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Many ancient cultures – Egyptians, Chinese, Celts, Arabs, Native Americans, Hebrews, and Christians – spoke of sound as a divine principle. They held the common belief that the universe was created with “One Sound”. God said, “let there be light”, and with the Primal Sound of Being, Nada Brahman, the world was created.

Then Western science came along and with its typical air of superiority it discarded these accounts as myth and lore created by primitive cultures who had very little understanding of how the universe really works.

Very often, though, those who think that they know better than everyone else, tend to not know that much after all. And that turned out to be the case with a lot of Western science. Hundreds of years of advanced scientific methods and technologies led scientists to discover that the ancient cultures had been right all along and they wrong. They had derided the ancient belief in a divine entity and rejected it as superstition without any scientific validity. Then they discovered quantum physics and the likes of Einstein had to concede that there must be an intelligence, a God, behind the design and orchestration of the universe. It couldn’t be any other way.

So does that mean that, as our ancestors claimed, this intelligence sang us into existence with sound? Apparently, yes.

In 1967 and after 14 years of studying the effects of sound vibration on substances such as fluids, powders, and liquid paste, Swiss medical doctor and natural scientist Dr. Hans Jenny published a book titled Cymatics: The Study of Wave Phenomena. Here he explains how, by spreading substances on a metal plate and feeding a simple tone, he was able to bring matter to life, to give it forms and shapes that we invariably find all around us, in both animate and inanimate entities, on earth and in outer space. Here we can see some of these experiments:

The ancients said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God”; modern science now says, “Into the great void of space came a sound and matter took shape”.

So yes, it seems that sound calls the universe to order – and beauty. It gives shape to living creatures, crystals, leafs, plants, geological structures, and celestial bodies. And that might explain our ancestors’ fascination with sound.

Sound to them was a means to connect with the universal intelligence. They revered the sounds of life and devotedly listened to its symphony. They produced sounds to enter into a relationship with a greater reality. They prayed, chanted, made invocations, sang, and drummed. They sought paces that emanated powerful sonic vibrations – mountains, caves, rocks, forests. They built sacred structures that recreated and amplified these sounds and went there to attune themselves and to be in harmony with the forces of nature.

They did so not out of superstition or fear of a punishing god. To them, this connection with the universe was vital and essential to their survival. After all, we’re a part of a whole, and if we are not connected and in harmony with it, our survival is threatened. Our ancestors knew this.

Today’s world is very different. We’re surrounded by very different sounds, most of them noise. But there’s one place, one “campfire”, which has been soundproofed, acoustically treated for excellence, and equiped with mightly Dolby systems. It’s a place where we city dwellers can once more experience sound in rich and meaningful ways. There’s much that we can learn from our ancestors about harnessing its power.

Narrative function of Bradley Cooper’s voice in A Star Is Born (2018)