Local musician Randy Masters to teach course integrating sound with massage
While the Army, the CIA and even the City of Santa Cruz are studying ways to use sound to repel enemies, former jazz and world beat musician Randy Masters is among a group of scholars learning how to use sound to heal.
Masters, who taught music at UCSC and San Jose State, is now an “artist in resonance” at his Aptos company Resonant Living. He sells instruments that harness musical vibrations to “unblock the flow to the creator and restore balance and harmony.”
Unlike the City of Santa Cruz, which is using speakers along the San Lorenzo River to drive away homeless people and drifters, Masters uses sound and music to make life better; to help people focus and meditate, and maybe help them heal. Students travel from around the world to take his “Not So Mystery” classes.
“Musical vibrations have been at the heart of ceremonies for thousands of years,” says Masters, 64. “They have found 3,000-year-old Chinese cast metal gongs which were impeccably tuned to the perfect frequencies. That ancient work is only now being picked up by the Western world.
“A lot of civilizations know how to do profound things with sound. There are frequencies that can take you to a zone, put you in a trance or change your brain.”
Masters, who was the only white guy in the African band Hedzoleh Soundz in the ’70s—long before Paul Simon looked toward that continent—began studying “sacred vibrations” in chanting, religious music, drums, gongs and tuning forks.
He has more motivation than most in this field—and more reason to be skeptical. Born with a paralyzed right arm, he still learned to play dozens of instruments, although the piano is a challenge. He thought he might find a way to cure his arm through sound.
“I haven’t found it, but I’m still looking,” he says. “I have gotten results, but I haven’t completed the process.”
Maybe it’s his extensive work in music theory, but Masters links sound to mathematics, saying the numbers you hear in decibels have parallels to sacred shapes, such as pyramids. He’s done extensive research in Egyptian temples, even spending time in a sarcophagus bringing his numbers to life.
“Everything gives off vibrations,” he says. “Everything is made up of vibrating sound. Some things outside the body can be resonating inside it. We have things inside of us, but they haven’t been brought out.”
Bringing them out can have positive effects, such as inducing a meditative state or connecting to forces hidden in the body through the vibration of sounds.
There’s a world beyond the world of our senses, he says. For example, there are YouTube videos of crickets with the sound slowed down, in which the insects’ chirps sound like human songs, not the alien noises we hear. In his practice, he creates tuning forks linked to the decibel numbers of various planets or sacred figures and uses them to help people connect to those vibrations.
Like many in the field of sound healing, Masters is careful about making claims that could fuel complaints of false advertising from federal officials. He doesn’t say that he’s a healer, but says that using sound can help people heal themselves “by helping them focus on the healing powers within themselves.”
Thousands of people tried to plug into their own inner healers at September’s Global Sound Healing Conference in Oakland, with hundreds of practitioners including Masters, New Age musician Steven Halpern and biofeedback researcher Don Estes.
The range of products included a $60 “self pleasuring” CD to make sex better with its bells, gongs and nature sounds; crystal bowls made from rubies, emeralds and gold selling for $6,500; tuning forks pitched to the vibrations of the planets; and a giant granite block that when rubbed with water made sounds like a synthesizer. There was even a “silent sound” CD with nothing on it you could hear with your ears, but which supposedly registered positive vibe frequencies to your brain. You could pay $150 to hear nothing.
Any or all of them could put you in a trance. But how much of that is self-fulfilling prophecy and how much is science? That was debatable, even among those selling expensive wares at the conference.
“Nothing we do is about healing,” says Alan Tower, of the Resonance Center in Pasadena, who has people lie down in front of a giant granite sound stone, and with his hands coated in water, makes it sound like a synthesizer, with a pulsing literal wall of sound that brings to mind a Pink Floyd jam. “Not that it isn’t about healing. But we want the mainstream population to see sound as a resource, something to work with. Right now no one has even come close to cracking the code.”
His website www.theresonancecenter.com calls the stone “one of the most powerful and effective sound therapy tools in the world today.” Tower tries to keep it scientific, but his concepts are far from mainstream.
“For millions of years this stone was buried in the earth,” he says. “You pull it up and you are releasing the history of the rock. You engage water with it rubbing with your hands and somehow that creates the most amazing pulsations and rhythms and melodies. The rock gets to sing for its first time. Probably under the ground, in earthquakes when the plates are hitting, probably what you heard is what you are hearing here. The hand is intimately designed for the stone and the stone is intimately connected to the hand, through water. That’s not a New Age concept. That’s like foundational connection between humans and the planet.”
Masters is also afraid of some of the New Age terms thrown around by so-called sound healers who have little training.
“Just because you wear a white robe and play a crystal bowl doesn’t mean you have anything more to offer,” he says. “This takes lots of serious study.”
Masters will be teaching the first 200-hour state accredited course integrating sound healing and massage at Santa Cruz’s Cypress Health Institute in November. The institute’s manager Susan Matthews, who is a psychotherapist, says she found various forms of sound therapy, including tuning forks, to be powerful tools.
Some sound therapies can help align pathways in the brain and body, says Matthews. Rhythms played to both ears can help connect the right and left side of the brain, and other sounds can help a person reach meditative and relaxed alpha and theta brainwaves. She’s also seen the power of tuning forks.
“If you have a headache or you feel sluggish energy, there are different points you can use that will help,” she says. “When you hit the tuning fork, the vibration can be felt deep within the body.”
More information on the Sound Healing Course at www.cypresshealthinstitute.com or 476-2115.