Moving Forward… What’s Called For and Needed?

Dear Sound Forum friends,


I began social distancing March 7th. I know we all have unique circumstances and challenges. For me, even while living in S. Oregon - which is pretty much out of the fray - it still took about a month to assemble ground beneath my feet, or at least to have a workable day living with uncertainty. To regain even a semblance of equilibrium, I had to go on a strict media diet, find a way to balance my empathy dials, and remember what I know about sound. These three things helped me move out of a state of anxiety with over-powering headwinds. I was feeling that the slightest breeze would blow me over. These days I am feeling far more solid and able to face these mutable times.


I’d like to recount my current and simple sound remedies, put to practice under pressure. I’d like to share and remind… for I had certainly forgotten.


My mentor, Dr. Alfred Tomatis (1920-2001), would say “…sound is a nutrient for the nervous system.” When I remembered this wisdom, I was definitely not surrounding myself with resonant sound; just too much time on Zoom and cellular telephones. I realized how much I craved non-compressed, organic sound. Yet, I live alone and was falling prey to the concept of social distancing, when in fact it is about physical distancing. In my confusion, I was becoming more and more isolated. It was at this point I realized the necessity of creating nutrient sound for and by myself.


Self-Generated Nutrient Sound


• I have a beautiful piano, but the cover had been long closed for emotional reasons. I opened it so the keys were always available. As I would pass by, I’d make it a point to press even just one note, if not make a chord or simple improvisation.


• I started to chant aloud, including affirmations: My fave, “I am Vital, I am Strong, I am Healthy, I am Balanced” (George Leonard).


• Read a book aloud.


• Hum (The Humming Effect, Jonathan and Andi Goldman, Healing Arts Press).


• Play my conga drums daily.


• Keep tuning forks handy and spread around the house.


• Sing.


• Create fave playlists on a streaming platform, or just let it play unstructured.


For me, music is like chocolate. One or two great pieces fill me up! Everyone is different and each day is different. And these times are very different. The whole idea is to have real live sound around often. It feeds the nervous system and soothes loneliness.


The Listening Mode Where You Can Disappear


I’ve been in a deep listening mode–especially in the early days before Covid-19 became a daily shroud–committed to divine the bigger meaning of this coronavirus. I was determined to be quiet enough to hear and recognize any truth of this time. While I was well-fed, without nutrient sound, I was fatiguing every afternoon by 4 or 5:00.


One day, I lay down on the couch, so tired, my iPhone in hand. My dear friend and soundworking colleague had sent me a soundtrack he’d created as a healing gift to his very large mailing list. Without even thinking, I put it on without headphones and listened thru the tinny little speaker of my mobile. Truthfully, I could hardly wait for this soundtrack to be over. To my brittle nervous system, it sounded like disembodied chanting buried in highly processed frequencies. But the real lesson came from my realization of how starved I was to hear voices singing melodies. I was craving beauty, for both metaphor and memory. And even on my tiny speaker, I found something that put me instantly at ease. Within moments, I realized how alone I’d been feeling, without touch… and how much I needed not just the nutrients of sound and the balm of the acoustic voice; I yearned for the sounds of harmony. Suddenly, I was not so alone.


This experience is what motivated me to start generating real sound. I am feeling so much better and clearer since then. Don’t need a nap, either. Something completely changed for me, and I am a sound guy for my whole life. I even wrote, twice (!), a book entitled, The Power of Sound. But I forgot about that power of sound. In the ongoing collective crises, I forgot.


Here’s to remembering what we know. Here’s to our gentle reminders to those nearby.


As thought leaders and practitioners in our field, an important function is to teach others about how accessible sound is for strong personal effect.


Moving Forward… What’s Called For and Needed?


Questions I find arising, especially during these unprecedented days are, what is of value?, what’s called for and needed?, where is the greatest relevance?


I wish you all well in these paradigmatic shifting times. While we don’t quite know what the future holds, I believe it safe to say that we do know that individuals have been holistically changed through this process of global winding down. Where and how this manifests is already presenting. Change, for many people, brings trauma and healing. Now is the time for us to step up. But first, remember to remember what you know, and take good care.


Joshua Leeds is a US-based sound researcher and music producer specializing in psycho- and bioacoustics. He is the author of the upcoming book, Music and Sound Health on a Hot Planet.


 



Moving Forward… What’s Called For and Needed?


By Joshua Leeds  200417


 


Dear Sound Forum friends,


 


I began social distancing March 7th. I know we all have unique circumstances and challenges. For me, even while living in S. Oregon - which is pretty much out of the fray - it still took about a month to assemble ground beneath my feet, or at least to have a workable day living with uncertainty. To regain even a semblance of equilibrium, I had to go on a strict media diet, find a way to balance my empathy dials, and remember what I know about sound. These three things helped me move out of a state of anxiety with over-powering headwinds. I was feeling that the slightest breeze would blow me over. These days I am feeling far more solid and able to face these mutable times.


 


I’d like to recount my current and simple sound remedies, put to practice under pressure. I’d like to share and remind… for I had certainly forgotten.


 


My mentor, Dr. Alfred Tomatis (1920-2001), would say “…sound is a nutrient for the nervous system.” When I remembered this wisdom, I was definitely not surrounding myself with resonant sound; just too much time on Zoom and cellular telephones. I realized how much I craved non-compressed, organic sound. Yet, I live alone and was falling prey to the concept of social distancing, when in fact it is about physical distancing. In my confusion, I was becoming more and more isolated. It was at this point I realized the necessity of creating nutrient sound for and by myself.


 


Self-Generated Nutrient Sound


 


• I have a beautiful piano, but the cover had been long closed for emotional reasons. I opened it so the keys were always available. As I would pass by, I’d make it a point to press even just one note, if not make a chord or simple improvisation.


• I started to chant aloud, including affirmations: My fave, “I am Vital, I am Strong, I am Healthy, I am Balanced” (George Leonard).


• Read a book aloud.


• Hum (The Humming Effect, Jonathan and Andi Goldman, Healing Arts Press).


• Play my conga drums daily.


• Keep tuning forks handy and spread around the house.


• Sing.


• Create fave playlists on a streaming platform, or just let it play unstructured.


 


For me, music is like chocolate. One or two great pieces fill me up! Everyone is different and each day is different. And these times are very different. The whole idea is to have real live sound around often. It feeds the nervous system and soothes loneliness.


 


 


The Listening Mode Where You Can Disappear


 


I’ve been in a deep listening mode–especially in the early days before Covid-19 became a daily shroud–committed to divine the bigger meaning of this coronavirus. I was determined to be quiet enough to hear and recognize any truth of this time. While I was well-fed, without nutrient sound, I was fatiguing every afternoon by 4 or 5:00.


 


One day, I lay down on the couch, so tired, my iPhone in hand. My dear friend and soundworking colleague had sent me a soundtrack he’d created as a healing gift to his very large mailing list. Without even thinking, I put it on without headphones and listened thru the tinny little speaker of my mobile. Truthfully, I could hardly wait for this soundtrack to be over. To my brittle nervous system, it sounded like disembodied chanting buried in highly processed frequencies. But the real lesson came from my realization of how starved I was to hear voices singing melodies. I was craving beauty, for both metaphor and memory. And even on my tiny speaker, I found something that put me instantly at ease. Within moments, I realized how alone I’d been feeling, without touch… and how much I needed not just the nutrients of sound and the balm of the acoustic voice; I yearned for the sounds of harmony. Suddenly, I was not so alone.


 


This experience is what motivated me to start generating real sound. I am feeling so much better and clearer since then. Don’t need a nap, either. Something completely changed for me, and I am a sound guy for my whole life. I even wrote, twice (!), a book entitled, The Power of Sound. But I forgot about that power of sound. In the ongoing collective crises, I forgot.


 


Here’s to remembering what we know. Here’s to our gentle reminders to those nearby.


 


As thought leaders and practitioners in our field, an important function is to teach others about how accessible sound is for strong personal effect.


 


Moving Forward… What’s Called For and Needed?


 


Questions I find arising, especially during these unprecedented days are, what is of value?, what’s called for and needed?, where is the greatest relevance?


 


I wish you all well in these paradigmatic shifting times. While we don’t quite know what the future holds, I believe it safe to say that we do know that individuals have been holistically changed through this process of global winding down. Where and how this manifests is already presenting. Change, for many people, brings trauma and healing. Now is the time for us to step up. But first, remember to remember what you know, and take good care.


 


 


Joshua Leeds is a US-based sound researcher and music producer specializing in psycho- and bioacoustics. He is the author of the upcoming book, Music and Sound Health on a Hot Planet.


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