You’ve no doubt heard of the genre of music known as binaural beats – digitally-crafted music that create an auditory illusion based on two different pure-tone sine waves that work using frequencies that are lower than 1500 Hz.
It’s believed that binaural beats resonate with our brains at a subconscious level and provide powerful effects of relaxation and calmness to the listener; a kind of auditory therapy that works without us having to put too much thought into it.
But what sets binaural beats apart from other forms of music, and why does it have such a powerful impact on our minds? Binaural beats are steeped in science, and go further back than most people realise, with scientists long researching the many benefits to listening to binaural beats on a daily basis.
The first thing to know about binaural beats is that the genre is extremely hold, and that the only reason that we’re starting to see it with prevalence in modern times is due to the advancement of the technology necessary to synthesise the music, but some scientists believe that the concept dates back thousands of years, and that ancient cultures were well aware of how the brain could be entranced by the repetition of sound at certain frequencies.
This can be most commonly seen in the usage of drums, which span across most of the ancient cultures of the world. One scientist found that drumbeats of cultures such as the native Americans would beat at around 4.5 beats per second, and that it wasn’t important to keep the rhythm as stable as possible. In fact, the drumbeats were an important part of many of their spiritual rituals, and they believed that it would bring them prosperity.
Further study into the phenomena shows that 4.5 beats per second actually resonates with a low Theta brainwave state that is most associated with relaxation and trace-like states, and can be found in most forms of modern media, from music, film, and online betting.
Tibetan monks, master Yogis, and Hindu healers were also known for making use of drumming and chanting during healing rituals, with many using these specific brainwave states to induce healing, spiritual growth, and concentration.
The way that binaural beats affect our brains was first discovered by a Prussian physicist and meteorologist by the name of Heinrich Wilhelm Dove in 1839. Despite the early discovery, the phenomena would remain mostly unnoticed until over a hundred years later in 1973, when biophysicist Dr. Gerald Oster made the scientific community aware of binaural beats through his paper, “Auditory Beats in The Brain” which was published in Scientific America.
45 Years later, and the field has garnered much more interests from scientists and sound engineers from around the world. So far it’s been discovered that binaural beats can entrain the brain into completely different states of consciousness, and can contribute to focus, stress relief, aiding sleep, pain relief, reduction of depression and anxiety, and much more.