Colouring with sounds

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As a musician, I have always been searching for the ‘perfect’ tone on my instruments to match what I am hearing inside. I am a strong believer that every tone is unique with its own personality and affecting us in its personal way. It will be ideal in music therapy where one has a range of musical instruments to use to work on different parts of the body.

The tone from different musical instruments is believed to work on different parts of the body. Different instruments produce their own unique tones and is felt strongly in different parts of the physical body. For example, when there is scratching of nails across a blackboard. Such a sound is felt strongly on the skin as if it has been scratched and the sound does not goes deep into the body but remains on the surface.

According to Martina Etterich, a music therapist from Germany, nature sounds help with blood diseases. The acoustical tone from instruments ideally should have the quality of light and warmth in therapy. There needs also to have light from the faces of the teacher, musician and therapist to come alongside the light and clarity in the musical tone.

Following are some examples of how tone works on the physical body:

“If, on the other hand, you listen to a beautiful piece on the violin, you experience this somewhere else. The sound of the violin, if it is pure, is really related to the feelings. It does not remain on the surface of the skin, but it penetrates under the skin as if it were caressing you there. This is how it speaks to the feelings. And it is no coincidence that a violin played off-key, with a scratching sound, is so similar to scratching a blackboard. The effects on our body are close together. Another exercise we can do with the violin is to try to experience what happens to the sound in our body when we hear a scale played from low to high. We notice, especially when we are standing, that the tones climb up in our body like a growing vine”. (Soesman 1990)

Through the usage of different tonal colours, inner spaces within the individual can be accessed which seem to be lost and also struggling with its own soul trauma. For example, as the sound changes from the tam tam to the triangle, the experience created is that of the tone moving from a warm dark archaic power to one of light and form. Such a polarity in tonal colours can create a sense of balance within the individual.

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