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neuroasis

Entrainment Ecosystems

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I live in a wooded area near a lake and with wide open spaces compared to most suburbanites.

To give you an idea of my surroundings, last evening I went outside to sit in my favorite nighttime spot on the deck and as I was getting ready to slip down into my rickety wicker chair the security light clicked on and tucked behind the woven legs was a 3 foot garter snake nearly camouflaged in the darkened wood. No doubt he was looking for a place to dry off after all the storms we have been having as of late.

I had a quick moment of mental lockup as my brain sputtered and struggled to deliver the appropriate response upward to my higher conscious centers. Fight or flight or everything?s all right? Truly, that is a unique feeling to experience: the moment of disconnect when something totally shocking intrudes upon our cozy habitat. When a small chasm forms between what we expect to see and what we actually are seeing. Nonetheless, he wasn?t any real threat so I politely made the snake aware of my dominion then went inside for a while (to hide?) and let him go on his slithering way, which he did without further incident.

This sets the tone for this blog post.

Admittedly, I am a committed night person. Throughout my entire life I?ve been fascinated with the sounds of the night.

A wholly new world of sights and sounds envelops the landscape as the sun goes down. Strange choruses of infinitesimal creatures serenade the dim surroundings tucked away in nooks and branches, blades and furry beds. Crickets and cicadas, bats and beetles, owls, coyotes, frogs and howling dogs... these are the voices of the shadow side.

Sitting outside at night there are rare moments when I sync with the symphony and feel the armor come off and raw nature shake itself free. That feeling of oneness, a melded being, a lift above and a look beyond, more than just me, but a drip in a stream.

If you have ever been camping and slept outdoors, felt the cozy mirage created from simmering firelight, then you may share a sense of the feeling, as if ancestral echoes whisper near.

As thousands upon thousands of insects sing, their pulsating orisons, fluent etudes and shrill staccato sending out mating calls. And frogs puff and bellow, punctuated by eerie warbles from wind-struck leaning trees, reader are you with me? Can you hear eternal nature cry out in symphony? Is the pulse of your heart beating in sympathy? Are your brainwaves firing, aligning in synchrony?

That to me briefly is an untitled enlightenment, when night eyes have few sights to see, the serendipity of the smallest sound surrounds me.

So let?s put the poet to bed for a moment. The idea that I am trying to convey is that nature at night can alter our consciousness. We on this forum understand somewhat the science of brainwave entrainment or are trying to. Any steady pulse in the right range of frequencies can cause our awareness to shift, toward meditation, sedation, excitation, exhilaration...the shaman?s rattle and the flickering flame are piping through microprocessors at the speed of light.

I am a believer and proponent of primordial sound. What is that? Sounds like those I am describing... sounds that speak to our deepest being. Those that signal our DNA to unfurl ancient memories, sounds that trigger remnants of dreams or set imagination scouting out into space, at once at home and at the same time alien. You will read and hear more from me on this topic.

For now I want to describe a technique that I am working on. I call it Entrainment Ecosystems or Eco Entrainment.

Basically through the magic of sound synthesis I have finally begun to do what I have always secretly wished was within my grasp. That is, act as conductor of the calls of the wild and set their pace for my amazement and play. You see, here at the top of the food chain, we have theory, artistry, audacity... yes, it is enough to become one with the fertile earth...yet, eons of neurons cause us a yearning to learn... o poet stand firm for you?re floating...

So in the example audio file I have posted, I have synthesized a chorus of crickets and cicadas. I have sequenced them to begin at 8Hz and ramp down to 4.5Hz. This is only the barest proof of concept. There is also an Audiostrobe track contained within if you download the full FLAC version.

For now, simple as it is, it may be rather grating... at a distance it is fine but close in headphones...a little much. Soon, though I plan to expand this idea into full environments. Each element aligned for timing, assigned to entraining rhythms.

And at last, happily, the sounds of the night at my bedside...ready to ride...where ever they lead me.

Hope there are a few that enjoy the sounds of the night as much as me... comments encouraged and welcomed.


http://soundcloud.com/neuroasis/eco-entrainment-8hz-to-4-5hz

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Comments

  1. Robert Austin's Avatar
    Great post, and nice writing, too... I think you're completely on the right track with this. I've tended to notice 'entrainment' in nature as well, actually mode-locking behaviors which operate at many scales in nature. Pendulum clocks on the same wall will eventually synchronize phase, despite starting in random phases, fireflies settle into flashing together (but: always a few outliers in biological systems).

    Are you familiar with R Murray Schafer's work on acoustic ecology? He pioneered the field from Simon Fraser University back in the late 60s; he wasn't specifically looking at mode locking, just the ecological aspects. Turns out that say in a jungle, where there are a lot of different voices trying to be heard, and therefore the possibility of interference, various creatures have evolved to communicate within discrete audio channels, ranging from the subsonic (elephant foot-communications) to the ultrasonic (some insects, birds...).

    I recall noticing how the cicada songs in the large Japanese garden at Waseda University would form amplitude waves which traveled around the irregular garden.

    Insects are not the most relaxing sounds--too intense in the high end, though judicious use of a phase vocoder, or maybe spectral inversion via Metasynth could help (I love Metasynth, it sometimes is a bit maddening... for example, being able to adjust the parameters used for transformation of audio file to image synth, which I assume is a fast fourier transform). But clicks are the most effective means of generating an audio evoked potential, and at least one publication reports that clicks up to 1000 Hz can produced resonant synchronous activity in the auditory cortex (this experiment involved someone who was being mapped for epilepsy surgery, and therefore had a batch of electrodes inserted into his brain). Clicks could be hidden in 'crackling fire' sounds to make them a bit more palatable, and of course, the flicker and crackle frequencies dominant in a campfire tend to be in the same range as our brainwaves...
  2. neuroasis's Avatar
    I took your suggestion Robert and created a track with some short clicks providing entrainment and embedded these in the sounds of crackling fire. Wind is also included. The track ramps from 10Hz to 6Hz. A FLAC version is available for download.

    Also I should mentioned that the sound effect has been 'warped' or 'time stretched' so that to the best of possibility it is fully aligned to the entrainment tempo. It is especially noticeable in the low frequencies. Also, a subtle LFO is added that reinforces the frequencies by modulating the sample. This is apparent in some of the sizzle. A holophonic sound stage is being used for the wind and there is a low amplitude click far in the background that is pulsing into a 3D reverb also providing entrainment.

    Thus, the entraining frequencies are reinforced on several levels.

    http://soundcloud.com/neuroasis/wind-and-fire-10hz-to-6hz
    Updated 06-01-2011 at 05:59 AM by neuroasis
  3. Marisa's Avatar
    I like the term "eco entrainment" and the concept. I also enjoyed reading your description of the evening event. Spotting a snake - how cool is that!! Interesting post and comments.
  4. Robert Austin's Avatar
    Wind and fire sounds good, and relaxing to boot (had to up my coffee input to combat its effects, heh). Laptop speakers won't do it full justice, so I'll break out my trusty Sennheiser headphones and an AS decoder when off work. The clicks are well disguised in the fire sounds--and it sounds like you might have been using variable click amplitudes? Nice work, please keep 'em coming!
  5. synaesthesia's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Austin
    Are you familiar with R Murray Schafer's work on acoustic ecology? He pioneered the field from Simon Fraser University back in the late 60s; he wasn't specifically looking at mode locking, just the ecological aspects. Turns out that say in a jungle, where there are a lot of different voices trying to be heard, and therefore the possibility of interference, various creatures have evolved to communicate within discrete audio channels, ranging from the subsonic (elephant foot-communications) to the ultrasonic (some insects, birds...).

    I recall noticing how the cicada songs in the large Japanese garden at Waseda University would form amplitude waves which traveled around the irregular garden.
    More in the vein of mode -locking I've heard some great examples of this here in Australia. Laying the long grass listening to some tiny crickets that were all in close - coming in to syncopation with each other and often playing a really nice rhythm like a small drum circle. Over here, the cicadas in the bush can be so numerous they are literally deafening- amazing to hear them all over the place ( a cacophony) and then suddenly all swing in to a syncopated pulse. Even more incredible one summer morning at a outdoor bush trance techno party you could here the unified pulse of the cicadas in the surrounding valley all move in to sync with the drum beats thundering out of the large sound system..
  6. synaesthesia's Avatar
    Great work Neuroasis! I've download your FLAC audio and will give it a try on loop. Are you using something like Mind Workstation ? When you get to the point of wanting more unique control over Audiostrobe there is a great VST plugin around that enables you to control Audiostrobe pulses via MIDI so that you can orchestrate much more complex AS tracks than what is currently available the AVS software, so even a freeware Audio/ MMIDI sequencer program will allow further experimentation .

    I need to make available some more time to this but I got some very interesting results using an audio beat slicer to cut a nice rhythm done on an African Djembe drum into individual slices / notes then converting this rhythm information in to MIDI notes and triggering Audiostrobe in Unison . I'm not sure of exactly technically the entrainment effects, but it was definitely what I would call psycho-active and something that needs further exploration. If entrainment can be gained from more poly-rhythmic material it might open a field of more aesthetically based entrainment audio which could have great potential ..I guess at some stage this kind of thing just blends in to what we might call "music"
  7. neuroasis's Avatar
    Thanks synaesthesia!

    I contacted the author of the post about the VST plugin sometime back and he indicates that it not yet finished and he is very busy and won't complete it for a few months. You have this VST plugin?

    It turns out that it is quite easy to do though. Make a 19.5kHz sine wave and put it into any sampler. Then use an arpeggiator or manual sequence pattern to trigger it. Full pan left is LED #1 and full pan right is LED#2. A mixture of pan settings across the stereo spectrum mixes the LEDs. The amplitude of the audio controls the brightness and flash of the lights.

    I have it set up now where I can literally 'play' Audiostrobe sequences with my keyboard (or any MIDI controller). Very cool. Sometime soon I will make a tutorial on how I do it.

    These first tracks were just short 'teasers' that I will build larger sequences from. As I mentioned just proof of the concept that crickets still sound like crickets at brainwave frequencies. I have ambitious plans for this tech.

    Right you are on the fact that at this time music or sound effects are being used to just 'mask' the frequencies. There are many possibilities to go way beyond this.

    Thanks for your insightful comments!
  8. synaesthesia's Avatar
    You've got the idea on Audiostrobe control. The VST is a softsynth that not only plays audiostrobe but has some very nice features as a tone generator for noise wave forms and modulates -quite a sophisticated plugin - with presets to load it could be a one stop shop entrainment program. It also has a sophisticated colour -organ which allows it to play audiostrobe from normal music files by setting frequency filters and playing with the amplitude envelope. I was involved as a beta tester and provided some ideas from early on. As Steve is hoping perhaps to do a commercial release some time you had better contact him about beta testing etc.

    My favorite self made entrainment tracks use Tibetan bowl loops and some short loopoed night sounds like crickets and frogs- definitely gets me in the zone like nothing else.

    It does amaze me that there has been so little progression in the audiostrobe content available beyond all the Tamas Lab release in the nineties. There is a lot of content around generated with transparent software , but I find it pretty uninspiring to listen to. Anyone can set some modulated white noise and beats and audiostrobe together now. That knife edge is the balance between aestheticism and entrainment value-




    Quote Originally Posted by neuroasis
    Thanks synaesthesia!

    I contacted the author of the post about the VST plugin sometime back and he indicates that it not yet finished and he is very busy and won't complete it for a few months. You have this VST plugin?

    It turns out that it is quite easy to do though. Make a 19.5kHz sine wave and put it into any sampler. Then use an arpeggiator or manual sequence pattern to trigger it. Full pan left is LED #1 and full pan right is LED#2. A mixture of pan settings across the stereo spectrum mixes the LEDs. The amplitude of the audio controls the brightness and flash of the lights.

    I have it set up now where I can literally 'play' Audiostrobe sequences with my keyboard (or any MIDI controller). Very cool. Sometime soon I will make a tutorial on how I do it.

    These first tracks were just short 'teasers' that I will build larger sequences from. As I mentioned just proof of the concept that crickets still sound like crickets at brainwave frequencies. I have ambitious plans for this tech.

    Right you are on the fact that at this time music or sound effects are being used to just 'mask' the frequencies. There are many possibilities to go way beyond this.

    Thanks for your insightful comments!
  9. swangaorpqey's Avatar
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