If you were to zoom in down to and beyond an atomic level, you would theoretically be able to see that everything is in constant motion. String Theory, a leading physics framework adopted by many prominent scientists essentially suggests that at a fundamental level beyond atoms, everything is comprised of ‘strings’ or one dimensional objects which dictate the nature of particles depending on their oscillations (not unlike how sound designers can use different oscillations of waveforms to form different sounds).
It turns out the human body is no exception to the rule of vibration and we can actually measure this. Researchers have studied the innate ‘resting’ or resonant frequencies of different parts of the body to varying levels of consistency, and have come up with data resembling the points in the chart below.
Wigram also asked participants in a study of his to describe where they felt various frequencies the most; "36% of the subjects felt 20Hz in their legs, 39% felt 30Hz, and 47% of the subjects felt 40Hz in this area. 42% of the subjects felt 60Hz and 55% of the subjects felt 70Hz in their chest, shoulders, neck or head.” (The Effects of Vibroacoustic Therapy on Clinical and Non-Clinical Populations, Wigram 1996).
As we can see, these frequencies are quite low just like the bass frequencies we enjoy in music. A possible reason for the slightly different results across studies is that these resonant frequencies can change depending on the orientation of the body; i.e. a bent arm or bent knee could have a slightly different resonant frequency than its straightened counterpart. But what does a resonant frequency actually mean?
The scientific definition of resonance describes it as “the phenomena of amplification that occurs when the frequency of a periodically applied force is in harmonic proportion to a natural frequency of the system on which it acts.” When an oscillating force like a low frequency sine wave is applied at a resonant frequency of a ‘dynamical system’ (in this case the various parts of the human body) the system will oscillate at a higher amplitude than when the same force is applied at other, non-resonant frequencies.
Through resonance, a comparatively weak vibration in one object can cause a strong vibration in another. In other words, resonance is the ability of a system to achieve maximum efficiency when absorbing energy when the external frequency’s oscillations match the system's natural frequency. So is bass priming our bodies with energy through resonance?
The effects of resonant frequencies in the body are still largely unknown, but the concept of resonance may lend a hand in understanding some of the well documented beneficial effects from low frequency sound stimulation.
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