Picture it, you’re listening to that one song with audio frequencies that make the hairs on the ends of your arms stand up, or that new album from your favourite band that fills you with emotions you might otherwise struggle to feel.
The sounds can ripple through your body, which in turn changes your mood whether it be lifting you up as if you were on the dancefloor in Ibiza, or it can force that tear you’ve been bottling up to fall from your eye.
Music is powerful, most of us know this, but we never really stop to ask ourselves why?
Music is tuned to specific frequencies in order for songs to have optimum sound quality. Little do we know that it’s often the frequency that is impacting our state, not solely the lyrics or the rhythm of the song.
What Are Sound Frequencies?
The number of cycles or vibrations that a sound wave completes in a given amount of time is referred to as its frequency. They are expressed in cycles per second, or Hertz (Hz), units of measurement, not the car rental company! When an object vibrates, it causes pressure changes in the air or water around it, which then travel as sound waves.
To put it simply, a sound’s pitch or tone is determined by its many audio frequencies. Lower frequencies are linked to lower-pitched sounds and higher audio frequencies with higher-pitched noises. For instance, a low-pitched sound like a bass drum has a lower frequency than a high-pitched sound like a referee
While this range might vary significantly from person to person, especially as we age, most humans can hear audio frequencies between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz. Other animals might be able to hear at frequencies that are above or below what humans can hear, remember those dog whistles that only they can hear? Well, that’s an example of how humans can’t hear the same sounds that animals can!
To produce different sounds and accurately reproduce music, musical instruments, speakers, and audio equipment are designed to handle particular frequency ranges. In disciplines like music, audio engineering, and communication technology, an understanding of audio frequencies is essential.
How Do They Affect Us?
Long-term exposure to loud noises or specific frequencies can cause damage to or loss of hearing. Our ears are sensitive to various frequency ranges, and prolonged exposure to loud noises in such ranges can physically harm the inner ear’s fragile structures. So, if you have a love of live music or raving, it would be sensible to invest in earphones, so you don’t do any permanent damage to your ears.
Vibrations caused by frequencies may have an impact on our physical health. For instance, certain frequencies may resonate with particular organs or bodily components, possibly influencing or increasing their activity. In alternative medicine, holistic healing techniques and meditation, this concept is frequently investigated.
Our emotions and mood can be affected by music because of its emotional impact and frequency combination. Positively resonant music can enhance mood and general well-being, whilst sad or violent music may cause unpleasant emotions in some listeners.
According to some studies, specific audio frequencies may affect brainwave patterns. Brainwave entrainment is a process that synchronises brainwaves in response to external stimuli, such as sound frequencies, to promote mental states, such as relaxation or attentiveness.
What Are Binaural Beats?
Binaural beats are sounds or pieces of music that are created by playing different frequencies in either ear so that your brain responds by creating a third frequency which is therefore called a ‘binaural beat.’ This binaural beat is your brain’s response to how it decodes both separate frequencies. Each frequency range has a different overall effect on the body and the mind, this is why each one is used to put you into a certain state of mind, whether this is to relax, to sleep or to allow creative thoughts and ideas to arise.
What Are The Different Forms of Brain Wave Frequency?
Each brain wave frequency is reflective of the state your body is in. Your brain wave frequency will be different when you are relaxing, falling asleep, in deep sleep or awake during the day. All of which can be changed when you’re exposed to different audio frequencies.
Gamma (25-50 Hz)
This kind of mental activity is related to attentiveness, focus, and problem-solving abilities.
Beta (13-30 Hz)
These brain waves are associated with attentive and busy thinking. Anxiety is also related to higher beta wave levels. It has been demonstrated that beta-wave binaural beats enhance mood and task performance.
Alpha (7-12 Hz)
Alpha waves signify a calm and serene state of mind. Binaural rhythm stimulation in the alpha range has been shown to boost creativity.
Theta (4-8 Hz)
Your brain generates theta waves, which are the smallest and lightest sleep waves, at a frequency of 4 to 8 Hz during stage one of sleep. Additionally connected to sleepiness and meditation are theta waves. According to studies, binaural beats with a 6 Hz frequency can help people feel more relaxed and introspective.
Delta (1-4 Hz)
Delta waves are the slowest type of brain wave. Under 4 Hz is the frequency of these waves. Your brain changes from theta waves to delta waves as you move into deeper sleep stages. Dreams are possible. You can fall asleep by listening to binaural beats at delta frequencies.
Can Audio Frequencies Affect Our Physical Health?
There are several studies that have shown a clear link between sound and our health. One study showed that music can have a physiological effect on the nervous system and reduces anxiety, which reduces patients’ experience of acute and chronic pain. We know that poor mental well-being can be linked to illness and disease, so if sound can directly affect our mood, then this shows there are potential healing benefits to being exposed to certain music. A study found that sound baths (a Tibetan spiritual practice) have many healing properties as the sounds help reduce tension, anxiety and depression, and reduce or relieve the feelings of anger in their participants.
Enhancing Workplace Productivity
It’s 2023, and companies now are starting to realise that being open to new ideas of how to create the best working environments for staff plays a key role in whether they’re successful or not. Allowing staff to listen to music, where appropriate of course, could have huge benefits to their mood and in turn the productivity and quality of their work. This is of course dependent on what staff are listening to, as some music could have the opposite effect on them, so it might even be a good idea to play a piece of music on a speaker that is tuned to a specific frequency to encourage focus, creativity or relaxation.
Some staff might not be happy with this so it’s always best to come to a unanimous decision before making changes like this!
Audio Frequencies of Modern Music
There have been debates as to what frequency music should be tuned to help the health of the population. The debate is between 440 Hz and 432 Hz, with modern music being primarily tuned at 440 Hz, and was changed in 1940 in the United States and the rest of the world followed suit in around 1953. One study shows that 432 Hz decreases heart rate more so than 440 Hz does.
There is still lots of research needed, to better understand the impact consistent exposure to these frequencies has on the individual, so for now, why not find a song tuned to each and test to see how you feel after listening to them and see for yourself! We hope this article gave you a better understanding about audio frequencies.
If you’re worried or concerned about your health, e-Surgery offers our free-to-use ‘Ask a Pharmacist’ service that puts you in direct contact with a medical professional in minutes. We’re here to help so don’t hesitate to reach out.