Alfred A. Tomatis, M.D. (1920–2001) was an internationally known French eye, ear and nose specialist who received his medical degree from the Paris School of Medicine. His innovative theories of hearing and listening are known as the Tomatis Method or Audio-Psycho-Phonology (APP). Tomatis was among the first professionals to explore the full potential of the human inner ear. This includes the ear’s vestibular function (managing the balancing, movement, and orientation of the body in space), as well as, the it’s cochlear abilities (analyzing and decoding sound from outside the organism and processing a certain range of these sounds for the purpose of electrically charging the brain and the body with energy).
Music may be considered a ‘pre-linguistic’ language with all the characteristics of speech except semantic value. For the purpose of discussing the energy-charging process of the ear, music’s two essential elements are rhythm and melody. The vestibular function allows the integration of movements that comprise the rhythm aspect of music while the cochlear system enables transforming acoustic vibrations into nervous influx, thereby allowing the perception of melody.
Transport of electrical energy throughout the body is accomplished through the nervous system.
Anatomically, the vestibular nerve is directly connected with all the muscles of the body. Through its numerous branches the vagus nerve regulates the pharynx, larynx, and the visera (lungs, heart, stomach, liver, kidneys and intestines). The sensory auricular branch of the vagus nerve, located on the outer surface of the eardrum, relates the inner-vegetative aspects of the body to the external environment. The ear acts as a ‘vibration sensor,’ which charges the organism with electrical potential.
“The internal mechanisms which we call the neurological field are illuminated, and charged by stimuli via the skin, the joints, the muscles and thousands of things coming into our bodies from the external environment. But it is the ear which translates their potential to the brain. The energy of the sounds themselves accounts for 90% to 95% of the body’s total charge. … The most important range for charging the ear is between 2,000 and 4,000 cycles per second which is the upper range of the speaking voice.” Alfred Tomatis
According to Tomatis, our ability to hear is the first of our senses to develop. The ear begins functioning in utero four and a half months before birth. The higher frequencies of the mothers voice nourishes the fetus and creates a ‘sound dialogue’ between mother and child consisting of stimulus and response. This wordless dialogue forms the basis of development for later communication skills, language acquisition, learning ability, and social adjustment.
Western Art Music, commonly referred to as ‘classical’ or ‘concert’ music is an excellent source of charging energy for the brain and body. Mozart’s Violin Concertos are particularly suited for this purpose due to the abundance of high frequency sounds they portray. In general, Mozart’s compositions achieve a sensitive balance between the energizing and relaxing effects of serious, well-crafted musical compositions. Due to their rich spectrum of overtones, many forms of chant provide high frequency auditory charging that are easy on our ears. The rhythm of Gregorian chant also is consistent with the breathing and heart-rate of a relaxed person.
Another effective ear-charging choice is insect songs, often included in nature recordings. Lang Elliott and Wil Hershberger wrote a beautifully illustrated book, The Songs of Insects, which includes a compact disc of recorded songs. Insect songs can reach beyond 15,000 cycles per second. Along with Ted Mack, Elliott and Hershberger also recorded another compact disc of insect songs entitled Insect Concertos. The nature recording artist Gordon Hempton has a number of discs available featuring many aspects of nature sounds including insect songs. My favorite Hempton disc, Asia: The Misty Isle, was recorded deep inside the Sinharaja forest on the isle of Sri Lanka. Hempton is meticulous about his work; only producing those recordings which exclude all sounds of civilization.