Studying audio can lead to binging and purging on music. In my previous job as a chef, I couldn’t wait till after work to let some steam off by rocking out with some music. But now that music essentially is my work, in my downtime I have been looking for more minimal music to relax my senses. I came across binaural beats claiming they could help me reduce, stress, anxiety or depression, increase focus and even repair nerve damage. This sounded way too good to be true but I started listening to some while studying and found it really helped me focus. I listened to a bunch of different ones and tried to meditate as I listened and as I felt the effects I became increasingly curious about how they work. So with everything I have learnt about how frequencies work, it was not a far stretch to imagine that that selecting the right frequencies could really affect you, mentally, physically and spiritually.
So What are Binaural Beats?
Essentially a binaural beat is a perceived tone that you hear when your brain is presented with two different frequencies, but there’s a whole lot more to it than that. The illusion is created by playing a tone in one ear and a neighbouring tone in the other ear. Certain frequencies foster certain responses in the mind, body and soul. The distance between the frequencies creates the binaural tone which you hear right between the eyes and really alerts your senses I believe this tone is tapping into your third eye.
Example Video of a Binaural Beat
The distance between the frequencies is split into 5 categories.
Delta Waves < 4 Hz - Deep dreamless sleep
Theta Waves 4Hz – 7 Hz - Deep meditation and dreaming
Alpha Waves 7Hz – 13 Hz - Light meditation and visualisation
Beta Waves - 13Hz - 39Hz - Wakefulness and Alertness
Gamma Waves - 40Hz < - Heightened perception and consciousness
After talking about this with some fellow students, I formed a group with Brenden Blanch and Shlok Pinto to try to create some binaural beats and see if we could make them actually work. We had all been researching frequencies and how they affected mood. Based on our research we had settled on 136Hz which has been used in meditation across continents and religions for longer than we can measure. Many singing bowls and bells are tuned to this frequency and it is the keynote of the sitar which is highly regarded and referred to as the Father of Others. Associated with balance, grounding and relieving pressure we thought that this would be a good place to start.
The Frequency of the Earth-Year
Creating the Binaural beat turned out to be way easier than any of us imagined. Working in Ableton we created 2 channels, panned them hard left and hard right, added operator to both turned all the oscillators off except one, set it to a sine wave, put it on fixed and then just dialled in the frequencies. We decided to separate the frequencies by 3Hz using the Delta wave to make this piece as relaxing as possible so we dialled in 136Hz on the left and 139Hz on the right. As soon as we did this we sat in the centre of the room and we could all feel it working, we checked it more closely with headphones and yes it was definitely working.
Binaural Beat at 139Hz
Creating Binaural Beats with Ableton Live
While some of the binaural beats online are purely just sine waves, the ones we all liked, had some element of ambient music so we really wanted to flesh this piece out a bit more. The way the binaural beat works it kind of pulses. We wanted to encourage this pulse just a little bit more. Shlok suggested using a sidechain on a gate, so we grabbed a drum sound and duplicated it on the beat throughout the track, not to hear it, but just to use it as a trigger for the side chain on the gate, we set the attack and release times quite slow with a long hold. This really sounded good and was starting to get where we wanted it but the pulsing was a bit too rapid so we removed every second beat from the drum track and we all went, “yep that’s it.” We then wanted to add some texture so we went through the ambient sounds and settled on a chime sound. 136Hz is a C# we stuck mainly to C#, G# and A# because adding those notes seemed to add a positive or lifting feeling to the vibe more than the other notes present in the C# scale. We learnt that when creating ambient music, it is very important to keep things minimal because the goal is to create texture, not melody. Too many notes will spoil the effect and start to sound like doodling. This is really refreshing as a musician, stepping back and letting the tones speak for themselves.
Get Creative with the Sidechain
on Your Compressors and Gates
I am still currently working on this and will be producing a range of binaural beats aiming to achieve different things in the near future I am very excited about exploring and expanding the possibilities and sharing the results with you soon.