Sound has a profound ability to affect the human mind and body, and there’s both an art and a science behind it.
Sound meditation explores this esoteric facet of music, using harmonically complex instruments such as gongs, singing bowls, and hand drums to create deep meditative states. Alexandre Tannous is a renowned sound meditation expert who recently conducted some improvised sessions for a Splice Explores pack — below, we spoke with Alexandre to learn more about the art of sound meditation and how he created his sounds.
What was the process of recording this pack like?
Because everything was being extemporized, nothing was prepared in advance. All of my tracks are one-take; I would get in a meditative state and then start playing. Jesse (the engineer) would give me the signal, and then I would just start playing without knowing how long it’s going to last. I would just follow the flow and be in a meditative state as I was playing, as I always do. It’s more like a meditation than a recorded performance. I found this to be the most suitable and sensible to what I’m trying to achieve with these recordings.
What do you hope the sounds will show producers about sound meditation?
I hope the pack demonstrates a different way of experiencing sound, where there’s more active participation instead of listening to something in the background. Sound mediation inherently requires more presence, deeper listening, and a greater level of attention to nuances in the harmonic spectrum.
For example, the sound of a gong is full of harmonics, but the sound changes based on how I play the gong and the kind of mallet I use. And these mallets have many variables themselves — weight, hardness, etc. In a normal instrument, one plays different notes. You can’t do that on a gong; you can only explore its potential. And that in itself is a different modality of experiencing an instrument, where there’s a greater focus on the nuances.
Tell us about the sounds in the pack and what was recorded.
The pack contains different instruments such as gongs, singing bowls, didgeridoos, bells, and more. What makes these instruments unique is that as you’re listening to the sound waves, you hear the harmonic makeup; it’s not concealed by the fundamental frequency. Humans intuitively select these instruments in sound therapy because of how they promote and evoke transcendental states that are conducive to meditation.
Of course, one could record piano, violin, and guitar, and the performance can be meditative, but these instruments are not as powerful as the ones that I named earlier because of the fact that we don’t hear the harmonic spectrum in a way that’s as clear and rich.
What do you hope producers will create with this pack?
I hope that they would be inspired to create a different kind of music than they normally do. We always have to push the envelope of what we can do in music, considering the fact that across all sorts of realms, music has been demonstrated to be indispensible to humans.
November 20, 2019