James D'Angelo
Category: Sound Healing


Before this question can be answered the word “sound” has to be defined and put into context. For sound to qualify as a mode for healing it should be created through a regularly vibrating natural source preferably rich in overtones (1). These sources would be, first and foremost, the human voice and musical instruments from both Eastern and Western traditions. Included in this would be tuning forks.  Electronically produced sound, although scarce in overtones, has a role to play most notably in the Cymatics instrument first developed by Peter Guy Manners (2).

It has to be taken as given in the field of sound therapy that the physical, subtle and causal bodies of a human being are also regularly vibrating sources with their own set of frequencies. From the cellular level through all the layers of the auric field, including the seven principal energy centres all is in variant conditions of wave motion. Thus the health of an individual is directly related to the degree to which any physical or subtle aspect is vibrating at its optimum rate. This could range from sluggishness on one end to over stimulation on the other. In either case the energy is out of balance or better still, out of tune.

So the object of sound healing is to return that which is out of balance in its frequencies to its optimum rate or at least moving towards it.. More than likely it will be an ongoing process because the energy field, the chakras (representing our psychology), the organs, muscles and cells of the body will usually not hold to the applied sound. Just as pianos need regularly tuning or how instrumentalists are adjusting their tones as they play. Essentially this is achieved through what is known as sympathetic vibration. That is to say, the all the frequency aspects of ourselves, however dormant or distorted, has the potential to respond inherently to the influence of those frequencies sounded within their vicinity. They will literally be in sympathy with what they perceive and attempt to vibrate with the applied sounds.

A fundamental part of our energy field are the chakras and with these we have two vocal systems to bring an attunement in them. The first is Eastern and is found in the tradition of Tantra Yoga. It is a series of bijas or seed syllables which can be used mantricly (3)    What is implied is that the power of these vocal sounds intuited by the ancient seers is in sympathetic vibration with the chakras. That the very structure of seed sounds without any regard for what vocal tone is produced is sufficient to awaken these energy centres. That is to say, what actual tone is chosen to produce the seed syllable is immaterial because the chakras are responding to the frequencies emitted by the consonants and vowels that form the seed. Similarly, a Western system of vowel sounds corresponding to the energy centres has emerged over the years, first in the USA, through sound healers. The choices are not universal and variants are to be found. A question arises: How can both systems be valid and yet different?   This writer has no simple answer to this. Perhaps there are different “doorways” into the chakras. Whatever the case both systems do make a definite impact and what makes them so useful is that persons can heal themselves, Furthermore, the more the chakras are in harmony, the more the rest of the body responds. In this way it might not be necessary to have sounds for the actual physical body.

Having said this, there is yet another system of vocal sound with added movements that are directed at the organs of the body and it emerges out of Taoism and Chinese medicine (4). It employs four vowel sounds (OH, OO, AW. EE) and two sibilant sounds (SSS, SH). It can be presumed that sympathetic vibration is operative in these sounds inasmuch as the seers who created the sounds chose different ones for each organ. The principle is that the stress put upon an organ is due to overheating. The objective is to use the sounds and movements to release excess heat from the membrane surrounding the organ, cooling and cleansing it and returning it to its correct temperature. 

The other great source for harmonious wave forms are musical instruments, primarily non-Western: gongs, bowls, didgierdoo, for example. The gongs are an interesting example of diverse sympathetic vibration, A gong gives off a complex multiplicity of frequencies as it permeates our energy field. So the field and our physical body has many choices to draw upon. The gong is a kind of overall stimulant comparable to taking a multi-vitamin supplement. Hence treatments with a gong are often called “baths.” It is a non-specific energizer. However, this is not the view of Don Conreaux,(5) the most well-known purveyor of healing with gongs. Following on from Hans Cousto’s theory of planetary frequencies (6) Conreaux has had manufactured gongs that are attuned to all the bodies of the solar system including our moon. In turn, he has made a correlation between the gongs and five of the chakras.

Bowls nowadays are of two varieties: the metallic ones of the East, e.g., Tibet (7) and crystal ones (8) created in the West. The metallic ones containing an amalgam of seven to nine metals give rise to a richness of overtones, ideal for the healing process. The crystal ones emit purer tones with far less of the overtones. In either case the specifics of their healing sounds to resonate sympathetically with the condition resides both in the intuition of the person giving the treatment and the one receiving it. It is the uncanny ability of a practitioner to determine which bowls will be effective based on what the root problems are. On the other side the person being treated intuits which bowls are having an affect. Often there can be a sense of aversion as the sound penetrates into the region where it is needed. Because this aspect of the person has for so long been “out of tune” it is uncomfortable to have it shaken up by the incoming sound that is attempting to retune it. 

There is one other sort of instrument for healing which is not exactly “musical” and that is tuning forks. These are the same shape as used by piano tuners except much larger (3-6 inches long) and thicker and usually made of aluminium. The ones designed by the polarity therapist John Beaulieu (9) are an interesting case in point. The tunings use, as a starting point, the so-called Earth ring calculated at 7.83 cycles per second. However, he has rounded this figure off to 8 so using the principle of octave doubling the system is simply based on 1. This fundamental is not significant because the healing properties of the forks are actually based upon the simple ratios of intervals found in the overtone series. The idea here is that the sound of two forks enter the nervous system through the ears and send a proportional signal to the cellular level. The cells are resonated because they are vibrating to their own overtone series and are “listening” for the corresponding proportions that exist in them. This is sympathetic vibration using simple ratios such as 3:2, the perfect 5th, e.g., C to the next upper G.. There are other tuning fork systems designed by sound therapists Arden Wilkin(10) and Fabien Maman (11) as well as the recently deceased kinesiologist Alan Sales(12). The latter believed he had discovered through muscle testing resonant frequencies for the seven chakras and had forks manufactured on this basis.

Finally, there is the application of sound through electronic means. The best known instrument for this was invented by Peter Guy Manners (along with others in Europe) and he called it a cymatic instrument borrowing the word "cymatic" (Greek for "wave form") from the Swiss acoustics researcher Hans Jenny. Five sets of frequencies each are given for all parts of the physical body as well as psychological states and are adminstered directly into the region in question by an applicator. To this day, it has never been revealed how the frequencies were determined and why there should be five in a grouping. P G Manners, now deceased. kept it secret all his life. We also know nothing of his success rate with his patients at his Worcestershire clinic. . However, his disciple Christopher Gibbs (13) has written a book on the subject, soon to be published and it might shed some light on the subject. More research is being conducted by the producers of the new Cymatics instrument in the USA (14).

Ultimately it is our individuality which determines which methods and frequencies will assist us in the healing process. At a sound healing conference in Santa Fe in 2006, one of the leading figures in the field Don Campbell began his keynote address with this statement: “We have to remember at the outset that no one form of sound therapy works for everybody.” In many ways vibrations are having an effect on all the dimensions of our nature: listening to music, tuning in to the sounds of nature, singing, pouring out all our own natural sounds (laughing, crying, humming, groaning, sighing, wailing, etc.) and then all the approaches aforementioned.   Those of us within the field of sound healing would like to feel that it is the way of the future and we will call it as Dr. Gerber has in his great work on the subject: Vibrational medicine (15)

James D’Angelo


1) Overtones are frequencies embedded in a fundamental tone that are higher than the perceived sound and appear in a definitive proportional sequence.

2) Peter Guy Manners was a pioneer in the field sound healing. He practiced in England for many years and presented lectures around the world. His original Cymatics instrument originally used cassette tapes so that it was even possible to put music into the body with the electronic applicator. See Christopher Gibbs No.13.


3) See my book The Healing Power of the Human Voice published Inner Traditions (Healing Arts Press) www.soundspirit.co.uk


4) Taoist Ways to Transform Stress Into Vitality by Mantak Chia, Healing Tao Books, Huntington New York, 1985.

5) Gongs of our Solar System (CD) www.myterioustremendum.com

6) The Cosmic Octave by Hans Cousto. LifeRhythm Publications, 1987

7) See the work of the Tibetan bowls master Frank Perry www.frankperry.co.uk


8) Sounding the Mind of God by Lyz Cooper, founder of the British Academy of Sound Therapy. O Books, UK 2009. www.healtthysound.com

10) www.inner-sound.co.uk

11) Tama-Do The Academy of Sound, Colour and Movement. www.tama-do.com


12) Ragg Tuning Forks manufactured by Granton Works, Sheffield. www.granton.co.uk


13) He was assistant to P G Manners at his clinic and has carried on his work both in Kidderminster and London.

          For information contact chris_dfb@yahoo.com

14)See www.cymatherapy.com based in Atlanta, Georgia

15) Vibrational Medicine: The Handbook of Subtle-Energy Therapies by Dr. 

 Richard Gerber.   Bear & Company, Rochester Vermont, USA, 2001.

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