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Steven Ash
from: Steven Ash
Category: Drumming




The dictionary definition of fundamental is serving as a base or foundation, it is essential and primary, as in "being a fundamental form". In music the fundamental is the lowest note in a chord and the tone produced by the vibration of a whole sonorous body and is called the fundamental tone.


On a daily basis we need to return to the fundamental, but for all of us this is a relative definition, what is fundamental for you is not necessarily the base structure for me. Yet we all know how the mind works, never satisfied and easily distracted, mind is limited to the tangible and is easily judging every motive, thought and feeling. Because life is so hectic and we are all so caught up in our conditioned reactions we loose sight, feeling and sound of the fundamental experiences available to us in our everyday lives. So what is fundamental for each of us that is universal?

For example one fundamental sensation is our breath, it goes in and out connecting us like a bridge to all the life around us. This feeling in the breath of being alive with all life is often called “the holy name” and it can be sounded by groaning your personal fundamental note, that is your lowest note with the phrase “OM” According to many masters by meditating upon, serving, and speaking to and from this special place of holy name within the breath, peace, balance and bliss can be sustained in our daily lives.


Pa Ash my teacher in the early days of my growth had some lovely sayings about the fundamental, he would get us to breathe out and keep breathing out, and keep asking us “What is happening?” When each of us blue in the face, about to implode and sucked in like a fish would eventually let go and breathe in, he yelled at us “watch your self being breathed, you are being breathed one breath at a time, each breath is a gift, you are not breathing, you are being breathed” He would then compare the breath to a drum saying that “With every breath we are beating on a common drum” 


What about the overall human body frequency, does this give us any insight into our fundamental sound shape? The question of our body frequency fundamental varies, for example the brain is functioning at between 0.5 - 40 Hz, the heart beats at about 2 Hz, skin due the thermal radiation 1000 Hz and vision approximately 60 Hz. There is even greater variation especially when you take in the biological frequencies of the individual internal organs. Finding an overall average frequency that is true for everyone is questionable; and let us remember the essence of this article is asking what is the fundamental sound for each of us that we can focus upon in our daily lives, in activity and in rest, with the aim to stay in peace and balance?


In sacred drumming we use an even heart beat to co-ordinate members of a group of people, this is initiated by one member of the group feeling the blood pulse on the Radial artery on the wrist and then indicating the timing to us others, bringing us all in. This is used to bring us together as one, for ceremony or healing. We can start off all a bit chaotic and slowly the sound comes together and we become one beat, this is has a term “entrainment”. In entrainment we are seeking the fundamental sound of the group and keeping it’s axis as the heart beat.


The Earth’s fundamental is 172.06 Hz corresponding to the note F, Crown Chakra, Governing or Du Mai vessel in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and is the 48th octave of the procession of the Earths axis. Another interpretation of the earths fundamental is the Schumann resonance which booms within the earth’s body energy field at just below 100 Hz, this is a fluctuating field caused by thunderstorms and the effect of lightening striking the planet surface and atmosphere, it is estimated that at any given time there are 2000 thunderstorms happening around the globe. Interestingly in the Native American tradition lightening and thunder are regarded as the “Thunder Beings” the male force of Grandfather Spirit making love with the Earth Mother.


We can not with a drum get a beat of 100 strikes a second which is 100 Hz, thats like the fluttering of a humming birds wings, but what we can do is find a slower and lower octave with which we can with our minds eye seek and become co-ordinated. This focal point between the eyes corresponds to the pituitary and pineal glands central to the brain mass and is known as the third eye. This area is the intuitive meeting point of all the senses, of sight, hearing, balance, taste and feeling. With some skill we can penetrate downwards into the living nature of the Earth, exploring with the sound we are making combined with aimed consciousness through the third eye, until we individually find the fundamental resonance not as an unrelated absolute but as a relationship with all life. We can then go exploring because we have found our way in, not only to ourselves but to the whole of life as it is happening.


The following short passage from Li Gi, the Book of Customs an ancient Chinese text may serve as an illustration: "Thus one must examine the sounds to understand the tones, one must examine the tones to understand the music, one must examine the music to understand the laws. In this way, the path to order is made perfect... He who understands music will thus penetrate the secrets of the customs. He who has experienced both customs and music possesses life. Life is experience.”


In order for each of us to find peace we need to be firmly attached to our fundamental sound and reality in daily practice: that is where meditation, music and sound creation are essential. Fundamental truth and experience is not only a process of sensing as an observer but an opportunity to gain resonance with the whole of life both around as well as within us, this happens by us acting forward and making a strong contribution to the whole. As Prem Rawat stated this June in Madrid “This journey is the most beautiful journey that you have. You came. And every day of your life, a gift was given to you. You didn't ask for it. You didn't push a button for it. But in the abundance of the most precious thing there is on this planet earth, this gift was given to you.”

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