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Book Review: Healing Sounds - The Power of Harmonics
Jonathan Goldman
By Lori Thompson
(more articles from this author)
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Title: Healing Sounds - The Power of Harmonics
Author: Jonathan Goldman (
Publisher: Element, Boston, MA 1996

Those who are searching for the next melody, the next rhythm, the next set of lyrics that will launch a song to the top of the charts might want to take a step aside to read "Healing Sounds - The Power of Harmonics" by Jonathan Goldman.

In his book, Jonathan Goldman, director of the Sound Healers Association in Boulder, Colorado, and an authority on sound healing and pioneer in the field of harmonics, presents a lucid and concise account of the complexities and power of harmonics to affect form and to heal. Goldman defines harmonics, or overtones, as "the phenomenon of sound that occurs whenever sound is created." He notes also that "nearly all tones that are produced by musical instruments, our voices or other sound sources are…not pure tones, but mixtures of pure tone frequencies called 'partials'. The lowest such frequency is called the fundamental. All partials higher in frequency than the fundamental are referred to as overtones. While in many cases we cannot individually distinguish the different overtones which are sounded, these overtones contribute to the overall colour or timbre of the instrument." This, succinctly put, is the foundation of Goldman's inquiry and assertions in "Healing Sounds," and this basic understanding of harmonics opens the door to a whole new world of sound for the reader.

There is some basic music theory presented in the book and it may sound a bit foreign to those without musical training; however, Goldman handles the presentation of this material expertly so as not to make it at all intimidating to the musical novice. What Goldman accomplishes in some 157 pages of text, in addition to giving crash course in music theory, is impressive: he covers some history on music and its uses in ancient cultures, contemporary scientific research into harmonics, the impact of sound upon form or physical matter, the spiritual basis of sound from the perspective of a variety of different cultural and religious traditions, the physiological effects of sound/music, and an overview of the field of sound healing. Throughout, there is a very 'new age' feel to Goldman's words, but he has made the successful connection from the 'new age to the practical, down-to-earth implications of his research and work.

"Healing Sounds - The Power of Harmonics" will make the musician and the performer think more deeply and more reverently about their art form. It will make them consider the intent and the possibilities for their music that go beyond producing chart-topping hits. It will expose musicians/performers to the full breadth and depth of sound/music as a medium not only for entertainment, but also for communication and healing. Reading "Healing Sounds" should also help the musician to think more about his/her art not only from the perspective of performing, but also from the perspective of the listener-the 'music consumer'. There are profound implications in Goldman's work for musicians who seek greater connection ("resonation") with their audiences. Readers/musicians are particularly encouraged to review the sections on "Cymatics" (effect of sound on physical matter), beginning on page 36, and "Transforming Reality Through Sound," beginning on page 84.

Goldman quotes Judith Hitt, a nurse who works with patients recovering from various neurological disorders as saying, "Sounds seems to be a very powerful and direct way to 'touch' the brain and nerves." If we considered this powerful ability of sound to affect our nervous systems, how might we approach contemporary music? What would we want to communicate to others through music? How would we want to 'touch' others with our music? Read Jonathan Goldman's "Healing Sounds - The Power of Harmonics" and consider the potential of music to affect the world around us.

This book is recommended for anyone who wants to understand how sound/music affects us physically and emotionally, and it is recommended particularly for artists who want to enhance their ability to create music that will speak to audiences deeply and memorably.

Jonathan Goldman's Healing Sounds website can be found at He may also be contacted through Healing Sounds, P.O. Box 2240, Boulder, CO 80306; phone (800)-246-9764; e-mail:

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