaxation with closed eyes. They occur when you get up in the morning and just before sleep or during meditation. Alpha state is the goal of meditators. It heightens your imagination, visualization, memory, learning and concentration. Alpha brain state reduce stress and depression and can be used for self-hypnosis and mental re-programming.

Beta waves (13-61 Hz): The waking consciousness wave

Beta states are the states associated with normal waking consciousness. Low amplitude beta waves with multiple and varying frequencies are often associated with active, busy, or anxious thinking and active concentration. While Beta brain waves are necessary for all round functioning throughout the day, lack of it can result into can cause mental or emotional disorders such as depression, ADD, and insomnia.

Delta waves (0.1 – 3 Hz): The deep sleep wave

Delta waves are associated with the deep sleep and aid in characterizing the depth of sleep. Along-with many other things deep sleep is essential for any kind of recovery. Delta waves help your body to heal itself and reset all the internal clocks. During the delta state you do not dream and are completely unconscious.

Gamma waves (27 Hz and up): The insight wave

Gamma is associated with the formation of ideas, language and memory processing, and various types of learning. Gamma waves have been shown to disappear during deep sleep, but return with the transition back to a wakeful state.

Theta waves (3 – 8 Hz): The light sleep wave

Your mind’s most deep-seated programs are at Theta and it is where you experience vivid visualizations, great inspiration, profound creativity and exceptional insight. Unlike your other brain waves, the elusive voice of Theta is a silent voice. Theta waves helps you in light sleep and extreme relaxation. After an long time in the Beta state the ratio of potassium to sodium is dis-balanced in our neurons which is the primary cause of what is called “mental fatigue”. A brief period in Theta (about 5 – 15 mins) can restore the ratio to normal resulting in mental refreshment.

Enjoy the brainwave music and make sure to use your headphones.


Why music theory?

As you might have read in What is music?, the effects of listening to music are great. But, the effects of musical education are even greater. Experts say that “with music lessons, because there are so many different facets involved, such as memorizing, expressing emotion, and learning about musical interval and chords, the multidimensional nature of the experience may be motivating to the IQ effect” (“Effect of Music on Children’s Intelligence”).

So, the knowledge of music theory essential to be a good musician? Well, theoretically no and practically yes. You can learn to play any instrument given you spend enough time with it. If you want to play for fun, you can start right away, learn a few chords and strum away. Musicians learn to play and improvise by listening to others, copying their style and sound. You can compose you own song and not know anything about music theory. Let’s draw an analogy to human speech. Not being well-versed in grammar doesn’t deter us from speaking, reading or even writing.

But, once you try to understand music theory, all the dots start connecting and you get a good idea and grasp of what its all about. It opens up a whole new dimension of your playing. You would be able to critically listen to music and to be able to detect errors (and other deviations from the score). Music theory allows us to speak with other musicians in a common language. It serves as a short-hand for referring to important points in the music. It allows composers to analyze the work of other composers so they can develop their own style.

So, here is a short movie about  pure intuitive, instinctive feel based approach vs a structured, principle based approach


Next up: The guitar!

What is music?

Music is a complex amalgam of melody, harmony, rhythm, timbre and silence in a particular (intended) structure: Hanslick

Music is an art form, an art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms. Since times immemorial, music has been one of the most influential art form. Music can put a baby to sleep and also incite a riot.

The popular form of music of a period reflects its culture.”There were times and places — in the Europe of the Middle Ages, as an example — where music might remain largely the same for hundreds of years,” says Selwyn Duke in “Influential Beats: The Cultural Impact of Music.” “And it is no coincidence that in medieval times something else also remained quite constant: culture. It is clear to me that changes in music hew closely to changes in society’s consensus worldview. This explains why musical tastes change so quickly today: With no dominant cultural stabilizer, such as the Catholic Church (whose medieval influence is undeniable); the ability to transmit ideas worldwide at a button’s touch via modern media…society is prone to continual arbitrary change.” .

Music is one of the very few activities which involve the most parts of the brain including including auditory, motor, and limbic. Studies have suggested that music plays an important role in the socialization of children and adolescents. Listening to music can improve your concentration, increase your attention span, improve athletic performance, motor control, and even intelligence. As a background activity, listening to music can reduce stress, aid relaxation, uplift your mood, and induce sleep too.

So, here is a beautiful piece of music by Frédéric Chopin


Next up: Why music theory?